The one gripe I have about many of the companies of automation software is that they do not print the price of there tool on their websites. Only a few do (usually the cheaper ones!).
What I'm asking for...if anyone has a document on the cost or know of the price of some of the larger automation software packages such as...Test Architect, Quick Test Pro, Silk Test, Test Complete, RadView...etc..
Honestly, it depends on a lot of things beyond just posting the price.
If you buy more, or bundle the tools, they usually work with you on the proce per seat, and there are different licensing scenarios (concurrent or individual seat) that affect it.
The best thing to do is the only thing you can do and call them to work out your situation.
I think it is a plus to be forced to do it as well since the price of a tool isn't an indication of the tool fitting your needs. This forces you to go through the POC with the vendor to ensure what you are wanting to purchase is the tool you need.
In the past I have found that talking to the appropriate sales rep can get an idea of the cost. Once a decision has been made (after POC)negotiations are started and I have not yet paid as much as the originally quoted price. If you have flexibility and you are in negations towards the end of a Sales Quota period you can very often get superb deals. It also helps to have more than one vendor under consideration so that they are in competition.
What you should do first is download the tools like TestComplete which are probably ten times cheaper than Winrunner, etc. If that product works for you then fine. You would have been able to do the POC yourself with no hassle from the sales rep and if it works you have saved several thousand pounds (UK here). If that doesn't work or one of the other equivalent priced tools then you can go to the more expensive vendors. You can also download QTP for 14 days and again try it out on your own application.
Now it depends whether your question is loaded some testers just want a tool from the big boys so they can further their own CV. However if you are client focused you would start with the cheapest to see if it fulfills there need and if it does everyones a winner.
Rayr's idea sounds like a complete waste of time until you realize the following:
Until you've used a tool on your application and learned what's hard and what's easy - you won't be able to tell when a salesman/consultant/wizard is lying to you in his demo. (Hints: 1. His app is trivial. 2. His app was written for his test tool. 3. There are no external dependencies. 4. He's done it HUNDREDS of times with the same app and same tool. 5. His lips are moving.)
It is not a waste of time to learn to use a tool, even if you give that tool up. The knowledge and experience is yours and makes it that much faster to use another tool next time.
Become knowledgeable so you can select the right tool. The sale's guys job is NOT to sell you the right tool but to sell you HIS tool.
Type each test tool in to a job search engine, see which pays the most. Wouldn't even bother with all that POC rubbish - haven't seen a post detailing what a cheap functional test tool can do that an expensive one can't .
This may overlap with the loyalty post but I have worked for a company that didn't want to implement automated tools becasue they didn't want to pay there staff more or risk losing them.