The Ultimate Guide to Cloud PBX Pricing Models
May 9, 2024 · 7 min to read
There are many different pricing models to choose from for your cloud PBX service. Some companies offer one package for all clients, while others offer multiple packages with various features and capabilities. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of such models and decide what’s more suitable for selling a cloud PBX service.
Some telecom operators offer a free cloud PBX with a few features to try. As usual, such operators primarily sell telephony and provide a free service as an additional advantage to stand out. If clients need something more robust, they purchase advanced features.
3CX offers a free phone system with limited features, but at the same time, the company has other pricing plans for different B2B buyer personas. In this case, new clients just try a service for free and can upgrade their plan.
  • Scalable client base. It’s easier to attract new customers with a free service. Your cloud PBX can quickly become popular, especially if you offer in-demand features. Besides, you can nurture these customers and offer them paid plans or add-ons.
  • Easy test. If you want to test an MVP, this freemium model is a great chance to learn what cloud PBX features potential customers prefer or don’t use. Thanks to the extensive user base, conducting UX research will be easier.
  • Lost revenue. People love freebies, and your model will be a great chance to use a cloud PBX without spending money. In this case, you will spend your resources to support the customers who pay you nothing.
  • Unprofitable positioning. Your cloud PBX will be positioned as a free service, so some of your new clients won’t even plan to pay. They can hear reviews from colleagues who use a free version and are satisfied with it.
As usual, the freemium model suits companies that don’t sell a cloud PBX as a main service. For example, they can primarily provide VoIP services and offer a free hosted PBX to retain existing customers. If you plan to become a professional cloud PBX provider and don’t have an extensive subscriber base yet, focus on other models discussed further.
Flat-Rate Pricing
This model offers only one pricing plan for all subscribers. For a cloud PBX, you can create a single package with all possible features. Your prospects' only decision is whether to purchase this plan or choose another cloud PBX provider.
The company in the screenshot below decided to set one pricing plan ($59,99) for all standard features, such as call transfer, voicemails, IVR, etc. There’s no option to choose add-ons or other packages in their positioning.
  • Easy to choose. For customers, clicking “Pay” is enough to access all available features without comparing different options. The unknowledgeable audience can appreciate this approach.
  • Easy to implement. Telecom operators don’t need to create a pricing calculator or other complex website blocks with packages — they only need to set a price even without analyzing competitors’ plans. Furthermore, selling one package isn’t as complicated as selling multiple plans with various options.
  • Broad target audience. One package can’t satisfy every company to which you sell a cloud PBX. Some companies need only call recording and statistics, while others need advanced features such as call tracking and CRM integrations.
  • Lost revenue. Suppose a B2B client uses many complex features per month and doesn’t pay extra money. In that case, a telecom operator can lose a lot of revenue just because the expenses of supporting such a client will be more than the subscription fee.
Flat-rate pricing can be suitable for companies aiming to test an MVP because there’s no need to analyze competitors thoroughly and create different buyer personas. In other cases, it will be hard to attract a lot of subscribers and scale the cloud PBX service with only one package. To offer a professional service, you should focus on models with different pricing plans.
Digital Tide will help you launch a white-label cloud PBX service, implement a pricing strategy, and take on other essential activities.
Usage-Based Pricing
This model involves creating multiple packages for different opportunities or calculating used storage, features, or other measurable points after the subscription periods. The more customers use a cloud PBX, the more they pay.
SIPcity, a VoIP provider, specified many packages with only differences in the number of local numbers and SIP channels. Customers will see all packages and find out the approximate number of numbers and SIP channels that best suit them. Free cloud PBX features are also included in every plan.
  • Clarity for customers. Prospects will see what they pay for, and it’s cost-effective for them. If clients find out the chosen plan isn’t enough, they will select another package with more capabilities.
  • Saved revenue. Cloud PBX providers won’t lose money if some customers use the service heavily. Usage-based pricing stands out compared with freemium and flat-rate models.
  • Overwhelming for newbies. Various packages can confuse users who don’t know the service well. For sales reps, selling the cloud PBX will be hard, too, because explaining all such details can be challenging. In other words, the easier the plans are for both sides to comprehend, the better.
  • Possible sticker shock. If your service doesn’t have accurate pricing per subscription period, a client can incorrectly estimate usage capabilities and receive an unexpected colossal bill, leading to churn.
As a rule, usage-based pricing suits companies that sell other telecom services primarily and want to retain existing subscribers. For telecom operators that want to make a cloud PBX service a main, it will be harder to attract new customers because the positioning based on only usage isn’t clear for end customers. Focusing on sought-after features and forming plans based on competitive advantages is much better.
