Four days ago I presented a custom marketing strategy to a prospect.

I spent hours working on this pitch. I interviewed the founder and one of his sales guys. After I reviewed the info I got from them I came up with what I believe was a pretty solid lead generation strategy.

I worked with my wife and business partner, Lacie, to translate this strategy into a beautiful Keynote slide deck, which is what I presented four days ago.

The founder said he liked it and seemed interested but asked for the “next level of detail.” In other words, he wanted to know what our onboarding process was like, how we would track results and also wanted to see some samples of our work.

So over the weekend we spent more hours coming up with more slides that addressed all these areas. I presented that to him last night.

At the end of the Skype call he basically said the price was too high. I admit I was a little frustrated because we told him what the price would be from the start.

But even though we “told” him I realized we never really got an agreement from him that this was within his budget. He would say vague things like, “I’m willing to spend money if it’s going to work.”

But we never had a serious conversation about the price. And that was my fault.

While it was frustrating to spend so much time on one single pitch I still learned a couple important lessons:

1) Talk price early: Don’t tiptoe around the price. Have a serious conversation about it so they know this is the price and it’s not negotiable. If it’s not within their budget then it’s a waste of time for both sides.

2) Stop doing custom work: My main focus right now is building a DFY digital marketing product for financial advisors. And that needs to remain my main focus. Custom projects like this, although they pay well, are a distraction.

So just a couple real-life lessons I’m learning as I go! Now time to get back to work.