Price. It's one of the—if not the—top questions prospects are asking as they go online to learn more about potential solutions to their problems. And, remarkably, it's a topic most manufacturers are very hesitant to touch—especially in the context of their website.
Why is that? It only makes sense that prospects want to know what your products cost; it's usually a big investment, and knowing whether your product/service falls inside or outside of prospects' budgets is critical. So, why are manufacturers so reluctant to tell prospects what they should expect to pay?
Well, there are plenty of invented reasons: You don't want competitors to see what your price tag is; you don't want to commit to a specific price; you don't want to turn away prospects because of a high price. But, in this article, I'd like to argue that you'll attract far more prospects (and turn them into leads) if you tackle the topic of price head on.
There are a number of factors that need to be considered before you can give a prospect a firm price on your equipment: material costs, the engineering end design effort required, how shipping and installation will be handled, throughput required, capacity and power requirements of the equipment...the list goes on and on.
Believe it or not, though, there are ways you can talk about the topic of price and satisfy many of the price-related questions prospects have, before knowing a single thing about how your equipment will be used. That's because prospects aren't necessarily asking "How much?" They're asking you to discuss things like return on investment, total cost in use, how pricing is determined, payment options, expected lifespan of your equipment, productivity improvements and how they offset cost...lots of questions.
How to Explain Fixed Equipment Line Pricing
If you have fixed equipment lines, talking about price can be simple, if you're not shy about competitors seeing your price (although you can safely figure that they already know). The price isn't going to change anytime soon, and if you typically hold to that cost (no discounts or special deals), you're pretty safe just stating the price on your website.
An even better way to present costs is to allow prospects to compare the prices of several pieces of your equipment at the same time, and the features and benefits of each.
Apple does this on their website. A simple chart lets you see size, storage, power and other features at a glance, making it easy to select the laptop or desktop that's aligned with your needs.
Another example is Miller Electric Inc. and the eCommerce portion of their site where a prospect can purchase welders. Miller uses feature filters to guide people towards the correct welder for his or her application. By selecting the industry you're in, portability requirements, power requirements, and a few other variables, you find the correct equipment. Once you've found the welder you need, Miller's site offers a comparison between the different package options for that specific welder. Smartly, they also include links to accessories, consumables, and related products.
Miller then goes above and beyond by offering a configurator for more advanced welding systems. Not every equipment manufacture can provide a configuration device, but when you do it can be the most powerful sales and marketing tool in your arsenal.
By showcasing multiple pieces of equipment, their prices and the features and benefits of each, you answer multiple questions and help prospects understand the relative value and usefulness of each piece of equipment. It also shows them that you understand their needs are specific, and that you've developed multiple smart solutions to a variety of problems.
Using Price Ranges to Provide Information without Overpromising
If your product is engineered, designed, and built for each customer (in other words, custom), you can't really tell a prospect what their piece will cost, but you can give them a price range. This way you give your customers a ballpark for how much they can expect to pay for your equipment while letting them know that the price is not fixed.
An good example of industrial equipment priced within ranges is on Alibaba.com.
Alibaba is a giant commerce site that sells everything under the sun; you can buy anything from cheap wedding invitations to industrial packaging equipment.
If you visit Alibaba's packaging equipment page, you're treated to machinery ranging from shrink tunnels to a Commercial Mechanical Bubble Milk Tea Cup Sealing Machine. How’s that for a specific vertical?
Most of the items for sale are given a price range, though others do require you to sign up for an account before you can see the price or request a quote.
There's an awful lot an industrial equipment supplier can learn from Alibaba. Instead of giving a specific price, give your machinery a price range. That way you set price expectations but have the ability to adjust the price based on the specific requirements of your customer.
How to Price Custom-Designed Industrial Equipment
What do you do when don’t have a standard product line, or even a line that can fit in a price range? What do you do if every machine you sell is a prototype? Or a one-of-a-kind modern marvel that will produce a million widgets a minute, but only in one factory with one setup?
A better way to explain your pricing in this situation is probably to explain your pricing, or quote, process.
If you can’t tell your customers what to expect for their price, you can tell them what to expect while you work with them on reaching an agreed-upon quote. This will demonstrate that your process is thorough and your quotes are well-considered.
In your explanation you should detail how you work with the customer to determine equipment specifics. Do you go to their site to do the measurements yourself, or do you prefer that your customer do the measurements and send them and any CAD drawings they have to you? Do you have specific vendors you work with for 3rd party equipment, or do you prefer your customers specifies those vendors? Do your quotes include installation costs, or do you expect your customers to do the installation themselves? These are all price-related questions prospects are asking, and your answers will help them get further in their buyer journeys (and get them there faster and with more knowledge).
Larger customers usually have their own request for quote [RFQ] process, but having your preferred process spelled out will help them understand and appreciate how you work. If your quote processes align it's likely that you can also have a price that will fit in their budget.
Emphasize the Return on Investment No Matter How Your Describe Pricing
Purchasing managers can get hung up on price, especially when working with a fixed budget. Instead of focusing on price, focus on the things that determine your price.
Even the most rigid purchasing manager understands value; price is one factor in their decision (and a big one), but what they're really looking for low TCO, improved productivity, reduced downtime, minimal maintenance requirements, improved throughput and lifespan...so talk about these. After reading about your products and all that goes into how you determine price, they'll see you as highly credible – and your products as highly valuable in meeting their goals.
Be intentional about pricing description no matter what you choose to do.
One of the advantages of talking about how you price your industrial equipment online is that you can determine the direction of the conversation before ever talking to your customers. By starting the conversation online early you can get past "price" and get to what your customers really want: an investment in equipment that will help them meet their production needs now and in the future.
Posted by Jonathan Stanis An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.