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No matter what they say, they do have a budget

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Last week I interviewed Kit Hinrichs, who spent the last 23 years as a partner at Pentagram and has worked on projects for Muzak, Sappi Fine Paper, Gymboree, Hemispheres Magazine, and Design Within Reach, to name only a few. Last week he was pretty busy launching his own firm, Studio Hinrichs, but he graciously took time out of his first week to chat with me about how creatives deal (and don't deal) with money. (BTW, one of his success strategies is to say "yes" to as many opportunities as he possibly can.)

There were some real nuggets in our conversation, which will go directly into my next book-in-progress, but here's one I just had to share right away. It's about those clients who say they don't have a budget.

We’ve all had those clients so we know what happens: you give them a budget and they say, "On no, that’s outside my budget."

Aha! They did have a budget after all! Okay, maybe they didn't know it until you gave them your price. But I really think that if you probe a bit, you can get the info you need to determine whether continuing the conversation is a waste of your time and theirs.  (This was the topic of last week's CFC webcast; the recording is available here

But what to say? How to probe without offending them?

Kit sometimes says, “Look, we can dance around each other about this, but we’re trying to find the best way to spend your money effectively. So if we know what budget you have in mind, we can find solutions for you that are within your budget.”

This is going directly into a chapter of the book I think I'll call, "What to say when…" What do you think of this (could you use it with your own clients?) and what else would you like to see in that chapter? Post your suggestions here.

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