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It’s an unpleasant word. Just listen to the sound of it: BUDGET. The beastly “b” and the ugly “u” and the edgy “dg” followed by the terse “t.” No one likes to talk about their budget. No one likes to make a budget, keep a budget, fit something into a budget or look at their actual spending compared to their budget. Budget is a dirty word.

Dirty, but necessary. You need to know how much Ms. Jones has set aside to pay for new furniture. How much she has set aside in that imaginary bank in her mind, and how much she has stashed in the actual wallet in her purse.

Ms. Jones maynot even know her budget. She, too, thinks of it as a dirty word. She wants to buy whatever she wants, budget be damned. But welcome back to real life, where we all have to think about unpleasant things like money. How can you help her determine her budget? What kinds of questions do you ask? How does she evade this question? How do you pry… without prying?

It’s the ultimate waste of everyone’s time – yours and Ms. Jones – to make your pitch before you know her price. Start at her high end and work your way down. That’s a lot easier than selling UP, isn’t it?

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