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How To Set A Selling Price For Your Product Or Service

Jan 11, 2008
Fixing the selling price can be based upon a value basis or a cost plus basis with either basis subject to modification according to market conditions. Not exactly scientific and true in all cases but the most profitable businesses tend to be managed by accountants while the best sales growth companies have a sales oriented manager at the helm.

Value basis is used to set selling prices according to the amount the customer will pay for the product and the value of products or services being provided. A strong influence when using a value basis are the benefits a customer will derive from purchasing the product from each business compared with alternative suppliers and the general market rate for that type of product.

Using a value basis that prices products above the general market level requires support and a marketing strategy to demonstrate to the market place the benefits and advantages a prospective client receives. Pricing a product or service below the accepted market price requires to be supported with ensuring as wide an audience as possible is aware of the bargain prices and the reasons why a lower price is being offered.

To establish the most profitable level at which selling prices should be pitched it is important to conduct market research to determine the general level of pricing within the product area. Also list the benefits and advantages within the context of other competitive products of the specific products being offered to enable the business to use these factors in support of the price structure adopted.

To maximum level at which value basis prices can be set is dependent upon the value the target customer places on that product or service taking into consideration the quality, service, availability and benefits provided.

Cost based pricing is a financial accounting calculation based upon fixing a gross profit margin that the business requires given the expected sales volume and fixed overhead or operating costs to produce a net profit. Normally a sales price set using a cost basis would be the amount paid for the product plus an incremental percentage.

Cost based pricing usually occurs in areas where competition is often working on the same cost basis and by selling similar products and services the volume of sales is sensitive to competitive prices. Market research should establish the range of competitive prices.

There are a number of influences that impact on setting the selling price of a product in addition to the cost and competition. Sales location, added values, buying policy, operational costs and others all require factoring into the calculation. Business size also has an influence as small business accounting is less sophisticated than accounting and financial control in larger businesses.

The tow single most important factors in setting the selling price of a product or service to generate the highest profit margin attainable are the competition and the original cost of the product.

In many cases the existing competition has already set a price for the product. Each business has to decide whether to accept this price according to the expected volume and the gross profit margin generated or charge a higher or lower price with the consequential effect on sales volume.

The purchase price paid drives the competitive edge. Larger business have greater opportunities to buy in larger quantities and obtain cheaper prices and many high volume businesses will search to source products from overseas markets to obtain even cheaper products.

If the purchase price paid by competitors is low then that cost must be either matched by adopting similar business practises or the products sold into a niche area of the market where more flexible prices can be obtained at the required volume to generate the gross margin required to cover fixed operating costs and achieve the target net profit.

Different prices can be set for different customers to exploit higher profit margins where possible and achieve higher volumes in market conditions where the price has a major influence on quantities bought. A manufacturer will often set different prices for each customer dependent on volumes purchased and the negotiation skills of the client purchasing function.

Market conditions often determine a range of pricing policies including offering quantity discounts for higher volumes, cash discounts for faster settlement, lower than normal prices to allow a market to be penetrated and established more easily and higher than normal prices in situations where supply may exceed demand. The accounting software or bookkeeping system employed should identify gains and losses due to different pricing structures.

The levels of supply and demand may change over time and a flexible pricing policy to take advantage of these changes is desirable. It is an economic fact that when demand exceeds supply prices will increase and when supply exceeds demand prices go lower. Failure to react quickly has a major impact on the total gross margin attained.

The overriding decision to be taken on setting selling prices is the amount of gross profit generated by the sales volume of those products in relation to current business policy and fixed operating costs and profit requirements that business needs to achieve and demonstrate through the accounting figures produced by the final bookkeeping reckoning.

From an accounting point of view the sales volume and price of each product should be calculated to determine the previous gross profit margin attained and planned for the future. The actual or forecast gross profit margins must cover the fixed operating costs of the business or remedial action taken to ensure the business is profitable. Setting prices is a combined decision of the sales and accounting function.
About the Author
Terry Cartwright is a qualified accountant in the UK designs Accounting Software on excel spreadsheets providing complete Small Business Software solutions for small to medium sized business requiring simple Bookkeeping templates
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