How do you change the price of your SaaS product without upsetting existing customers?

My vote: don’t raise prices for existing customers. At least, not usually. Because it won’t matter.

Think of a start-up growing quickly:

  • $100k in revenue Year 1
  • $1m in Year 2
  • $3m in Year 3
  • $5m in Year 4 …
  • etc.

When you go to raise prices for new customers, that’s impactful.

It will feel impactful to also raise prices on the base because you’ll get a quick bump to your MRR. But it’s just a small bump. It won’t matter much in the long run. Because you’re adding so much new revenue and customers, any price increase from those early, grandfathered customers (e.g., $100k in Year 1 above) won’t be material ultimately.

But if you anger them, lose the referrals, lose the second order revenue? That’s dangerous. All your hard work, your super high NPS and CSAT … can go right down the drain.

This isn’t to say don’t raise prices on existing customers, ever. But it is to suggest do it carefully, if at all. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated. At least with an extra grace period after everyone else has to pay more. Give them an extra 6 months or more, on the old pricing. To say thank you.

Yes, maybe by today’s standards, they are getting a great deal. But your earliest customers also took the biggest risk and bet on you. Take care of them, and make sure any price increases are material in the long run.

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Published on December 19, 2017

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