Ways to uncover clients budgets

Ways to uncover clients budgets

As a design agency every time we meet a prospective new client one of the most challenging things is the conversation that surrounds uncovering the client’s budget. We have figured out some ways to uncover clients budgets.

How many times have you submitted a proposal and then never heard from that prospective client? Or learned that the project was awarded to someone else because your price was too high?

You get frustrated wasting valuable time writing proposals that you never win. A solution is to learn how to recognise the possible prospect from the other competing agencies before you agree to send a proposal. That means you have to find out what the client’s budget is. So you ask the client if they have a budget for this work.

And the most common answer to this question is “No, not really.”

Now the prospective client may not have a firm figure in their minds, but I bet you they’ve nearly always got some rough idea of what they want to spend. Usually they may not want to share this with you because their fear is that you might have been willing to help them with their project for a lot less than the figure they have in mind.

So the client isn’t willing to share their budget, and you aren’t willing to take a rough guess at what it will cost to resolve the client’s challenge. You’re at a standstill. What can you do?

Discovering a client’s budget isn’t that difficult; it just requires some persistence and creativity. It’s one business skill you can learn if you want to save yourself time and, more important, frustration and time.

You need to learn to talk more and write less, and agree on a cost verbally before we put it in writing.

Here are some ways to uncover clients budgets.

1. “Can you share with me in round figures?”

Instead of asking the client what their budget is, try asking them if they would mind sharing with you “in round figures” what their budget is.
This softens the statement  and will often put the client at ease, this shows that you’re talking in general terms rather than specifics.
And you can also do the same and  share with the client “in round figures” what you expect the project to cost.
That way neither of you are holding the other to fixed costs, which means you can negotiate.

2. “What don’t you want to pay?”

So you ask the prospective client “Do you have a budget in mind?”, and their reply usually is “I’ve no idea”, which you can reply “Let start around $2000.”
“Oh my no,” says the client. “I was thinking more of $1000.” If a prospective clients tells you that they have “no idea” of their budget, try offering them the highest figure for the work you would charge. They typically will share that they didn’t want to pay that much, ask them again what they have in mind. This will hopefully motivate them to share their realistic budget.

3. The bracketing technique

The clients wants an estimate from you, and sways you by saying “We won’t hold you to that figure”. But you know from past experience that if you quote a number and later on that numbers rises, the client will complain.

One way to avoid this is to use what is called ‘the bracketing technique‘.

So for example you have a rough idea of the cheapest figure you could do the project for – let’s say its $3000 – and alternately an upper figure you’d like to do the work for is $6000.

You offer to the client that, based on previous experience working with other clients who had similar challenges to them, the project will cost between $2000-$3000, or between $5000-$6000.

You are doing two things. You’re not committing to a exact figure that you can be hold against later, and you’re showing the client that you have previous experience in solving a similar challenge.

You would assume that everyone would go for the cheapest option (and some might) but many times I’ve seen a client who was reluctant to share their budget earlier in the conversation pick the more expensive options and say, “That’s great, we had budgeted $5500 for this work.”

In Summary

A conversation with any prospective client must tackle the awkward subject of money.

Many of us are uncomfortable talking about money, but the reality is that if the client does not have the budget for you to do the work, then you’re wasting your time and their’s continuing the conversation.

Using the three techniques as ways to uncover clients budgets which can help the client to share their budgets with you, and get a much better idea of whether you’ll be able to help them or not.

If you want us to help you out in person contact us here.


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