The experienced seller first fully scopes before making price commitments because changing it raises eyebrows likely losing you the sale. And why? Trust is broken.
Understand the scope of work before pricing it. The more if you are In the B2B (Business-to-Business) industry, where tip-of-the iceberg symptoms are verbalized as the iceberg problem by the potential buyer (prospect).
Take the institution (a business) that asks the consulting firm (another business) to review a document for corrections, edit and package as appropriate. Now, possibly, the consulting firm has just finished similar work and it is easy for them to dispatch a quote immediately. Huge mistake. Not feeling understood, the institution is likely to think, ‘They are just interested in money’. Even if you jumped straight in and asked, “What’s your budget?” you are still sending the same message. Greed. The experienced seller first asks to see the document in question before making any commitments, and price is a commitment. That’s why changing it, especially upwards, raises eyebrows, creates friction, and likely loses you the sale. And why? Trust is broken.
The progressive seller will first ask to see the document, “So that we can respond accordingly. Upon review of the same we shall then let you know what we can do, how long it will take and the cost. Please also let us know who the audience is.” The buyer is moved; he feels felt and is likely to send the document. Also, his response further proves the importance of understanding the scope of work before quoting. As he emails the document, the buyer adds: “The document is intended for the Ministry of Health and, hopefully, later, the entire cabinet.” Suddenly, the gravity of the job sinks in. This is not just another client; it’s a cost-free marketing opportunity for us. The client will be selling themselves and therefore, us. Who knows? Our work might end up in the public domain, and if it does, what image do we want to portray?
The quote however is still not ready for dispatch yet. Further scoping is necessary. At this point the seller can send similar samples of past jobs done asking which one looks like the desired finished product and what else would they like added. When this is agreed upon and the seller feels he has covered all the flanks, he can then respond with a write-up like this: “Based on the audience and a quick preview of the document, these are our thoughts: “We will ‘SMARTen’ the objectives and align the targets and indicators. Further, we will…”, and then end with, “Is this what you seek, or is it editorial editions with a high end publication only?”
If the buyer insists they can’t send the document but are willing to reveal the audience plus, “It’s a 64-page Word document complete with graphs, tables and pie charts in less than ten of the 64 pages,” at least you can respond giving an indicative pricing stating it can change based on the actual work. This way you have allowed trust to be maintained in case there is a change in price.