When you're just starting out in your landscape sales career, it's easy to make the mistake of trying to gauge a client's level of commitment or scope of work as soon as you possibly can.
The need to pre-qualify every lead is very strong because you don't want to make a mistake and waste time on people who aren't going to buy your services.
We even try to ask the big questions — like "how much are you willing to spend on this project?" — which usually sends a potential client running for the hills.
And it’s easy to understand why they disappear. At one point or another, we've all come up against the type of prospect who is suspicious of why we are asking for their budget before they've told us what they need. And we've learned from these experiences that asking a client for their budget involves a lot of back and forth and careful footwork — just like a dance.
But in the real world, things cost money — even your time. And we get why you want to limit your interactions to people who value your time and insight into their landscape needs. In order to do that, you need to understand why your clients are guarding this number so closely.
So today, we're going to give you some insight into the best way to ask for a client's budget.
When Should You Ask for Their Budget?
During your busy season, when it feels like you are trudging out to site visits every day and your clients just won't give you a realistic number to work with, it may seem easier just to tackle the budget conversation on the phone to save you time and energy. In a few instances — when the client has really done their research and are ready to move on the project as soon as possible — this approach may work. On the other hand, it may backfire and result in you losing the opportunity to sell some great projects.
Your initial phone call is not the best time to ask a client for their budget — they don't want to feel like they are being ambushed or jumping through hoops to get the process started. It's really challenging to speak tactfully about numbers when you have no idea of the scope of work and have not yet established a relationship with the client.
Our advice: Save the budget conversation until the initial consultation. This is really your best opportunity to listen to your clients needs and feel out the possibilities. Once you have a list of their needs and priorities, you can gauge their answers, demonstrate that you want to help them reach their goals and discuss any fears they may have about starting the project.
What Are Your Client's Fears About Disclosing Their Budget?
Your prospects’ apprehension over sharing their budget could stem from any number of things, but in our experience, there are two main possibilities.
The first — and most probable — objection is an overall distrust in salespeople. In their minds, as soon as you know their budget, you'll inflate the project costs to meet their maximum amount — plus 10 percent — and they won’t get the features or functionality that they have researched and included on their wish list. Essentially, they are worried that you won't solve their problem and they'll be left starting the process all over again with someone else.