This question comes up EVERY TIME!
It’s awkward to ask.
In some cases, it’s even more awkward to answer.
Uncomfortable for everyone involved, for sure.
But the truth is, it’s a necessary evil when dealing with customized solutions to any problem (which I’ll explain in a moment).
If you haven’t guessed it by now,
I’m talking about what can literally be The Million Dollar Question.
“What does your budget look like?”
For the asker, it’s an important question to determine what there is to work with, even if it feels like you’re asking a woman how much she weighs.
For the person being asked, it can feel like a trick question so you can charge them the maximum amount for your products or services, even if it’s a legitimate question to establish a budgetary “boundary.”
Not fun for anyone when that “dance” begins.
The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be a painful conversation.
First off, let’s dispel the myth that this is a trick question.
Think of it like this:
If you wanted to build a house and went to a builder for a design, sure they’d want to know how many rooms and such you wanted…
But they’d also want to know your budget so they knew whether to design it with cheap vinyl (at roughly 52 cents/sqft) or commission the world-renowned artisan to install the one-of-a-kind mosaic tile floor (upwards of $800/sqft).
Although those choices are at drastic ends of the spectrum, it proves an important point.
It’s an important question when there are multiple ways to solve a problem.
In this case, it’s design decisions.
And there are a LOT of choices that can be flexible with a project like building a house.
Secondly, let’s also just assume, if for no other reason than to assume the best in people, that you’re dealing with fair individuals on both sides of the table that are not trying to pull one over on the other party either.
So now let’s look at this from the BUYER’S perspective.
As the buyer, when this question comes up, you should have no fear in just laying it out.
Fair and square.
Consider that if you told the home builder that you really didn’t want to discuss the budget with them and they came back with the expensive tiles.
Overshooting the average person’s budget by a long shot.
Now they ask you “is that too expensive?”
Well, yea! Of course it is.
What a waste of time.
AND it also throws the relationship off at that point, seeing as the contractor may have had several hours into the design, pricing and sourcing, only to find out that they were off the mark.
Now consider another scenario where you told them that you have $300,000 to work with to build the home and they bring back a well-designed home with nice wood flooring that fits well within your budget with only some minor tweaks that need to be made before construction begins.
A much better solution.
Even I catch myself sometimes cringing at the question when it’s asked to me.
But I have found the results SO MUCH BETTER when I just use an honest and upfront answer.
And if you’re thinking that low-balling the answer is any better…
We’ve all tried that as well.
And that too fails in most cases when someone comes back to you with the cheap route that looks horrible and you end up “finding” the money to get something that fits your budget and looks acceptable.
Cheap is cheap and will always seem like it.
Now let’s approach this from the seller’s perspective.
Which, incidentally, may also give buyers a better perspective as well.
Yes, it’s always an awkward conversation but, as we’ve already discussed, if you don’t get the information needed to put together a solution for your potential customer, then you might as well be throwing darts with a blindfold on.
I’ve found that most people resonate with the “doable yet meaningful analogy” that I’ve shared various versions of over the years.
Basically, we like to put things into perspective by talking about the budget question in terms people can relate to.
For instance, if my challenge is to get in better shape and I go ahead and do 1 push-up and 1 sit-up every day, sure that would be “doable” but it wouldn’t be very “meaningful.”
On the other hand, if I were to do 500 push-ups and 500 sit-ups, it would absolutely be “meaningful,” but not so “doable.”
The same could be said regarding the dollars you are able to allocate toward a potential client’s marketing efforts.
Sure, they could say they only have $500 to work with and that would be “doable” but not very “meaningful” at all.
And certainly, we could put together an absolutely killer marketing program with every bell and whistle on it known to man with a price tag of $100,000 and it would get some amazingly “meaningful” results, but would hardly be “doable” for even our multi-million dollar clients.
The main objective is to find a solid starting budget to work with that is “doable AND meaningful,” knowing that things can change or be tweaked before we “break ground” on a project or campaign.
The Bottom Line.
This question has been sending shivers down the spines of buyers and sellers alike since the invention of money and will continue to do so until the end of time.
The GREAT NEWS is that it doesn’t have to be an awkward roadblock any more if both sides approach it reasonably and openly.
Momma always did say that honesty is the best policy.
And boy, was she right!
Like it or not, you will most likely run into this question (or have to ask it) at some time in the future.
I’m hoping this finds you before your next encounter with it.
If you’re in the position to ask the question, please share this with your colleagues and coworkers.
If you find yourself on the other side of the table from this question more often, and this article resonates with you, share it with your friends and family so they have a better sense of how to handle it.
And lastly, if your business is looking for a great team to tackle your marketing, schedule a strategy session with me and the DMC team and be prepared…
…we WILL ask The Million Dollar Question so we can work together to take your business profits to new heights!
Lucky for you, you’ll already know how to handle it. Wink wink.
Here’s to your Million Dollar Success!