When to discuss pricing in a B2B sales cycle: Timing is everything

Uncover the best time to discuss pricing in a B2B sales cycle

Rory Sadler
August 1, 2023
February 24, 2024
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Uncover the best time to discuss pricing in a B2B sales cycle

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Timing a sale is like timing cooking- you need to get the right count on the clock to make sure things don’t burn to a crisp, but you also don’t want to undercook things (food poisoning is a phrase everyone shudders to hear).

In B2B sales it's especially important since there are so many competitors out there ready to snatch a deal. So what is the right time to talk about pricing and how open should you be about it?

First, Let’s Talk about Gatekeeping Pricing

We can’t talk about pricing without touching on the concept of gatekeeping pricing. This is when companies or salespeople hide or obscure pricing, making it coveted and hard-to-find information unavailable to everyone.

Think of it like Gandalf standing in front of the Balrog, only the Balrog just wants to know how much money this service could cost him, and Gandalf is yelling, “You shall not know the price without being a qualifying lead and speaking to a higher manager!”

This is an extreme example, maybe, but pricing gatekeeping is still common in the industry. It might look like a website link that says "Contact Us for More on Pricing" or a more generalised reluctance to talk about pricing until leads have exhibited a lot of buy-in and intention to convert.

Is Gatekeeping Pricing an Outdated Concept?

With many (if not most) B2B companies offering self-service subscription services, gatekeeping pricing might seem like a thing that never happens anymore. However, it’s still a popular choice in some corporate cultures. But does it have a place in strategic sales techniques moving forward?

The most important thing to know about gatekeeping pricing and its place in a customer experience-focused environment is that gatekeeping prices make customers feel…suspicious. It feels like you're hiding something like a hidden trap about to snap closed on them if they can't figure out how to get all the information.

In an industry that’s rapidly pivoting to give customers all the control and information they crave and expect, this kind of information withholding can set your company apart in a bad way, making you look less forthcoming and honest than others who don’t gatekeep pricing.

However, there are situations where a little bit of gatekeeping is good. For instance, in highly-detailed and specific scenarios where the smallest change in information can mean thousands of dollars difference in cost for the company.

Pros of Gatekeeping Pricing

Can Increase Conversions

Pricing gatekeeping happens because it ensures that only serious clients get time with the top brass.

This can seem like a great way to save time for senior executives who don't have time to waste. However, other ways exist to whittle down the pool to ensure only serious customers get to the executives.

Open and honest communication of prices can help with this by giving customers realistic expectations long before getting to the highest levels.

Doesn’t Scare Off Customers Before Hearing Benefits

In the case of high pricing because of an equally high-quality product, there might be some concerns that customers will run away if they only see the high cost without being properly briefed on the benefits of that cost.

To combat this without gatekeeping pricing, companies can offer information on the benefits and quality of the product in conjunction with the pricing. Make the price a feature that guarantees quality.

Cons of Gatekeeping Pricing

Can Scare Customers Off

Salespeople put a lot of time and energy into seeming trustworthy, the kind of company potential clients want to give their business to. Gatekeeping pricing is inherently secretive and can make many clients think, "Well, what's the catch? Why won't you just tell me how much it costs?".

Can Take Your Company Out of the Running Early

With self-service subscription services quickly becoming the norm, it’s become run-of-the-mill to find detailed pricing readily available. When companies don’t automatically offer this information, they negatively set themselves apart from other companies and make clients wonder why they aren't upfront.

This can lead clients to move to companies that offer this information immediately so they can make a more informed decision faster.

Let’s Get to the Point- When Should You Talk About Pricing?

The pricing conversation is a delicate dance; too early, and you risk scaring future clients off. Too late, and they might hit the eject button out of misplaced panic. You are threading that needle to find the right time to ease your future clients into pricing without sending them screaming for the hills.

When Do Customers Need to Know Pricing?

There are two main moments when future clients need to know accurate pricing. These are at the beginning of the sales process and before they make the final purchasing decision.

Although we obviously don't want to touch on pricing too early in the conversation, having pricing available early in the sales funnel lets leads self-qualify (potentially saving you time). Hence, they know they want to be there.

They can also do their research independently, which customers nowadays expect and prefer. Even in situations where precise pricing isn't available because of complex details and specifics that change from organisation to organisation, having a rough ballpark figure can make a huge difference in a client’s interest.

Once you’ve had the opportunity to talk to your potential client, ironing out their expectations and pain points and how your product can assist in soothing them, the final moment to review pricing is during the final countdown.

This is when all the decision-makers need to be on the same page. Pulling pricing out at this point allows them to all have a deep understanding before they sign on the dotted line.

So, You Should Talk About Pricing:

Openly and Early

Today’s clients expect to have all the information available at their fingertips right from the beginning of the process. Anything less than that feels sketchy like you're trying to hide something. People don't want to work with those they think are hiding things from them (and can you blame them?).

Make pricing easily available on your website and sales materials. Making this easy to get to right from the beginning of the process gives your clients control.

You’re not selling to them; they're buying from you. There are plenty of tools you can use to make this information available. Trumpet provides a cool mini-website that gives you an easy way to organise your entire sales process, making everything available for potential clients so they can feel fully informed.

Openly and at the Final Moment

When the decision has been almost entirely made, and the last part is getting buy-in from all the different decision-makers that have to be involved, your final opportunity to talk about pricing has appeared.

This is when you reiterate the information provided before and, if possible, tailor it more to your client’s specifics. By this point in the process, you should know all the numbers and specifics so you can give these more precise figures. This allows you to be open and honest about how much pricing is, putting the final touches on the deal to finish everything.

Talk About Pricing with Future Clients

Finding ways to openly talk about pricing with your clients from the early stages all the way to the final dotted I's and crossed T's makes you more trustworthy and friendly and helps customers make informed decisions.

Trumpet is proud to be at the forefront of personalised, customer-first sales, offering an easy-to-use platform that makes information sharing a breeze. For more information on how Trumpet can change your sales, visit our blog.

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