With SaaS sales, is it better to have an annual price or a monthly price, billed annually?

It is better for a very long time to let the customer buy how they are most comfortable buying. This removes friction from the sales process, leading to a higher and faster close rate.

Let’s take a look at Zoom. Zoom is growing > 100% at $500m in ARR, in an already well established space. It may be the most successful SMB-focused app of our current generation.

Zoom does not play games. Zoom lets small groups pay monthly if they want, and easily. No hiding the monthly option, no pricing confusion:

In fact 26% of Zoom’s customers still pay monthly, even at $500m+ in ARR:

More here: 5 Interesting Learnings From Zoom. As It IPOs. | SaaStr

Small business and individuals often prefer to pay monthly, even at a significantly higher price (e.g., often 20%+ higher). Certainly not always, but often. The money is often literally, or figuratively, out of their own pocket. Few of us like to pay rent annually, even if it were cheaper.

Bigger customers, though, find most monthly payments a huge accounting headache. And they pay out of an annual budget, not their own credit card. So a discount for annual is appealing to them. The annualized cost is already baked into their budget. And dealing with accounting every month to get a credit card payment approved isn’t worth the trouble.

In the end, if you sell to mostly small businesses, and give customers an option, you’ll likely see a split, like Zoom and others.

If you take the monthly option away, you just make buying your app harder. Yes, nominal churn may seem lower by removing a monthly option. But that’s an illusion. If they churn at the end of a yearly subscription, or 6 months into a monthly one, they’re still gone. It doesn’t really matter much when they leave.

It’s your job to fight to keep them.

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Eventually … when you are hyper-mature, and maybe growing 15%. Then maybe pricing games are worth it. But until then, make it easier to buy. Key to that is letting customers buy the way they want to buy. It’s worked for Zoom and Slack just fine.

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Published on June 27, 2019

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