Electronic Signature Solution Pricing on the Rise

By Kristian Tuinzing

Client Services Manager, NPI

June 30, 2020

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Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, businesses continue to adapt practices to address communication challenges.  Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, GoToMeeting and other remote conferencing solutions have naturally received increased attention given their usefulness. But there is another space experiencing a surge in demand: electronic signature solutions.

At the beginning of 2020, many business processes were still heavily reliant on physical signatures, but coronavirus has forced companies to change their thinking on this subject, and change their processes. Electronic signature solution usage was already soaring when 2020 started. Now, we are seeing universal interest and this trend is only likely to continue.

Another trend? Higher pricing, higher margins and greater pricing disparity. In addition to performing IT price benchmark analysis on all electronic signature solution purchases and renewals, NPI advises companies to do the following to avoid overspending on these transactions:

Be Careful Establishing ‘Tiered’ Pricing Structures

Tiered pricing using a volume-based structure is a ubiquitous feature in electronic signature agreements due to the solutions’ tendency to quickly scale in many businesses.  Although tiered pricing structures can offer some beneficial automatic pricing protections, NPI finds this can encourage customers to overbuy to hit better unit pricing that may not even be within fair market value pricing range to start.  Tiered reductions on unit cost are most useful when usage is uncertain, but even then NPI recommends weighing how the fee structure matches future plans.

Investigate All Vendor Pricing Models

In the earlier days of electronic signature solution pricing, most vendors relied on counted metrics often termed “per envelope” or simply per signature.  As the market has matured and become more crowded, pricing models have moved to include other models such as per user licensing with unlimited envelopes, costs for both users and envelopes, and even true “unlimited” agreements.  Even with market leaders, NPI finds agreements and pricing models are often quite pliable and customers are recommended to push for what makes sense internally to business users, not the vendor.

Consider Utilizing More Than One Electronic Signature Solution

One unfortunate result of this surge in business is healthy pipelines have made some sales/account teams less inclined to negotiate on price. As a countermeasure, NPI is seeing a growing number of enterprises use more than one vendor, plugging secondary solutions into specific use cases to gain leverage.  NPI recommends determining a fair market value pricing target based on internal volumes, and leading potential RFPs (and negotiations) with that unit cost.