One of the biggest roadblocks to selling is one we firmly put in place ourselves. Trying to determine a potential client’s budget is critical to the success of design and therefore, success of the sale itself.

Many of us are terrified to bring up money because we are uncomfortable asking for something so seemingly private. Remodeling is like selling any product. There are so many options. I once heard a designer say “Remodeling is a lot like mustard.” (I must admit I have stolen that line many times.) You can buy imported mustard, specialty mustard, Grey Poupon or just the Sam’s Club economy version.

To top it off, all those mustards come in many sizes as well. And that’s just mustard right?

Same thing with remodeling only times a thousand. With so many selections involved in remodeling, any prospect is going to understand that they have to give you some idea of where they want to land financially.

So practice asking the money question. Push through your discomfort. You can use bracketing, which can be very effective especially if the response to your question is “I have no idea what something like this is going to cost.”

Usually this just means they are afraid of sounding unrealistic. Say something like, “Do you want to keep the project around $50,000?” They will more than likely shoot out a range after that. “No, I was thinking $35,000 - $40,000 at the most.”

Conquering your own money discomfort will go far in the prequalifying process and in closing sales. For example, if someone wants $100,000 worth of work and only has $50,000 to spend you know you would just be spinning your wheels unless you can steer the prospect into scaling back.

Once you determine a realistic budget you can help the client choose selections that fit within their range. Then when you present the design and proposal, signing it should be more of a sure thing. --Kathy Shertzer is the office manager at DuKate Fine Remodeling.