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How to Persuade Customers to Convert on a High-Priced SaaS Product

At some point, you’re going to be selling a big-ticket item.

Stuff that is more expensive is harder to sell. This isn’t the McDonald’s dollar menu. It’s more like Masa, in New York City.

People won’t convert in the same way. But you’ve still got to sell. Here’s how it’s done.

1. Raise the price, and let that price speak for itself.

One of the biggest sources of persuasion comes from the price itself.

As marketers, we have this idea that a higher price will scare people away. We think that if we price our service at a certain point, we’ll alienate every potential buyer.

This idea is a mistake.

A high price, in and of itself, can help the user to convert. Here’s why. When a user sees a higher price, she automatically thinks that a higher price equals a higher value.

Marketing researchers have identified three main things that people look for when they buy: 1) Price, 2) quality, and 3) value, in that order.

Here’s the funny thing, though. The price level influences the other two factors. Since price is the first consideration in a purchase decision, it affects the remaining two factors of the decision.

So if the price is low, the user thinks that the quality is low and the value is low. If the price is high, then the user thinks that the quality is high and the value is high. Scholarly studies have affirmed this higher price/higher value correlation.

If you jack up your price, you might get this cold-and-sweaty feeling that no one is going to buy it, and you’re going to fail miserably.

What you might discover is that people value your product even more. What’s changed?

Nothing but the price.

2. Give users a free trial.

Most software providers allow a free trial of their product before having users pay for it.

As obvious as it is, this is nothing short of brilliant.

Common sense tells us that the free trial model is a good idea, and the scholarly studies confirm it. Not only does it help conversions happen, but it also “has an impact on post-trial beliefs and attitudes” according to a study in Information Systems and e-Business Management.

If someone is going to purchase a Ferrari, they’re probably going to want to sit in one and test it out. If someone is going to purchase a $5,000/month SaaS, they’ll want to give it a try first.

Here are a few tips on creating a successful free-trial.

  • Don’t require a credit card. You’ll bring fewer potential buyers into the final purchase funnel.
  • Keep all features open. Don’t hide menus or limit functionality. The user needs to experience the entire, full-orbed experience of the software, not some pared down or limited version. The only limitation should be the timeframe of the trial.
  • Keep the trial to 14-30 days. The length of the free trial depends on the nature and purpose of your software. As a general rule, however, two weeks to one month trial is best.
  • Lay on the marketing thick and heavy once the user signs up. Use marketing emails and other reminder emails to draw the user in.

HelpScout uses a 15-day free trial, which is ideal for their specific product.

1 help scout

Buffer has three membership options for business users. Even though each of the options has a slightly different set of features (number of connected accounts and team members), each of them are available as a free trial.

2 try the awesome plan

KISSmetrics provides insight-driven analytics reporting. The prices are highly competitive, but a $600/month commitment is a big conversion by most people’s standards. Even with this professional level of service (1+ million events / month), a free trial is available.

3 pricing plan

Notice how the page has the following statements:

  • Unlimited
  • Free
  • No obligation
  • No credit card required

These statements give the user assurance that it’s safe to convert. They aren’t losing any money or binding themselves into some situation where they will be required to pay. Instead, they are merely trying out the software.

Here’s what the pricing page for CrazyEgg looks like. Again, all levels of service are totally free for the first 30 days.

4 the power of eye tracking

3. Put trust signals everywhere.

Trust signals are an essential part of helping users to make big conversion decisions.

You need trust signals everywhere. Here are some crucial places:

  • Landing pages.
  • Pricing pages.
  • Checkout pages.

Try this useful trust signals:

  • Testimonials from ordinary users.
  • Testimonials from well-known or power users.
  • Logos of well-known companies who are customers
  • Credit card symbols
  • BBB membership symbols
  • TrustE certificate
  • Spam guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee

Here are how other companies use trust signals

HelpScout features a few companies who use their service:

5 trusted by 5000

They also feature testimonials from well-known people and services:

help scout testimonials

Guy Kawasaki, a well-known figure, provides a testimonial for Buffer:

7 guy k quote

KISSmetrics has a similar set of trust signals:

kissmetrics is trusted

Here’s what Evergage’s testimonials and trust signals look like, both featured on their homepage.

