How to Talk Budgets With Prospective Clients

Have you ever gone to draft your proposal or SOW (scope of work) only to realize you have no idea what the budget is? Been there.

Many freelancers fess up to avoiding the budget talk on the introductory call because they fear the client won’t answer, assume the client won’t know the answer (and many times, this is true), and new freelancers may feel it’s awkward to talk about budget over the phone or in-person. But, by avoiding this question, you’re not setting yourself up for success when it comes to winning the business.

Here’s how to do it. Simply ask: What is the budget? And, then wait.

When you leave a quiet pause in the conversation, you encourage the prospect to fill it. And, who are we kidding? When we’re the ones to fill the silence, we almost always give the client an out.

If you get a wishy-washy response, or if the prospect says they don’t have a budget, don’t believe it just yet. Explain why you need to know before sending over a proposal. You could say something like:

“Having a budget helps us tailor our proposal to fit your needs. If your budget is high, we will tell you – or suggest some additional ways it can be used. If your budget is low, we will do our best to prioritize the most important elements – or suggest another freelancer who could be a better fit.”

If the prospective client still doesn’t budge, say that you will follow up with rough numbers to align expectations before drafting your full proposal. Avoid giving them a number right away on the phone, because chances are, you’ll go lower than you should. It’s human nature.

Take your time to provide prices that you are confident in and that you feel like are an equal exchange. And, always try to show them a range, as this will help the client give you more useful information about the scope.

What are your favorite tips for pricing your services?