Why do people keep their prices a secret?

Why do people keep their prices a secret?

I’m a firm believer in making my prices and rates transparent. In fact for my Brightspark Marketing brand, clients often remark that a key factor in their decision to start the sales conversation with me was because my prices are ‘out there.’

Recently I saw some marketing materials from a coach who claimed to be a specialist in creating membership websites. As that’s something I’ve recently set up with my Working in Pyjamas brand, and in the spirit of ‘you’re never too old to learn something new’, I clicked the button to find out more.

From there I was invited to attend a 15-minute ‘discovery call’ with this expert. At this point, there was no mention cost, fees or anything to give an indication of how much money I’d be asked to part with. I checked the website, Facebook page and other social media platforms for this woman, and there was no price mentioned anywhere.

I was slightly irked but decided to take the call anyway. And to be fair, it sounded like something that could be of interest to me. The coach asked me all about my hopes and dreams for my business future, and then gave me the hard sell on how this coaching programme would make all my dreams come true. “OK, enough already,” I said. “How much does this cost?”

From the description and the ‘spiel’, I had the figure of around $500 in my head. But then the woman told me that the ‘investment’ would be $5000. I nearly fell off my chair. Well, those of you who know me, know that I don’t mince my words. I made it clear that if she had told me in the beginning that this was a $5000 programme, then I could have saved her, and me a lot of wasted time.

I felt ambushed and uncomfortable

I was then put in the frankly, uncomfortable position of saying that it was out of my price range. I felt ambushed. “Well, of course, what you have to ask yourself is whether or not you think your future business success is worth investing in,” she said. She offered to drop the price to $4000. I said no. Then she offered to drop it to $3000 if I signed up there and then. I said no, and then goodbye. As I ended the call, I knew that even if I won the lottery that day and money were no object, I would never spend anything with her.

Why do people do this? What’s wrong with making the price known up front? I can’t help thinking that this ‘make them want it and they’ll find the money even if they have to sell their children’ approach to sales is horribly out of date.

Here're the benefits (in my opinion) of making your rates clear:

  1. You’re treating your potential customer with respect. By giving a clear price or if you’re serviced based, some kind of price ‘ballpark’, they can decide whether or not to strike up the conversation.
  2. You’re cutting the wheat from the chafe and attracting the right kind of customer. Therefore saving yourself time from time wasters (I don’t mean that to sound unkind, but you know what I mean).
  3. You’re showing that you have a clear pricing structure. And not ‘means testing’ people to see what you can get away with (and don’t think that doesn’t go on - it does).

What are your views on this? Show prices or not show prices?