When You Forget to Talk Money

A coaching client of mine recently faced a dilemma. She had a call with a CEO who wanted her to create some content and help them with content marketing strategy.

After their chat, my client wrote up a quote and sent it. A few days later, the CEO replied that they’d found someone else who could do it for half the price. She asked my client if she could lower her quote.


Unfortunately, my coaching client forgot to talk money during that first phone call (something that’s happened to all of us). She really wanted this project because it’s in an area she’s been trying to break into.

So how could she salvage this deal?

This is the advice I gave her.

You can’t close what’s not closeable

My first tip: you can’t close an opportunity that’s not closeable.

Meaning, it’s not something you can reasonably take all the way to the goal line.

Sure, you might want it really bad. But if it’s not closeable, and you insist on closing it, you’ll almost always regret doing so.

It will be too difficult to close the deal. And if you do land the opportunity, you’ll uncover all kinds of problems once you start working.

Ask these three questions during every discovery call

Second, there are three pieces of intel that you must walk away with from every discovery call:

1)    How did they find out about you?

How did they find you? Why did they decide to reach out?

This will help you understand what it is about you that they found valuable or interesting. And if you already know that certain sources tend to yield lower-quality prospects (Google searches, for example), then knowing this upfront can be very helpful.

2)    The nature of their challenge

Do they just need a word jockey to crank out fodder . . . or are they looking for more/better expertise?

This will help you understand why their challenge is an issue and why they need to get the solution right.

3)    Budget

You have to talk money during discovery calls. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is.

The money discussion will help you understand if you’re within range. Or if you’re so far apart that you’ll need to reduce scope or put more emphasis on value.

Highlight the risks of going with the cheaper option

Sometimes (and this ended up being the case for my coaching client), you just won’t be able to make it work. If all they’re seeing or focusing on is price, they’ll always be able to find someone who can do it for less.

That’s why it’s important to understand why they contacted you and the exact nature of the challenge they face (two of the questions you must ask during your discovery call).

If you know that their challenge is best solved by a writer with your background, experience, knowledge or perspective, you can then make a case for yourself.

You can also highlight why going with someone else who doesn’t have that kind of experience or expertise is a riskier proposition.

Sure, that person may be cheaper . . . but what will it cost them if he/she gets it wrong?

If you can’t make either of these arguments, winning the deal is going to be an uphill battle.

You can try reducing the scope of work. Sometimes by offering to do less for less, you’ll be able to secure the job. But I’ve found that when prospects are only interested in the size of the invoice, reducing scope is a hard sell.

Because in their mind, they can get the whole scope of work from someone else at the same price. And they won’t be able to let that go.

Again, you can’t close what’s not closeable

I’m not saying you should automatically give up in situations like this. It’s still worth having a conversation to better understand why the prospective client is comparing apples to oranges.

But again, you need to decide how hard to try and where to draw the line.

And when it makes sense to walk away.



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