When I was 18, I knew these 2 guys that bought and sold cars. I happened to be looking for one, so they showed me a Ford Escort. They asked me what my budget was. I told, them $1500. Guess, what? The car happened to be $1500. What a coincidence. Turns out the thing was only worth about $800.
That experience has stuck with me all these years. It’s impact, prevented me from asking clients about their budget. I would spend an hour on the phone with a client before I found out they would be better served looking on Craigs list for help or down loading a free WordPress template. Nobody wants to waste that time, least of all you.
I felt that as soon as I asked the, “what is your budget” question, I became a used car salesman, trying to trick them. But the truth is, “what is your budget” is the first question in establishing a trusting relationship with your client. It puts everything on the table and allows a common ground from which you both can work. If they are up front and tell you their price range, it allows you to move the conversation in a particular direction. It helps save everyone time when you know what kind of budget you are dealing with and sets expectations. You know the saying, why try to sell them steak if they have a hamburger budget.
There are clients that will tell you, they’d rather get a quote than give their budget. That’s of course fine too, but it’s tricky, because you don’t know what they want and in my experience, a client will under estimate their needs, so your pricing needs to allow for a large margin of error. It’s unsafe. The best way to determine a client’s budget is to ask them for sample sites. Sites they like. They don’t have to be related to their industry but seeing any live example of what they want is absolutely best way to deliver an accurate quote. If your client adds in a site map, even better. So this way, when putting your pricing together, you can start with, “Based on (the website examples and site map provided by client X) we can deliver blah blah for a total cost of $XXX…” Of course if they have a high budget, you’ll be the one putting together the site map!
It’s definitely ideal to get a budget upfront. Being asked for a quote without knowing, is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. And don’t even get me started on the impact that game had on me…