Like paid x3 for the same work?
Have you spoken to anyone else?' is IMO quite a reasonable question and one I find most people are happy to answer.
That works, I don't think anybody would decline to answer this.
...do you know who your actual competitors are, and how much they charge?
I know them, but I have no idea what they charge. In recent years there has been a influx on web designers selling very cheap websites, no more than 100 EUR, and on the other hand I've seen people sell websites for 4 - 5 thousands, depending. There is no way to know precisely what they charge and for what, unless you see their prices online or pose as a potential yourself (which I'd rather not do). Somebody could sell a template, whereas somebody else would go through a tailored wire-frame - website design. Clients always seem to stay so focus on the price, that they miss the big picture on what they are getting.
Do they have a budget?
I've only asked the question twice and on both occasions this was declined to be answered. A rough indication on the price is what they expect me to give. They have been unwilling to give an indication of how much they want to spend, as they somehow feel I would simply quote what they suggested.
Based on everything they've told you so far, are they sounding like a nightmare, a sure thing, or a decent possibility?
Nightmares are common in web design. There is so much ambiguity and so many variables in what we do that in the end, if you don't follow a fixed structure with some kind of rule sets you'd end up with a nightmare. I want to refine my structure so that I don't have any issues. I won't deny it, I have had my fair share of nightmare clients, but business needs to be a two-way thing. We have to keep our clients happy whilst keeping our business profitable. There are times when potentials will almost use money (candy) in a form of bribery to get more work for the same candy. There are so many things that could happen, but from experience, money talks, but few would walk the walk even if their pockets are filled with sweets!
On another note, possible clients normally agree instantly or within two days. So far I kind of lost interest on chasing those 2 clients, mainly because they were unwilling to give me an answer, and kept asking me to call back. As you probably know, the situation locally is not the best economically, with this in mind I would feel that time wasters would be on the rise.
The questionnaire was suggested by a friend, and worked great when used! I understand you saying potentials won't have time to fill it in, however, the value of time is relative to it's timekeeper. Sometimes making out we have lots of time devalues ourselves, and thus people would always like to go to somebody who have no time for them, strangely enough (maybe I should take up a part-time job somewhere :P)
BTW, remember this shouldn't just be a barrage of probing questions like some concocted sales script - try to just have a pleasant chat with them and incorporate the questions in the natural flow of the conversation. Takes practice.
I think you're right. I need to incorporate this in my natural flow of conversation, which kind of sucks at the moment. When I talk business it happens to be 80% business, 20% personal, if that makes sense. It's worse when you know them personally. Thanks for your advice however, this would nail that issue I had with them.
It's always good to meet people which might need us later. An excellent way to meet somebody is to give something for nothing and in turn they will know you exist. It's much more affective than online advertising. I am trying this out now, which is working great!
In terms of chasing up deadbeat clients, well, I am thinking on whether I should focus on them. After all, I know that working is beneficial in our career, but wasting time on somebody who will or will not, is not something that I can justify as being a good value of time.