By , on Business Planning.

I’m willing to wager real money that you are asked “How much do you charge?” early in a selling conversation. The problem is, if you answer it you are sunk and if you avoid it then any trust you’ve established flies out the window.

Here’s why: When it comes to buying a service from a professional, most clients don’t make their final purchase decision based on price. In fact, price is often near the end of their list of criteria. Haven’t you ever bought something that was more expensive than you could comfortably afford, but knew it was just what you needed or wanted?! So why is it that even when price isn’t our #1 concern for making a final decision, we still ask early on, “So what do you charge?” Chalk it up to human nature.

Which means that until you have established exactly what your almost-client needs and is looking for, giving a price will only serve to curtail further discussion, questioning and investigation about whether your service is a match for their need. Obviously that is opposite to the response you want!

If you’re feeling caught between a rock and a hard spot, in this case caught between being courteous and being savvy, don’t worry. I am about to solve this dilemma for you with an easy, graceful answer that maintains rapport and gives you full permission to continue your discussion with your almost-client.

You simply answer the question by saying you can’t give a price yet, but can when you have more information. It might sound something like this:

“I’ll be happy to answer that question for you.
May I first find out a little bit about your situation?”

or another option is –

“I’ll be happy to give you a quote once I know what you are looking for. Would it be ok if I ask a couple of questions?”

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, almost. What happens if their response is to ask you “just for a ballpark”?

It’s a trap – don’t fall into it!

Giving a ballpark mean giving a range and giving a range means naming a number. How can you do that when you haven’t yet heard what they are looking for?!

Stick to your guns. You can answer –

“I can’t give a ball park until I know the specifics of your situation. Would you mind if I asked a couple of questions to find out about your XYZ?”


“Actually, I can tell you exactly what the fee will be for your project (or coaching or … fill in the blanks with your service) once I understand exactly what the specifics are of your situation. May I ask a couple of questions to figure that out?”

Now, I know the grammar in these examples is not text-book perfect. It’s not meant to be. Our written English is quite different from the way we speak so I’ve written them as you would say them, not to win a grammar contest.
But let’s get back to what happens if your almost-client is insistent you name a number they can hang their hat on.

Don’t do it. Yes, I know this takes a bit of courage but here is what I believe: There is no way I can give an honest answer, and honesty is a critical value for me, without first understanding their situation. I bet that honesty is a critical value for you too. So from a position of honesty, it becomes easy to stand your ground – firmly, calmly and with utmost respect.

Here is a tip – match your words and your tone of voice to their level of insistence. I remember well how a woman who owned a Medical Billing company had a Physician’s Office Manager insist she give her a quote right away. Her answer? In firm tones and with confidence she replied “I can’t give you an honest answer until I know how your office runs. Every office is unique including yours. May I ask a couple of questions to find out how your office functions?”
Use this simple strategy and you’ll never fall into the trap of giving away price information too soon again!

©Kendall SummerHawk
Kendall SummerHawk specializes in helping entrepreneurs who
love what they do but wish marketing would just “go away!”
Kendall’s unique permission marketing approach has helped
hundreds of entrepreneurs attract better paying clients with
less effort. For free marketing tools, visit