Talking about the budget can be a terrifying thing for most professional service providers. The problem is if you never had the conversation, you will always be flying blind making it difficult to provide the prospect with what they need. If you are like most service providers, there are often more than one ways to skin a cat. Their problems could be solved with a small budget, but the downside to the cheaper solution is that it could take more time and internal resources to accomplish. Until I can understand the prospect’s needs, wants, dominant buying motive, timeline and budget, I really can offer a complete proposal.
I find the budget discussion tends to go better when I have identified the key problems they are trying to solve or business opportunity they are trying to accomplish. A budget discussion after the discovery of what needs to be fixed or attained makes sense in a logical flow with the prospect. Two questions that work well:
1. What are you willing to invest in pursuing this opportunity?
2. Have you set a budget for solving this problem?
Give the prospect time to answer this. When they finish speaking, I often count to five in my head. This extra silence often gets them to talk even more. The next thing I do is to ask a simple question which is how did you come up with that number. This is a great question because it causes the prospect to explain their thought process for the budget. Many people will admit that they just guess at what the solution will cost or talk about some of the research or people they have talked to.
If the budget is really low, I can now discuss why that might not be enough to get the project accomplished. If the budget is in the correct range, we can move on to discussing solutions.
No matter what the budget discussion has to happen. If a prospect doesn’t want to discuss the budget, I will ask why? I will also explain why the budget is not about extracting every last dollar they have out of their wallet but is about helping them find the best available solution for their investment.
Avoiding complicated discussion on a budget sometimes will lower you to a close percentage because you ultimately will be creating proposals for unqualified prospects who just don’t have the financial capability to work with you.