How to quote without knowing the budget?

almost 4 years ago from , Digital Strategist & Partner at Studio Projectie

One of our interns has recently done a survey among potential, current and former clients (about 100) in our region. 70% of them have some sort of budget in mind before they start looking to build a website or app. However pretty much 90% don't want to tell their budget before they receive a quote or proposal.

The reasons stated are mostly as follows - I'm afraid the quote will match my budget - I want the best proposal not one that is matched to my budget

In most cases they even think its rude when we asked them their budget so we stopped doing that. As you imagine this makes it difficult to come up with a quote that serves both their needs and is within budget. We might quote a Ferrari for someone who's only able to afford a Volkswagen. Not to mention quite a bit of 'free' research is often needed to come up with a realistic estimate not to mention writing the proposal.

There are ways to work around this such as looking at their own client pool or asking what the pricing model of their services is. That usually gives you a ballpark idea if they have 100 or 10 000 to spend. Other ways include telling them during our first meeting what certain services costs. 'This website and new logo might set you back 3000 - 5000. However if you don't need a custom design and use your existing brand material it could be a whole lot cheaper.' They ask for a quote for a custom design with all bells and whistles, we provide them a quote and proposal.

Weeks go by and we hear nothing, no one answers the phone. After 2 months they accidently answer. "Oh we found someone else, we only had about 300 to spend". They could've told us right away that they didn't have that much money to spend and we could've looked at other less expensive options. However they instead choose to complete waste our time (and theirs) to ask for something they know they couldn't afford when they walked into our office.

I've spoken to other agencies/creatives who pretty much run into the same issues these days.

Is DN experiencing the same and how should we handle this?


  • Fran RosaFran Rosa, almost 4 years ago

    Making proposals is the worst business. Before taking the time to make one, you should know the client's budget, or if they can afford — and want to spend — your price.

    Sometimes being affraid of asking about money is just a way to avoid a conversation that can lead to the client saying no. But it's always preferable a client saying no, that a client making you work on a proposal, and then not even responding to it.

    1 point
    • Marcel van Werkhoven, almost 4 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Overall I completely agree with you but reading up on business practices I discovered this is also a cultural thing. In my country its considered rude to discuss salaries, earnings, budgets and the likes. For some reason people consider that information 'private'. Especially those that are mostly doing business locally.

      0 points
      • Fran RosaFran Rosa, almost 4 years ago

        It's rude to talk about money or business in social gatherings, everywhere. And in some countries it's also rude to ask others about their finances or how much money they make, at informal conversations.

        But talking about money on a business meeting is essential.

        Some designers don't think they are having a business conversation, because they are asking about the cllient's needs, and try to empathise. But you are a company — even if you are a freelancer —, and you are doing business with another company. In B2B, knowing how to talk about money comfortably is necessary to create trust, IMHO.

        1 point