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Why Don't Software Sites post their prices?

Why do many Software Companies refuse to post their prices on their websites?  If I am looking for a tool to handle a problem at work I need to a) find something that will work and b)something within our budget.

Without a price I don't know if the product is worth persuing so I will skip it and look for something else. 

John McQuilling
Sunday, February 29, 2004

There are two common reasons. With software sold through the channel the software company may be working on a MSRP system. This is where the manufacturer sets a recommended price which exists mainly so that the prices that retailers actually charge appear to be heavily discounted.

With enterprise software the price is "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" and it's usually negotiated individually for every purchaser.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Sunday, February 29, 2004

Slightly different reason...having the email of someone who's asking for a price is worth money.

Plus it gives them a chance to seperate their product from the competition. Companies generally don't like having their products compared against others with a feature grid, including the price -- unless they come out on top, of course.

Nigel
Sunday, February 29, 2004

Also they may want to charge different prices for different kinds of customers, or different countries.

I don't mind inquiring for prices of really high-end software, but for smaller tools the lack of a published price is off-putting.

Dan Maas
Sunday, February 29, 2004

A bit more openness would be nice sometimes.

Actually stating why their prices are not shown would be a good start. On many sites it just looks like they forgot.

Others make it look like (assume they are not for arguments sake) they are trying to screw you with some cryptic messages in place of prices.

Dom
Monday, March 01, 2004

Putting up a SRP at least gives you an idea. Sometimes it is not abvious at all if this is going to be in a 4, 5 or 6 figure range.
Even in realestate where there is a higher consistency between "layman first looks estimates" and actual pricing, they seem to have discovered a need to add "higher price category" tags to the more expensive property presentations.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 01, 2004

I've found a few web-sites that have 'really cool' software, that then did not post their prices.  These sites seem to have some common features.

1.  Their software is part of a 'suite' of software.

2.  Invariably, the price starts above $1,000 for the simplist package.

3.  Their emphasis is on selling to large companies (ie a certain number of 'seat' licenses) and they had 'volume discounts' available (NONE of which would get the total price below $1,000, BTW.  It would be less than $1,000 PER SEAT, of course).

4.  They want to develop a relationship between their company and yours -- or at least between their sales staff and you as a representative of your company.

5.  There were continuing license support costs.

All of these issues require a sales agent from their company talking to an individual in your company.  Thus, allowing you to pre-figure the prices without first contacting them through email held no value for them, and little value for their intended customers.

I absolutely agree with the frustrations expressed here, though.  It has been very frustrating for me to 'Have-To' develop these contacts merely to find out if the package costs 1K, 10K, or 30K per seat. 

The Chicken-and-Egg principle applies here.  My company doesn't want me spending time and energy negotiating prices -- that's the purchasing departement's job.  Yet I can't just say to Purchasing 'Buy This', I must justify the amount spent -- which means I have to find out at least the ballpark of the cost.

AllanL5
Monday, March 01, 2004

You don't want your competitors to know your prices.

You don't want your customers to use your posted prices as leverage to get a better deal.

This is usually an issue if you are selling to corporations who try to negotiate everything. A single user customer will probably just pay list or not.

I once tried to find out how to buy a license of TOAD, the oracle utitlity. There is a free version, but since I work for a company, I tried to find out how much a real license costs. It wasn't on the web site, so I called them. I couldn't get them to give me a number. It was always, it depends on what we were going to do with it.  I couldn't get them to name a price so I gave up.

pdq
Monday, March 01, 2004

Corporations appreciate honesty.  In particular I like Atlassian's pricing policy.  It's all there, black and white.

Like other posters have mentioned,  I'm not going to waste my time calling up a company to find out if their product is within our budget.  If it's not on the website, it's out of the running.

However,  I used to work for a company that did 'consultingware', the low cost deployments we did were $100k plus.  I can understand leaving that off the website as you're hardly going to get lots of web sales in that market.

Koz
Monday, March 01, 2004

Bitkeeper has another justification.  http://www.ussg.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0210.0/2505.html

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, March 01, 2004

The price of software is purely determined by what the customer will pay.

If it costs you $30,000 to make custom diesel engines on demand, you're just never going to sell one for under $30,000 (on demand means no excess stock to dump).

If it costs you $30 million to develop your SpiffyWord word processor, you are only going to sell it for PriceOf(MS Word)/2 because that's all people will pay for a non-MS word processor.  It doesn't matter if 5 people or 500,000 want to buy your product.  Supply is infinite.  Production costs for the new units are zero.  Therefore the only effective variable in the Supply & Demand equation is the demand.

So anybody who doesn't list the price for their software is just trying to get every possible penny from individual customers based on what the individual will pay instead of deciding to trust to the law of averages and do market research to find a set-in-stone pricing scheme based on what "the market" will pay.

Richard P
Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I'm with John here and I expect there are a lot of others as well. If I've got to hunt for the price I get the feeling your hiding a lot more than what I'm currently looking for.

Vendors: Put your price up front on the product page.

The best ones are the vendors that are so convinced you can't resist their golden widget that you can't find out how much it costs until you get to the check-out. I stopped doing "click-to-buy" to find prices years ago - the back/close button are much faster - you usually end up there anyway.

Perpetual Newbie II
Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I believe the sales-speak is: "We want to develop a relationship with you so we can determine how our products best meet your needs."

Which translates: We want to find out whether we can rip you off big time, or just a little. And we'll have your phone number. And we'll call you repeatedly to ask you which other product your considering so we can keep changing our offer.

Just does not appeal to me as a busy IT guy at a small company.

Maybe this approach really does work in Fortune 1000's? Blaming it on the salespeople is always good when you need to CYA.

Nate Silva
Thursday, March 04, 2004

I don't have time to develop market relationships. I don't have time to fill out that 7+ required field form with information I don't have. And I certainly don't want a sales rep call me indefinitely.

When they leave their price off, they are effectively driving me to their competitors.

Thomas Eyde
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

This is why salesforce.com is killing their competition (Siebel, PeopleSoft, etc.). 

Anonymous
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

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