Over the last few weeks I had a chance to review 89 of the companies to understand their free to paid conversion and also a chance to talk to 13 companies. What I learned was that time spent on the pricing page was a key indicator of conversion and you can A/B test your pricing page for colors, position of your highest and lowest prices, number of plans showed, feature listing and your call to action. The names of your pricing plan also has a significant signalling effect on your customer’s perception of your product. I believe the future of SaaS pricing will move from pay-per-usage to pay-for-outcomes.
The most frequent question I get asked about SaaS companies is how to think about pricing for the product. Here are some constructs to think about and 7 questions to ask before you come up with a pricing model or a price for your product.
1. Understanding your customers current solution and options and their “cost per unit of activity” is the most important thing you should do first. For e.g. if you sell a Sales force automation solution, the customer might be using an Excel spreadsheet to track their sales because they dont have too many opportunities. So in their minds the “cost per unit” is zero, since they have already “paid” for Excel.
2. SaaS pricing is a marketing function not finance or operations. If the team that determines the value of your offering to the customer is another them, then it is their responsibility. The reason for this is that value of your product determines how much you can charge, not what customers are willing to pay. Value cannot be determined as a absolute, only relative. Which is why you have to compare it to their current solution.
3. At the early stages (less than 50-100 customers) optimize for more customers and quicker sales cycles not for profit. To get data and buying patterns you need enough data and a meaningful sample size. When you go beyond the early customers, it is time to optimize for LTV and CAC.
Here are the top 7 questions to ask before you come up with a pricing model for your SaaS product.
1. What are the current options for your customer?
Find out how are they solving the problem your product addresses currently and how much does it cost them to do that.
2. What are the different segments of your customers?
Find out if there are different problems your product can solve and the value associated with those problems. That would be the best indicator of
3. What is your goal from your pricing?
It is not always obvious to say that your goal is to get the “most money” or to be the most expensive product. Some companies want to be the 80% functionality at 20% of the cost option. Determine your pricing goal – profitability (after customer acquisition costs), value creation, marketshare, etc.
4. What is your cost of customer acquisition?
For most parts, your cost of development tends to be fixed (if you hire 3 people, you have to pay their salaries regardless of how many features the ship), but the cost of customer acquisition tends to be a variable. So if your costs dont take CAC into account, you will have a model that wont be profitable.
5. What is your sales model?
I usually use the price and complexity of sales / marketing on two axes to understand the sales strategy for a SaaS company.
If you are a company with a lower price point and low complexity of sales, you will have to rely on customers to try and buy (freemium) the product on their own and work on obtaining customers at a low cost.
If you are a very complex product or have a complex sales process and your product costs a lot, you will have to hire a field sales team to help you sell.
If however, your product is priced high and your complexity is low then you will build an inside (phone) sales team.
If you have a high complexity product and sales model and low price, your company will die.
Use this model to determine where you want to be and price the product appropriately.