Tiered Pricing
In this case, companies form a few packages with additional parameters and let users create their best plan. Usually, cloud PBX providers offer three pricing plans and target different B2B buyer personas.
Nextiva offers Essential, Professional, and Enterprise plans. Each further package has all the features of the previous one and adds new features. Moreover, potential customers can choose the number of users and combine it with plans — as a result, they get a unique pricing package designed for specific needs.
  • Different buyer personas. A cloud PBX service is beneficial for small teams and large enterprises. The tiered pricing can attract different customers so that revenue won’t be lost with this model.
  • Upselling clarity. If users see that their current plan isn’t enough, they can easily switch to another level. If you specify the differences between each package, it’ll be easier for customers to choose the most appropriate plan.
  • Overwhelming for clients. When users see a lot of customizable points and have to choose the most appropriate plan, it’s always more challenging to decide. This strategy is suitable when your target audience is knowledgeable about the cloud PBX characteristics, but not every B2B client has that expertise.
  • Hard to implement. For example, flat-rate and usage-based pricing make it easier to specify the price. With the tiered pricing model, you need to know what features your buyer personas need most and what differences in needs they have. You can’t just combine random cloud PBX features and offer them as packages.
Though tiered pricing requires thorough market analysis and complicated implementation, it will scale the service and increase revenue. As for the number of packages, it’s better to create three or four plans and highlight the most popular. If you form fewer, it will be harder to attract new buyer personas, and if you create more, various packages can confuse users.

Besides, you can offer an annual billing with a significant discount, which benefits both sides. This approach can help you get upfront resources and survive a financial crisis (as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Per-User Pricing
This model means that your customers will pay a fixed price only for employees they have. You can set one price for one user and offer to specify the number. Or you can form packages with only differences in the number of users (this strategy is similar to the usage-based pricing discussed above).
IP Telecom, Ireland’s VoIP provider, offers only one price per user for its phone system. The company specifies that its service has all essential features and provides a discount depending on the number of users purchased.
  • Clarity for customers. There’s no need to look into service specifics: clients should choose only the number of their employees and start using the cloud PBX.
  • Predictable revenue growth. When your clients constantly pay you a specific amount for a fixed number of users, you can forecast your revenue. Of course, clients can change the number of users, but this happens rarely.
  • Account sharing. Some companies want to save money and purchase only a few or even one shared account for their staff. This approach can lead to revenue loss for a cloud PBX provider.
  • Lack of value. The ability to add new users doesn’t say anything about the advantages of your cloud PBX service. You just make potential customers focus solely on the peripheral metrics that won’t reflect real value to end users.
The problem with this model is the same as with the usage-based pricing. Instead of focusing on cloud PBX advantages and competitive characteristics, this model highlights the secondary points that won’t attract customers effectively.
Per-Feature Pricing
In this case, companies may have a basic package with a minimal set of features and offer add-ons or sell completely distinct features. They specify different pricing for each feature and sell them separately.
OnSIP provides a basic phone system package with essential functionality and offers the option to purchase separate features such as auto attendant, enhanced music on hold, call recording, etc. Customers can customize their plans with such possibilities.
  • Specific target audience. If you want to target primarily expert customers, you can offer multiple cloud PBX features to choose from and allow for creating a unique plan for their specific needs.
  • Heavy features compensation. Some cloud PBX features can require a lot of support and technical capability to maintain. Thanks to the per-feature pricing model, you won’t lose revenue due to unexpectedly high usage of advanced features.
  • Lack of motivation. The problem is that when a sales rep sells only features separately, they’re not motivated so much. They don't get so much money from every sale and don’t want to spend much time offering such possibilities to clients.
  • It can overwhelm customers. This situation is the same as with the tiered pricing model. When unknowledgeable prospects see many features and need to choose from them, they can decide that your cloud PBX service is complex and move to your competitors.
Offering features out of packages is good only when you have experienced sales reps who understand a cloud PBX service perfectly. As a rule, companies choose this model if they have knowledgeable product experts ready to train their staff regularly. Otherwise, it’s much better to form packages with sought-after features — this will help your reps get a positive sales experience without deep expertise.
We’ve covered different pricing models for a cloud PBX service and shown you various options. Nevertheless, telecom operators' experience has shown that tiered pricing is the best model for cloud PBX providers. It’s not as complex for customers as per-feature pricing and targets different B2B buyer personas. Despite the complicated implementation, the results will compensate as specific companies can choose the most appropriate plan.

Other models aren’t ideal for the following reasons: high expenses on maintaining clients, weak motivation for sales reps, or unclear package conditions. Of course, the final decision will depend on the clients you want to target, so you can try different models and decide what’s best for your cloud PBX service.
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