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Ask about the budget

A few days ago Mule’s Mike Monteiro published a post titled, “Why I Need to Know Your Budget.”

“Not everyone knows what their budget is. And that’s ok. It just means we’ll discuss a few options. Some below your price range, some above. It’ll take a little longer.

“But if you know what your budget is; let us know. It’ll save us all from having to look at everything on the [car] lot.”

You should read the full story.

Dodge St Regis hood ornament
Photo credit: Dodge St Regis hood ornament

Some clients will say they don’t know, perhaps because they’re unsure if the figure they have in mind is suitable. For times like these here’s a tip from Carlos Segura, founder of Chicago-based Segura Inc.

“When clients tell you they don’t have a number say, ‘Oh, ok. So a $100,000 solution would work for you?’ They’ll quickly come back… ‘Oh no, probably something more around $30K.’ Bingo: That’s the budget.”

The sooner we talk to prospective clients about money, the less time wasted for both parties.

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10 comments about “Ask about the budget”

  1. I love the tip from Carlos Segura. The perfect combination of clever and sneaky.

  2. What a great line – much needed after the budget wrangling nightmares that ensued last week for me. Thanks!

  3. Haha : ) I’ll definitely use the tip from Carlos next time I end up in that situation! : ) Genius!

    The less time we spend on figuring out the budget the more time and effort we can pour into figuring out the best solution that fits said budget.

    I also think that a lot of prospects/clients say they “don’t have a number” simply cause they’re afraid of getting ripped off or hope they can get it done for less than the figure they have in mind.

  4. Good post, interesting tip to take into consideration.

  5. +1 for the tip from Carlos. LOVED that!

  6. In my experience; asking about the budget outright usually results in a slightly suspicious raised eyebrow from the client, who (I assume) worries that the quote will miraculously match whatever figure they say next.

    I find a short preamble leading up to that question can help a lot. for example:

    “When you’re printing a book lots of factors can affect the price: the number of pages, the number of ink colours used, even the type of paper. Do you have a specific budget set aside for this? It would really help me to tailor these options to suit you.”

    I think this really makes it clear that you are asking the question to help improve your service. And of course, if they still won’t give you a number Carlos’ tip would still work excellently!

  7. Love the tip.

    Some are reluctant to give a budget range but, as mentioned in the tip, a good client will have the right information at hand and, after a little discussion, will pass over the information to you.

    Afterall, this is often the start of the new partnership and openness is key to a good relationship.

  8. This is one question that Ive always been a bit cautious of asking clients. I guess, every client, if seriously interested in your services will have a budget for it. I think the key to it is the way in which you get this information out of them. It has worked for me in the past, because once I know a budget I can tailor make a package which is ideally suited around them. I suppose, the downside of asking the budget is that some clients make get a bit suspicious if your quote is then very similar to their budget.

    Having said that, aslong as your quote is realistic, even if the client does further research, gets additional quotes etc, you should be in a position to compete for winning that work.

  9. Sometimes “bracketing” can work.

    Once you have an idea of what the client wants, you can say that “typically, clients that want XYZ will spend between £XX,XXX and £XX,XXX… where are you on that scale?”

    They’ll often go for the lower, so bracket high.

  10. At the minute I tend to give a general price range at the start, Chris, before asking too many questions. Potential clients won’t waste time if I’m over their budget, and I don’t need to do too much before finding out.

Anything to add?

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