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  1. #1
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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    Giving the client a quote but not sealing the deal

    I have been talking to a client and he is interested in our services. He would like a quote but has not given a full description of the requirements. I can tell he's shopping around and I would like to get him as a client and I have a few things on my side to accomplish that.

    However, I do not want to lose him because of a quote that is outside of his budget (something he has not specified) but I don't want to lowball myself.

    Any suggestions on how to proceed?

    I would like to sell him the features he needs and a re-design of his site (it's bad).

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru El Camino's Avatar
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    You don't have a full description so can you give 2 or 3 price options based on different deliverables? That way he has range of price points and, hopefully, instead of deciding which programmer to use he gets focussed on which of your 3 offerings to choose.

  3. #3
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmann
    I have been talking to a client and he is interested in our services. He would like a quote but has not given a full description of the requirements. I can tell he's shopping around and I would like to get him as a client and I have a few things on my side to accomplish that.
    Honestly, I don't see how on earth you can quote for his needs without knowing what his needs are. Does he? Or is he just trying to figure out how you typically bill?

    If the latter, I'll usually fall back on the "usual range" argument (similar projects have tended to cost between $xxxx-$yyyy, depending on circumstances), with a whole load of caveats, starting with the fact that I'm missing salient details. If he wants a more specific number range, I'd insist on getting the full story before giving it to him.

  4. #4
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    Honestly, I don't see how on earth you can quote for his needs without knowing what his needs are. Does he? Or is he just trying to figure out how you typically bill?

    If the latter, I'll usually fall back on the "usual range" argument (similar projects have tended to cost between $xxxx-$yyyy, depending on circumstances), with a whole load of caveats, starting with the fact that I'm missing salient details. If he wants a more specific number range, I'd insist on getting the full story before giving it to him.
    Well, saying he wanted a quote was a little off. He wants more of a general figure for what it will cost for his general feature set. I think he knows what he wants but doesn't want to give us full disclosure until he knows we are the ones going to be doing the work.

    He gave us some broad requirements (basic features) but nothing specific.

  5. #5
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmann
    Well, saying he wanted a quote was a little off. He wants more of a general figure for what it will cost for his general feature set. I think he knows what he wants but doesn't want to give us full disclosure until he knows we are the ones going to be doing the work.

    He gave us some broad requirements (basic features) but nothing specific.
    (IANAWD.)

    That's usually the point where I quote high, while making it clear that I have to assume the worst case scenario; if in fact the situation turns out not to warrant that cost, the actual numbers will be lower. Then I knock it back into the prospect's court to figure out if he wants to talk more about his needs. (Myself, I just forget about it then.)

    In that kind of situation, pitching a range can be dangerous - he'll hear the low end number, reduce it even further in his head, and conclude that this is the number you really meant. Also, if he's not being forthcoming with project details, it's likely because he's shopping around for just the right flavor of buttkiss. Gotta think over whether that's a gig you really want; pitching high and making him talk you down will chase off those people.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    at this early stage just give him a rough range based on previous 'similar' projects. The last thing you want to do is spend many hours meeting, quoting, emailing and calling only to find out the guy has a budget 1/10th of what is even vaguely required.

    This morning I was called by a guy who was full of talk about his grand plans, how he wanted a combined comminuty portal/ecommerce site/live chat/forums/SEO/CMS/high end design/hosting/SMS alerts/blah blah blah/. He wanted a price, but I replied 'how long is a piece of string?. You've asked for everything under the sun, it's will cost exactly what you want to spend on it. So what's your budget?'

    '300-400'.


    Okay, I kind of guessed as much, as after a few years in this business you get a sixth sense about time wasters and dreamers, but in the end I only wasted 6 minutes on this bloke before I managed to kick him off the phone, so no biggie. But the point is, you should never even think about dedicating any serious time to anyone until you get an idea of the kind of money they are willing to spend. And if that means giving them a broad price range first, so be it - just give him a range like '4000-10,000, it really depends on the exact level of functionality and feature set. So, what kind of money were you thinking of dedicating to this project so we can look at tailoring a solution to that budget?'. As Rob says above though, don't give too low a figure at the bottom end of your range - clients fixate on that, assume you'll drop it even more and before you know it they convince themselves the project is going to cost a third of what you are about to quote them.

    I just finished reading the 'Highly Effective Marketing Plan' by Peter Knight and in it he talks about the games played by clients holding their budgets close to their chests:

    'Oh, but if I tell you my budget, you'll spend it!'

    'That's right, so tell me how much you'd like to spend.'


    Personally, I've never met a client who ever had too much budget for a project, it's always too little. Just get them to cut to the chase and save everyone some time.

  7. #7
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I agree. If they are being vague but are asking for an estimate, give them a rough, vague estimate. You can still be courteous and clear under such circumstances. For example, something like :

    "Ordinarily we'll need some additional information about your needs before we can quote you, but based on what you're telling my I'm guessing your project would cost between $xxxx and $xxxx. Of course, the price is affected by _____, _____, and _____ so we'll be able to provide a more detailed estimation once we have more information."
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    I have to agree as well - the only thing you can do is give them ballpark figures for each key area of the site.

  9. #9
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    As Rob says above though, don't give too low a figure at the bottom end of your range - clients fixate on that, assume you'll drop it even more and before you know it they convince themselves the project is going to cost a third of what you are about to quote them.
    Sometimes they don't even need a range. Some clients just hallucinate whatever they want.

    I just wrapped up an ongoing drama with a client (I told the story recently in another thread), in which the client was utterly obsessed with coming in "under budget", though they never made clear what their budget was. I work hourly, with a contract cap; I scoped the project, gave them the high range number as the cap. I then told them that if they did their bit, and everything stayed on an even keel and they made my life easy, it'd likely come out to about 85% of the cap. That's typical.

    Of course, nothing about it made my life easy. Turns out they'd lied to both me and the web designer, trying to play us against each other to get price deals. I ended up having to do most of the project research myself, despite repeated requests for background; the project manager (a third party, who turned out not to be even on contract with the client) involved herself as little as humanly possible; revision turnarounds were time-wasting nightmares. When all was said and done, we were at the end of the contract timeframe and they'd nearly hit the cap - they'd been recklessly blowing a lot of my hours over a period of months, a point I repeatedly had made clear to them. When they got the final sticker (which should not have been a surprise) they went ballistic - despite every effort by myself to tell them how much this thing was going to cost, they'd convinced themselves that somehow they could get it all done for a fraction of my estimate.

    We've been playing some games, but the check finally got out yesterday. Should be here by Monday or so. That's where a good contract (not to mention good project documentation and time accounting) comes in handy.

    These are the kind of clients/prospects who remind me of that Simpsons episode where Marge accuses Homer of only hearing what he wants to hear. Homer replies, "Yes, I would like a sandwich, thank you Marge!"

  10. #10
    A Smarter Way to Web! zivo's Avatar
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    Post More Than Money

    Where it's tempting to follow down a path of pursuing a new client, if the talk always comes back to money, then they don't see the true value of your services and expertise. That is not to say that money is not important, but if that is where conversations always go, then it's time to move on.

    mp/m

  11. #11
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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    We were able to get some more requirements from the potential client and based our estimate on those. We think the rate and the total cost for the project is fair and correct. Now we'll just have to see what he thinks.

    Thank you all for your suggestions, I'll definitely keep this thread in the back of my mind whenever I am trying to sell to a client.
    Last edited by Hartmann; Nov 6, 2006 at 16:34.


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