If a potential client is unwilling to answer the “budget” question, then you are starting from a point of distrust. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it is a red flag and an opportunity to course correct and build trust.
“If I tell you my budget is $80k, then you’ll charge me $80k."
Possibly, but it’s like doing a kitchen remodel. There’s a difference between a 10k remodel and an 80k remodel. Not all remodels are equal and the solutions crafted for each or heavily dependent on the remodel.
With potential clients it is important to get on the same page quickly and start investing in a relationship built on trust.