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The (surprisingly) best time to quote your fee
Friday, October 25, 2013 (All day)

Imagine this scenario…

The phone rings. It’s a prospective client, and she wants to discuss a possible project with you. You're excited. Then, as the conversation progresses, the inevitable topic of price comes up. She wants to know approximately how much you're going to charge for the work.

How do you reply? At this point, many writers would say, “Let me get some project details, and I’ll get back to you within the next couple of days with a quotation.”

That might sound like a reasonable way to proceed…but it actually lowers your chances of winning the work.

What you should do instead is give the client a ballpark price right away. Then submit a formal quotation or proposal later on to nail down specifics.

Why ballpark your price during that first conversation? First of all, it allows you to deal with price issues right away. Say you don’t talk about price on the initial call but instead work out a formal quotation and send it a day or two later. If your prospect has an issue with your fee upon receiving your proposal, she may choose not to talk to you about it – and, instead, go with another writer. You’ve lost the opportunity.

However, if you ballpark your fee while you have the prospect on the phone, you have a chance to deal with any price objections right there and then, and possibly save the deal.

This happened to me just a few days ago. I was discussing a copywriting project over the phone with a prospective client and – you guessed it – he asked about price. I gave him a ballpark estimate, and he said, “Ouch, that’s a bit higher than we were budgeting for.” We talked about it and negotiated a little, and I ultimately ended up getting that project. I highly doubt that would have happened if I’d just sent him a quote the next day.

Ballparking your price can also save you a lot of time and energy. What if your prospect can’t afford, or is not willing to pay, your professional rates? Wouldn’t you rather find that out right away, instead of wasting time preparing and submitting a formal quote?

Finally, when you quote a ballpark price, some clients will be satisfied and give you the go-ahead right there on the phone. I've had many projects where I quoted a ballpark fee and the client said, “Yes, that sounds fine. When can we get started?” After that, submitting the quotation is little more than a formality.

How do you come up with a ballpark figure so quickly, while on the phone or meeting with a prospect?

That’s easy. You simply create a fee schedule with the price ranges for projects and services you typically handle. Have that available when discussing your services with prospects. Your fee schedule doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember, you’re just quoting a rough (sometimes VERY rough) ballpark price.

So when a prospect asks about price, don’t reply with some variation of “I’ll get back to you on that.” Give him or her an idea of what your writing services are going to cost. Your chances of landing the client will go way up if you do.

Steve Slaunwhite is an award-winning copywriter and director of the Copywriting Training Center. You can reach him at www.CopywritingTrainingCenter.com. Steve will be a speaker at “Money Smarts: Negotiating & Estimating,” PWAC Toronto Chapter’s professional development seminar on Oct. 29, 2013.


- Steve Slaunwhite


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