Mastering the Ballpark Figure
Editor’s note: In August 2007, Ira kicked off his series of educational columns. This month, he focuses on Ballparking. Different than estimating, Ballparking proves your abilities and strengthens trust between you and the client.
Once you’ve developed a Performance List and you’re able to recite it back to your prospect, it’s time to start Ballparking. Ballparking is your way of immediately sharing pricing information. It’s your rough estimate for each constituent and discipline of the project.
Ballparking is not the same as estimating. It is a way for you to test your prospect’s understanding early on in the process. Companion Selling treats estimating and proposal writing differently from traditional selling approaches. The Companion Selling method uses a three-step process to determine the selling price for a project.
Step 1: Ballparking
Step 2: Honoring the Budget
Step 3: Engineering and documentation
There are several approaches to Ballparking. Pick the one that suits your personality. Compare this Performance List to a previous project:
“We worked on a bedroom surround system quite like this a few months ago. All said and done, it was about $100k and took two months to complete. Is that what you were expecting?”
Be blunt: “We’re looking at about $100k in engineering and product, and about two months for completion.”
Soft sell: “The way we’ve described this bedroom system, with all of the automation and aesthetic considerations, we’re looking at $100k or so by the time it’s completed. I figure it’ll take about two months with the custom cabinetry and shade control pacing the project.”
Stay on Your Prospect’s Side of the Line
To remain a trusted advisor, it’s imperative you share information with your prospective client as it occurs to you. You are not permitted to withhold information your client needs in order to make a good decision. You must share information immediately if it has a material effect on the project.