Should You Give the Client a "Ballpark" Price Before You Quote the Project?

The phone rings. It's a prospective client and he wants to discuss a possible B2B copywriting project with you. You're excited. Then, as the conversation progresses, the inevitable topic of price comes up. He wants to know approximately how much you're going to charge for the work.

How do you reply?

At this point, most copywriters would say, "Let me get some project details and I'll get back to you with a quotation."

That might sound like a reasonable way to proceed, but it actually lowers your chances of winning the work. What you should do instead is give the client a ballpark price right away. Then submit a formal quotation or proposal later on to nail down the exact price.

Why ballpark your project price during that first conversation?

First of all, it allows you to deal with price issues right away.

Say you don't talk about price on the initial call, but instead work out a formal quotation and send it a day or two later. If the client has an issue with the price, he may choose not to talk to you about it – preferring, instead, to go with the next B2B copywriter on his shortlist. You've lost the opportunity.

However, if you ballpark your fee while you have the client on the phone, you have a chance to deal with any price objections that may be standing in the way of you getting the work.

Recently, I was discussing a website writing project with a prospective client. He didn't ask about price, but I volunteered a ballpark figure anyway.

And I'm sure glad I did!

I discovered that his budget was already set in stone and was about $1,000 less than my estimated fee.

Fortunately, we were able to work out a compromise and I got the job. But that might not have happened if I presented him with a formal proposal a day or two later featuring a price he could not afford.

Ballparking your price also saves you a lot of time and energy.

What if a prospective client is cheap and not willing to pay professional rates for professional work? Wouldn't you rather find that out right away instead of wasting an hour or two (or even longer) preparing and submitting a formal proposal?

Finally, when you quote a ballpark price, some clients will be satisfied and give you the go-ahead right away.

I've had many projects where I quoted a ballpark price and the client said, "Yes, that sounds fine. When can we get started?" After that, the formal quotation I send later on is just that: a formality. The project is already mine!

How do you come up with a ballpark figure when discussing a potential project with a client? There are a couple of things you need to have in place.

  1. Knowledge of the rates professional B2B copywriters charge for typical projects.
  2. Your own fee schedule.

Once you have those, quoting a ballpark estimate is fairly easy. You just pick up your fee schedule and give the client your fee range for the project being discussed.

Like I said, quoting a ballpark price dramatically increases your chances of landing the job. So, if you haven't already, get your fee schedule together so you can take advantage of this strategy.

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Published: March 15, 2011

2 Responses to “Should You Give the Client a "Ballpark" Price Before You Quote the Project?”

  1. I always ballpark, just to make sure the client and I are on the same page, before we get into specifics. It's also a way of ensuring trust -- the client likes it when you're honest and up front about your rates right away, preventing them from thinking you're sizing them up and charging them according to the size of their wallet, rather than the true cost of what the work is to you.

    Good post.

    Guest (Alastaire Allday)

  2. This post is quite old so not sure if anyone will see this in 2017.

    I have a question though---

    I gave a ballpark number that ended up not being in the ballpark at all when I wrote the proposal. I under quoted by 3-4x.

    What do I do to gracefully get through this situation?

    Guest (Kat)

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