9 who uses everengage

The type of company names you feature will depend on what type of industry you service. For example, Totango caters to other SaaS companies. Thus, their list of featured companies is focused on SaaS providers:

10 smart sass companies

Many software providers actually have a whole section of their site devoted to trust signals. This page, usually “Testimonials” or “Customers,” is a great place to establish a deep level of trust due to the sheer number of satisfied customers.

Here is Intercom’s testimonials page:

11 the feeling is mutual

4. Provide live chat.

A lot of times, users want to speak to someone before they make a big purchase. At the very least, they want to assure themselves of a human connection prior to parting with thousands of dollars.

This is where the power of live chat comes into play. A live chat team should be on hand during normal business hours to answer questions, respond to concerns, and help persuade users to convert.

Obviously live chat team members aren’t there to make sales. They are there to answer questions. Let the user convert on their own. Hard-driving sales tactics by a live chat help desk member will probably just alienate potential buyers.

Be sure not to make the live chat feature intrusive. If a user wants to chat, they’ll find that chat box.

Buffer provides live chat on their homepage.

12 buffer home page

If your business is not online, then be sure to provide some substitute for live chat. Here’s what KISSmetrics does if a user lands on the page during non-business hours.

13 sorry were offline

The user can still ask questions. Plus, they know when they can come back for a live chat session.

5. Identify your Common Conversion Activities

One of the more advanced techniques to improving conversions for big deals is the CCA metric — common conversion activities. Lincoln Murphy who designed this approach describes it in his article, “Increase your SaaS Free Trial Conversion Rate with this Key Metric.

The “key metric” is the Common Conversion Activities — “The things that all or most paying customers do during their trial.” Murphy’s more advanced definition is “a set of story-driven actions defined by falsified hypothesis that, when completed as a set during the trial, lead to conversion.”

14 CCSs defined

By focusing on a certain number of CCAs, you can become much more targeted at improving your product, shaping your approach, optimizing your free trial, and eventually converting customers on a high-priced product.

The CCA is a metric, but it’s not a financial one. This may seem counterintuitive, since your goal is to improve revenue due to conversions on high-priced purchases. What the CCA does, however, is takes the focus away from the financials, which are secondary, and on to the product, which is the primary concern of a high-paying user.

Murphy’s slide show on the topic is helpful for understanding this concept

Nailing these CCAs will enable you to power up both your conversion and marketing.

Conclusion

With high-priced SaaS, the stakes are higher. Not only does the item cost more, but your revenue will be higher, too.

That’s the great thing about it. There’s a certain satisfaction that you will experience when you’re able to sell your service, and to see how much your customers appreciate it.

How do you persuade users to convert on high-priced products?

About the Author: is a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

  1. Raises a good point about how a lower price may scare some customers in fear of lack of value. Personally, I’m recently engaged and we’re shopping around for a photographer. Looking for high quality service, we hesitated at contacting those with too low of a price. We’ll do our due diligence and speak with most of these people anyway, but a low price in this situation is almost a turn off.

    • Yep! If you’re going to spend money on a B2B service, it’s not like you have to ask your spouse if you can throw down a credit card or not. Definitely charge as much as you can. You’ll be doing your customers a favor because you’ll have more capital to continue to improve and simply keep your service online. Nothing is worse than signing up for a killer service to have it go out of business.

      Finally, business software is a tax deduction for businesses which just reinforces the fact that the pricing mindset is completely different than a B2C sales.

  2. Stuart Clayton Nov 06, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Great post! I wish I had read this years ago, we spent the last few years learning everything outlined here. For a long time we were compared to, and compared ourselves to, lower quality freemuim file delivery solutions. We have since tripled our prices and are considered a premium B2B service and no one mentions the cheap alternatives anymore. We now have a small high paying business customer base and it’s growing at a great rate!

    The success of our business has completely hinged on the advice given here.

  3. Great article Neil!

    One thing I would like to see is some analytics/metrics on the live chat usage. My initial concern is that it hardly gets used! I’m sure there’s a scale element (buffer has lots of potential customers), but would be interested to know.

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