Value pricing is an elusive topic but when done properly it can lead to long periods of exceptional profitability. We often hear companies improperly refer to their pricing methods as “value pricing,” when they are far from it. Like anything else, just using the words does not improve results, you actually have to use the framework to make different decisions about pricing. And because the competitive landscape changes over time, your value pricing needs to evolve over time. There are some things that you can do to ensure that your value pricing strategy will deliver the desired results.
We had a client many years ago that was struggling with how to bring a new software offering to market, specifically how to price it. Their core product was equipment used in manufacturing processes and the associated parts and accessories. The equipment was a large capital purchase for their customers, but they made most of their money of the ongoing purchase of parts and accessories (think razor blades). Their new software would help their customers design and optimize their manufacturing process and choose the best mix of parts and accessories. The challenge lay in the fact that, although the software would create tremendous value for their customers, it had the unfortunate side effect of frequently reducing the number of parts and accessories that they needed to buy. The leadership team was stuck with some wanting to postpone the software release indefinitely and others wanting to price it very high to make up for the potential lost parts revenue – and no one really thinking about customer value.
Software pricing can be complicated and confusing, but it need not be a reason to panic – even for organizations that are more comfortable pricing hardware. The primary thing to keep in mind is that all the rules of customer value still apply. Below are several of the pitfalls that we see customer fall into when pricing software, and some thoughts on how to avoid them.