Call for a price on how to improve calls to call for pricing

My new employer, Simply Measured, offers free tools and an enterprise plan for large companies. Which means that if you want to know how much it would cost your business to use our excellent products, a conversation needs to occur.

Which is funny, because I’d always pretty much believed what Joel about this in an excellent piece on pricing:

Bad Idea #2: How Much Money Do You Have? Pricing.

This is the kind used by software startups founded by ex-Oracle salesmen where the price isn’t on the website anywhere. No matter how much you search to find the price, all you get is a form to provide your name, address, phone number, and fax number, for some reason, not that they’re ever going to fax you anything.

It’s pretty obvious here that the plan is to have a salesman call you up and figure out how much you’re worth, and then charge you that much.

Which cracks me up. In our case, to briefly attempt a defense of our company, is that because we’re not selling a widget, and instead we’re providing a massive number-crunching, data-heavy process, our costs per customer are high, recurring, and very hugely by what they’re asking for.

It’s fine if you don’t take my word for it.

The fascinating problem I’ve been having is that there’s essentially no widely available information on how the industry does this. At Expedia, when I was working on the package path and trying to figure out if making something clearer was going to help, and how much it could help, there was all kinds of great research into ecommerce websites, case studies, and I could talk to people I knew who worked at other companies.

I have no idea. Let’s say our conversion rate in the trial is 0%. Or 50%. Or 97%. The only comparison point I have to go on is that it’s not as high as I want it to be. We have to build our own metrics, benchmarks, and methods as we go.

In absolutely delicious irony, I have been able to find a ton of information on enterprise trial paths, people with good advice, and ways other huge companies have made improvements selling expensive things to other huge companies.

At consulting companies, who want me to call them to talk about pricing.