How To Find the Selling Price per Unit (With Examples)

By Thomas Bennett Financial expert at Priceva
Published on June 5, 2024
Navigating the intricacies of pricing strategies is a pivotal aspect of business management, especially when it comes to determining the selling price per unit. This concept not only plays a crucial role in defining a company's profitability margins but also in how it positions itself within the competitive landscape. Mastering the calculation of the selling price per unit can lead to optimized pricing strategies that boost revenue while fostering long-term customer relationships. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to accurately calculate the selling price per unit, incorporating practical examples to illuminate the process.

What is the Selling Price per Unit?

The selling price per unit is a fundamental concept in the realm of business and economics, denoting the price at which a single unit of a product or service is sold to consumers. It's a critical determinant of a company's revenue streams and, by extension, its profitability. Calculating the selling price per unit requires a delicate balance; it must be high enough to cover costs and generate profit, yet competitive enough to attract buyers. This balance hinges on various factors, including production costs, market demand, and the perceived value of the product or service offered.

Cost per Unit vs. Price per Unit

Distinguishing between cost per unit and price per unit is crucial for effective pricing strategies. The cost per unit reflects the total expenses incurred in producing or acquiring a product, including materials, labor, and overhead. This figure is pivotal for businesses to understand their operational efficiency and cost control mechanisms. Conversely, the price per unit is the amount that customers pay to purchase the product. Setting this price involves not just covering the cost per unit but also adding a markup that accounts for profit margins, competitive positioning, and customer willingness to pay. The art of pricing, therefore, lies in balancing these elements to achieve business objectives while satisfying market expectations.

How to Calculate the Selling Price per Unit

Calculating the selling price per unit is a nuanced process that necessitates a deep dive into both cost analysis and strategic pricing considerations. This methodology is vital for businesses aiming to secure profitability and maintain a competitive edge in the market. As companies strive to foster long-term customer relationships, understanding the interplay between cost, price, and value becomes essential. Here, we elaborate on the steps involved, enriching the discussion with a focus on the dynamics between buyer and seller, the art of negotiation, and the pursuit of mutually beneficial deals.

1. Calculate the Variable Cost per Unit

Identifying variable costs is the cornerstone of pricing strategy. These costs, which can vary significantly with production output, include direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead. For businesses, the challenge lies not just in accurately calculating these costs but also in leveraging this information to set a base price that not only covers production expenses but also aligns with the market’s willingness to pay. Effective negotiation skills and an understanding of the sales process are crucial at this stage. Sales representatives must be adept at showing customers the value behind the price, ensuring that the final price reflects both the cost incurred and the value offered. This initial step lays the groundwork for establishing a price point that promises a good deal for both the buyer and the seller, encouraging the cultivation of beneficial long-term relationships.

2. Determine Your Net Sales

Net sales, the revenue from selling products or services minus returns, allowances, and discounts, offer a clear lens through which companies can view their actual sales performance. This metric is pivotal, serving as a critical indicator of the health of the sales process and the effectiveness of the pricing strategy in place. It requires businesses to balance the need for competitive pricing with the imperative of covering service costs and generating a profit. The ability to negotiate favorable payment terms, offer better prices without compromising profitability, and understand the buyer's perspective are all skills that the best negotiators in any business will master. Ultimately, determining net sales is about finding common ground where the company's offerings are perceived as providing high value at the right price, paving the way for sustainable business growth and robust buyer-seller relationships.

3. Find the Contribution Margin per Unit

The contribution margin per unit is a critical figure in the pricing strategy puzzle. By subtracting the variable cost per unit from the selling price per unit, businesses can ascertain how much each sale contributes toward fixed costs and profit. This calculation is more than just arithmetic; it's a strategic tool that enables companies to make informed decisions about pricing, production levels, and market positioning. A higher contribution margin signals a more profitable item, providing a valid reason to prioritize its sales. The goal is to set prices that not only cover costs but also offer a value proposition that customers are willing to pay for, thereby reinforcing the foundation for long-term customer relationships. Understanding and applying this concept helps businesses navigate the complexities of the market, ensuring that they remain competitive while still turning a profit.

