you should just ask them for it. Be blunt: “What's your budget or
budget range for this project?” If you have a good client they'll tell
you (and trust me, you want good clients — finding the right clients
is 90% of this business). If you have a reticent client they may say
“we don't have one yet” or “we're just looking right now” or “we want
you to tell us how much it will cost.” Truth is, everyone has a number
in their head. They have a good idea of what they can spend or they
wouldn't be shopping in public. If they don't then they shouldn't be
asking you to invest your time in writing a proposal — and you most
certainly shouldn't provide them with one.
So, how do you get the
number when they won't tell you? Try this: When they tell you they
don't have a number say, “Oh, ok. So a $100,000 solution would work for
you?” They'll quickly come back… “Oh no, probably something more
around $30K.” BINGO: That's the budget.
Try it. [SIGNAL VS. NOISE]