Charging For A ‘Quote’

by Brendon on September 22, 2005

I have an interesting situation at present.
We’re in talks with a company regarding their web site marketing. One of the initial steps for us to to comprehensively review their web site using a range of tools, experience and expertise and providing detailed report with recommendations for improving the sites ‘findability’.
We generally charge for this initial report ($200 – $1,000 depending on how comprehensive it needs to be). We then move on to quote on completing the recommended changes.
And I charge for this report for a couple of reasons:
# 1: We know our stuff when it comes to search engine optimisation – we have skills, equipment, contacts, experience, etc that most others don’t. I don’t want to give away the benefit of all those and then have the client say “Nope, we’ll do it ourselves or get someone cheaper to do the actial search engine optimisation.”
The review takes anywhere from 1 to 10 hours work.
# 2: It qualifies the client a little for us – if the client isn’t prepared to pay for this comprehensive report then there is little chance they understand the importance and power of search engine optimisation.
This Latest Prospect Doesn’t Want To Pay
This latest prospect doesn’t want to pay for what he essentially sees as a quote. And it looks like being a deal breaker.
I’ve told the client if it’s an issue that we’ll deduct half of the fee from any ongoing work. But I’m not sure that will do it for him.
As sad as it is to lose a potential client I have to weigh up the long term issues – will this guy be a valuable client that we can do great work for and provide exceptional value?
Probably not. There are a few red flags for us to not take him as a client already and that’s always a good indicator.
In short, if the prospect came to me and said “I want A, B & C done. How much?” then that’s fine – no charge for the quote.
But because the prospect says “Can you tell me what I need to do to get my site in the top of the search engines?” then that’s consulting.
I’ll let you know what happens.

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