4. Add the Variable Cost per Unit to the Contribution Margin per Unit

The culmination of this process is determining the selling price by adding the variable cost per unit to the desired contribution margin per unit. This critical step ensures that the set price covers all associated costs and secures the targeted profit margin, aligning the business’s financial objectives with market realities. This stage embodies the essence of strategic pricing, requiring businesses to draw upon their negotiating prowess, understanding of the buyer-seller dynamic, and insights into customer expectations. By crafting a price that reflects the true value of the product or service, companies can position themselves as trusted partners in the eyes of their customers, offering solutions that meet the customer's request for quality and value. This approach not only secures the deal but also sets the stage for the development of long-term relationships based on trust, value, and mutual respect.

Selling Price per Unit Examples

Understanding how to determine the selling price per unit through theoretical explanations lays the groundwork, but exploring practical examples illuminates the process, demonstrating its applicability across various business contexts. These examples not only reveal the formula's flexibility and universality but also underscore the importance of strategic pricing in building long-term customer relationships and negotiating favorable outcomes that benefit both buyer and seller.

Example 1

Historically, several high-profile cases have shown how pervasive and damaging price fixing can be. Notorious price fixing examples include the lysine cartel, which involved major agribusinesses conspiring to fix the price of animal feed additives, and the global banks involved in the LIBOR scandal, manipulating interest rates to profit from trades. These cases, along with others involving industries from air cargo to e-books, highlight the widespread nature and potential financial rewards of price fixing.

Variable cost per unit: $5
Desired contribution margin per unit: $10
Selling price per unit: $5 (variable cost) + $10 (contribution margin) = $15
This pricing strategy does more than just cover the costs; it positions your candles as premium products, justifying the higher price with the quality and uniqueness they bring to the table. Setting the selling price at $15 ensures that your financial goals are met, production costs are covered, and customers perceive they are receiving a good deal, fostering a sense of value and satisfaction.

Example 2

Consider the scenario of launching a software subscription service, a domain where variable costs, including server expenses and customer support, play a significant role. With total variable costs reaching $2000 per month and a target of selling 200 subscriptions, the variable cost per subscription is calculated at $10. Here, the desired contribution margin of $40 per subscription is a reflection of the need to cover fixed costs and fund further software development, ensuring the service evolves and remains competitive.

Variable cost per subscription: $10
Desired contribution margin per subscription: $40
Selling price per subscription: $10 (variable cost) + $40 (contribution margin) = $50

By setting a monthly subscription price at $50, you balance the equation of covering costs and making the service attractive to potential customers. This pricing strategy takes into account not only the tangible aspects, such as the software's functionality and reliability but also intangible elements like customer support and user experience, adding value that customers are willing to pay for.


Determining the selling price per unit is a vital exercise for businesses seeking to navigate the complex dynamics of the marketplace successfully. By meticulously calculating variable costs, determining net sales, finding the contribution margin, and setting a strategic selling price, companies can enhance their pricing strategies, ensuring competitiveness and profitability. It's a delicate balance between covering costs, achieving profitability, and meeting market expectations — a balance that, when struck, can lead to sustainable business growth and strengthened customer relationships.

Priceva's suite of tools and services is designed to empower businesses in achieving this balance. With our expertise and technology, companies can optimize their pricing strategies, making informed decisions that drive success. For businesses looking to refine their approach to pricing, explore how Priceva can provide the insights and support needed to excel in today's competitive market.


How do you calculate selling price per unit?

Calculating the selling price per unit starts with the variable cost per unit, to which the desired contribution margin is added. This approach ensures the price not only covers all associated costs but also generates a profit, reflecting the principle that successful business transactions hinge on understanding and addressing the buyer's needs and expectations while ensuring the seller's sustainability.

What is the selling price per unit?

The selling price per unit is the price at which a product or service is offered to customers, critical for generating revenue and ensuring the profitability of a business. This figure is pivotal in the sales process, as it influences the buyer's decision-making process and the overall perception of value, requiring businesses to carefully balance cost, price, and perceived value.

What is the formula for price per unit?

The formula for determining the price per unit involves adding the variable cost per unit to the desired contribution margin per unit. This calculation is foundational to creating a pricing strategy that aligns with both the company's financial goals and the market's price sensitivity, ensuring that the business remains competitive and profitable.

How do you calculate sales in units?

To calculate sales in units, divide the total revenue by the selling price per unit. This metric provides insight into the volume of products sold, offering businesses a clear picture of their sales performance and the effectiveness of their pricing strategy. Understanding sales in units is essential for evaluating how well the product or service meets the market demand and customer's request for quality and affordability.

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