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Is Outcome Based Pricing Model The Best Strategy For SMEs? ⏳


In the dynamic world of small business, pricing strategies are the linchpin that can either propel growth or lead to stagnation. Traditional pricing models, such as fixed pricing or hourly rates strategy, have long been the go-to methods for small businesses. However, these models often fall short of delivering value to both businesses and their clients. In response to these limitations, a new pricing paradigm is emerging as a game-changer for small businesses—outcome based pricing model.


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Traditional hourly and fixed fee pricing models in small businesses present challenges, including client cost uncertainty, difficulty in earnings estimation, and a disconnect between effort and value. Fixed pricing lacks efficiency incentives, leading to time-padding. These models also shift risk unfairly to clients.


In this article, we are going to discuss outcome-based pricing in small businesses. First, we will examine the current trends in pricing strategies, focusing on outcome-based pricing. Then, we will provide insights on implementing this pricing model effectively and its implications for small businesses. We argue that small businesses can embrace outcome-based pricing to align interests with clients, drive efficiency and value, and maintain competitiveness.


At Value Culture, we believe that small business owners should be open to internal changes and considerations that can produce effective pricing models. By the end, you will know whether outcome-based pricing is suitable for your small business and how to ensure its successful implementation.


Why SMEs Should Try The Outcome Based Pricing Model?


Small businesses are undergoing a transformation in their pricing strategies as they grapple with the shortcomings of traditional models. Outcome-based pricing, characterised by its emphasis on delivering tangible results and fostering mutually beneficial outcomes, is swiftly gaining momentum. Let’s explore these burgeoning trends:


Why is outcome based pricing model becoming more popular?


1. Alignment with Client Goals


Outcome-based pricing models place client goals at the forefront. Small businesses are recognising the value of aligning their services with specific client objectives. This not only fosters a sense of shared purpose but also significantly enhances client satisfaction.


Consider a marketing agency that collaborates with a local bakery. Instead of merely offering marketing services, they define the outcome as a 15% increase in online cake orders for the bakery. By doing so, they ensure that their efforts are in sync with the bakery’s business objectives, leading to a more satisfied client and a successful partnership.


2. Performance-Based Compensation


A fundamental shift is occurring in the compensation structures embraced by small businesses. Rather than billing clients based solely on time spent, they are now shifting towards rewarding their performance. This means that the focus has shifted from the clock to tangible results achieved.


For instance, a small web development company can agree to a pricing structure that ties a portion of their fees to the website’s performance. If the website experiences a 20% increase in traffic, the business earns a bonus. This approach not only incentivises the business to excel but also ensures that the client pays for actual outcomes.


3. Customer-Centric Approach


The advent of outcome-based pricing naturally lends itself to a more customer-centric orientation. This shift prioritises the customer’s needs and underscores the importance of delivering value that is directly proportional to the client’s investment.


As an example, a graphic design studio can adopt outcome-based pricing by agreeing to reduce the fee if a client’s marketing collateral fails to generate a predefined number of leads. This approach not only aligns the interests of the studio with the client’s success but also highlights the studio’s commitment to delivering value.


The adoption of these trends signifies a paradigm shift in how small businesses interact with clients. By focusing on aligning goals, performance-driven compensation, and customer-centricity, small businesses are positioning themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving marketplace.


Discussion On The Essence And Implementation Of Outcome Based Pricing Model


Outcome-based pricing is a pricing model where a business charges clients based on the results or outcomes achieved rather than hours worked or fixed fees. Here’s a closer look at the key components and advantages of this approach:


Implementing An Outcome Based Pricing Model


Outcome Based Pricing Model Element #1: Defining Clear Outcomes


In the realm of outcome-based pricing, the pivotal starting point is the articulation of distinct and quantifiable outcomes or deliverables. These outcomes serve as the bedrock upon which pricing is constructed. Consider this practical example: Imagine a marketing agency engaged with a client’s e-commerce venture. Their defined outcome? An ambitious 20% surge in website traffic. By concretely specifying this outcome, both the agency and the client set the stage for a pricing structure firmly rooted in achievable objectives.


Outcome Based Pricing Model Element #2: Shared Risk and Reward


Within the outcome-based pricing framework, there’s a pivotal principle: the sharing of both risk and reward. Should the predefined outcomes fall short, the client pays less, and the business earns less in tandem. Conversely, when these outcomes are surpassed, the business reaps greater rewards.


For instance, picture a small business consulting firm. They could strike an agreement with a client, specifying a reduced fee if the client’s profitability doesn’t ascend as anticipated. However, should the target be exceeded, the consulting firm unlocks bonuses. This model fosters a mutually beneficial arrangement that aligns the interests of both parties, sparking motivation and cooperation.


Outcome Based Pricing Model Element #3: Focus on Value Creation


In the realm of outcome-based pricing, a seismic shift occurs—a transition from relentless clock-watching to a steadfast commitment to value creation. Small businesses are not just driven to meet client goals; they’re inspired to do so through innovative and efficient means.


