You know that they are going to ask for your price right there on the phone, but you don’t even want to guess at a price until you’ve learned much more about the job.
Then Bingo! The prospect casually mentions that they are looking for an inexpensive solution.
Just as casually ask the prospect what kind of solutions they have already found, and you’ll hear “Oh, we found one form that would download the data for us at about $500 per shot”.
Especially if you are broke and need the rent money, you are going to grab this project. It is more work than $500, to be sure, but you can explain now or later that as a first-time client you have an introductory offer.
In my case I figured that the prospect wasn’t all that happy with the data source, since $500 seems like a pretty good deal to me, so that my selling point was me; the price had to be around $500, not $2,000, but as long as I kept my nose clean, I’d get the business.
We chatted a bit more, I made notes and said I would issue a questionnaire. Within an hour the questionnaire was back.
It was a piece of cake to put together a proposal for $550 based on the prospects hand-written answers to my questionnaire, print off a copy, and break for lunch.
Fifteen minutes later I proof-read the proposal and email it off.
Now I wait
I have been able to satisfy myself that I can do the job, and the $550 will be more welcome than the $0 that was in the pipeline first thing this morning.
I took Dean Rieck’s advice and sprinkled some candy on top of the proposal.
In this case pricing was easy. I pretty well matched the outside offer (that probably didn’t even get to the proposal stage) and added all my personal touches (lifetime support, extra runs for a small fee, and so on).
And I didn’t get asked what I would charge either.