[by Blake Discher]
Photographers sometimes call me for pricing advice when they get a project that is a bit outside of their normal type of work. I’ll always ask them, “Did you ask your client what her budget is?” And they sometimes say, “I didn’t, that question never yields an answer.”
Never? I doubt it; and I ask the question every time. But it’s true, in my experience, about 80-percent of the time, the client will tell you they haven’t set one. (I’m betting they have, but they’re just not sharing at the moment!)
So here’s what I’ll do. I continue talking about my value, that is, what it is that I’ll “bring to the job” that my competitors may not. (That’s my differentiation by the way.) I ask open-ended questions, ones that end in who, what, when, where, and how. These answers get you information you need to help you determine what her budget might be.
And then, later in the conversation, I’ll ask this question: “You know, this sort of job is exactly the type of work I do all the time and I’m confident I would produce images that would be perfect for your brochure. Tell me, where do I need to be in order to work with you?”
Now your chances of getting a number from the client are much improved. Why? Because you’re further along in the conversation; your potential client is getting to know you a bit better, becoming more familiar with you and your value, and beginning to trust you more. At this point, if she wants to work with you it’s very likely she’ll tip her hand and offer you a number.
A key component of selling is relationship building. People work with people they like. Be friendly, answer questions, and offer solutions. Let the client know you’re on their team that and you are the right photographer for the job. Asking about the budget can stop you from leaving money on the “negotiating table.” There have been times when the client’s budget exceeded what I originally thought I should charge. Good luck!