Consider the scenario of a software development company tasked with crafting a mobile app for a client. Instead of merely delivering within a set timeframe and budget, they focus on adding value with features that enhance user experience and functionality. This value-centric approach transforms the very nature of the client-business relationship, driving excellence and mutual satisfaction.


Outcome Based Pricing Model Element #4: Enhanced Client Satisfaction


In the world of outcome-based pricing, transparency reigns supreme. Clients revel in the assurance that they’re not just paying for efforts but for tangible results. This heightened transparency paves the way for stronger client relationships and referrals.


For instance, a small law firm may opt to reduce fees if they fail to resolve a client’s legal matter within the expected timeframe. This practice perfectly aligns the firm’s interests with the client’s. It’s a win-win scenario that begets satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, all elements that underpin the growth of small businesses.



Benefits of Outcome Based Pricing Model


1. Increased Client Trust


The alignment of interests and focus on outcomes builds trust and forges enduring client relationships. For instance, a web development agency that consistently exceeds performance targets for its clients not only cultivates trust but also secures long-term partnerships, fostering business growth and stability.


2. Efficiency and Innovation


This pricing model inspires businesses to uncover more efficient solutions, nurturing innovation. For instance, a digital marketing agency might devise creative strategies to achieve a client’s sales growth target, cultivating an environment of innovation that enhances not only the client’s business but the agency’s own competitive edge.


3. Revenue Growth


Small businesses stand to profit more when they consistently surpass client expectations, thereby paving the way for substantial revenue growth. For example, a software development company that consistently delivers feature-rich applications ahead of schedule, leading to client referrals and an expansion of their customer base, ultimately increasing their revenue.


4. Competitive Advantage


By adopting outcome-based pricing, small businesses can distinguish themselves from competitors still tethered to traditional models. For instance, a small web development agency’s consistent delivery of quicker and more secure websites not only outshines competitors but also establishes its supremacy, attracting more clients and reinforcing its competitive edge in the market.


Challenges In Implementing Outcome Based Pricing Model


1. Outcome Uncertainty


The challenge of predicting outcomes accurately often looms, compelling businesses to be cautious and potentially underprice their services if they lean too conservatively. Imagine a content marketing agency tasked with delivering a 20% increase in website traffic for a client. The uncertain outcome could lead to the agency setting a fee that may not reflect the true potential value they bring to the client.


2. Client Education


Clients often require in-depth education about this pricing model, demanding a significant investment of time and effort. For instance, a small financial advisory firm transitioning to outcome-based pricing may need to educate clients about the tangible benefits and the fundamental shift from time-based billing. This process, though essential, can be time-intensive.


3. Tracking and Measurement


The implementation of outcome-based pricing necessitates meticulous tracking and measurement of results, a process that can be resource-intensive. For example, a small IT support company committed to service level agreements must allocate resources to monitor and measure the performance of their services, ensuring the outcomes meet the established criteria, even during unexpected technical challenges.


4. Risk Management


Small businesses must effectively manage the risk of underperformance, as it could have significant implications on their revenue. Consider an IT support company. To mitigate risk, they must develop contingency plans to uphold their service level agreements, ensuring that they can meet client expectations, even in the face of unforeseen technical challenges. This risk management strategy safeguards their reputation and revenue.


Implications Of Developing Strategies And Programs For An Outcome Based Pricing Model


Small businesses can determine if outcome-based pricing suits them by assessing their alignment with clients’ goals and their ability to deliver quantifiable results. They should consider their willingness to share risk and reward. To implement it effectively with limited resources, a shift in focus from hours worked to value delivered is crucial. Internal changes should include goal-driven service provision, precise outcome tracking, and client communication.


If outcome-based pricing isn’t the right fit, embracing value-based pricing is essential to maintain competitiveness. It ensures that clients pay for the value received, fostering trust and enduring client relationships.


Small- and medium-sized firm employees frequently have their hands full of workloads. But, our findings show that with the right set-up and pricing plans, incremental earnings gains can begin to occur in less than 12 weeks. After 6 months, your teams can capture at least 1.0-3.25% more margin using better price management processes. After 9-12 months, businesses often generate between 7-11% additional margin each year as they identify more complex and previously unrealised opportunities, efficiencies, and risks.


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Bottom Line


Small businesses contemplating the adoption of outcome-based pricing must first assess their alignment with client goals and willingness to share risk and reward. Shifting from traditional pricing models requires a change in focus towards value creation, efficient solutions, and client-centricity. Implementing outcome-based pricing effectively, especially with limited resources, demands internal changes in terms of setting clear, measurable outcomes, precise tracking, and client education.


If this model doesn’t align with their business, small businesses should still prioritise value-based pricing to ensure competitiveness and the cultivation of trust, client satisfaction, and enduring relationships, all of which are vital for long-term growth and success.


For a comprehensive view of ensuring the continuous growth of your business, Download a complimentary brochure on How To Drive Pricing Strategy To Accelerate Sales & EBIT Growth.


Are you a small or medium-sized business in need of help aligning your pricing strategy, people and operations to deliver an immediate impact on profit?

If so, please call (+61) 2 8607 7001.

You can also email us at if you have any further questions.



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