In my early days, I got really hung up on clients wanting to know about price. They would say, “we need a quote for this website project….”

I would spend the next several hours trying to arrive at a precise number.

Asking a lot of questions about the features and functionality they needed.

“How many pages do you need?”

“Do you need X function?”

“Have you put together an RFP or requirements doc?”

And so on…

Now I am much wiser and know this approach is terrible and both parties are worse off.

You Shouldn’t Seek Price as an Answer

Price is a yield, not a solution.

You arrive at a price when you have found the right solution. It is helpful to understand a general price range so you know what kind of solutions to be thinking about.

For instance, if your customer has less than $5,000 in their pocket, then suggesting you do a custom website design with a six-month post-launch marketing campaign is misguided.

I suggest walking through a couple of types of projects you’ve worked on in the past and telling your prospect what the budget was so they at least know they are in the right ballpark.

Finding Pain and Solving Pain is More Important than Price

Once you have decided they are comfortable, your objective shifts to talking about their business to find the problem areas.

You might quickly discover you can solve their immediate problems with a simple landing page and use pumped in Google AdWords traffic to start generating leads.

Which is the solution I often suggest if the prospective client is in the immediate pain of needing more business. Suggesting to a client who is close to shutting down that they should engage in a six-month web overhaul would be the wrong answer (even if that is what they call about).

Price is not pain. Price should relate to their willingness to remove the pain, not to what the customer scribbled into their yearly budget.

I recently had a custom video set built for uGurus.

I ended up paying twice what I planned, but the result was exactly what I needed. I had developed my budget based on early research; however, once I started talking to people that provided the service, it became very clear I needed to adjust my expectations, or pay more.

I was comfortable with increasing my budget because I am somewhat experienced in business. I know that forcing my business into a box when I don’t have the experience won’t yield the best results.

Your clients are in the same situation. They are not website experts. They might know what they paid for their last project (which probably failed), or perhaps what their friend paid for a site.

Your Job is to Get on Expert Footing

In order to be successful as a web professional—getting paid what you are worth and not being pinched on low-dollar projects—you need to establish your expertise with a customer.

This will trump the price conversation any day of the week.

Once your prospect has mutual respect for you, and realizes you are not trying to give them a once-over for their wallet, then this conversation can be pushed to the side until it is the right time to talk about it.

And the right time is when you have a solution to a real problem they face in their business.

When your website proposal reflects the solution to that underlying pain, a conversation around price will be welcomed.