Keep your budget a secret

Somehow, somewhere it was decided that telling your supplier your budget is a terrible thing to do. After all, if you tell them how much you are willing to spend, they may offer you a product at that price.

Clients often fear that telling you their budget will result in you coming up with a list of services or products, with a bill that matches; YOU SHOULD! If that is the budget they have, it is your job to offer them the best solution for that budget. If they want to spend less, then they should give you a lower number, but then, that’s not their budget, and you may not offer them all that they can afford to have. Yes, we are in business and would like to turn a profit, but we also want a happy customer, and that means offering the best solution for their budget. A happy customer often leads to repeat business.

I had a potential client tell me “My manager has specifically instructed me that he wants to “compare apples to apples” and not provide a budget. We respectfully request you to give your best proposal without being swayed by our own budget.” Well this is a difficult thing to do. How do I accurately provide “your best proposal” solution without knowing if I am putting you over budget? Furthermore, how are we to compare “apples to apples” when I and my competitor are proposing different things, and at a different cost?

Let’s view this from another perspective. When you walk into a car dealership, do you wait until the dealer offers you the most expensive thing on the lot, or you tell him what you are looking for (and ask if it comes in red)? When you look to buy a house, a condo, or rent an apartment or even office space, do you wait for the agent to show you a castle? No, you give them a general price range you are looking to spend, and they show you options in that range. A smart agent will show you what you want, along with a few options both a little below and slightly above (10%) your budget, just to let you know what else you could have, or what you could cut.

When I build a proposal, I feel it’s my professional duty is to produce a proposal for my client which addresses their needs, while staying within their budget. I then add a section of “not included” items which could compliment the solution (but are not required for success) should additional funds be available. And yes, my job is to turn a profit, but doesn’t everyone like to collect a salary?


Moral of the story: A budget is for creating a list of item you can afford to purchase.