Your price upfront.
Detaching your price from the inputs (time, costs, energy) changes the way you're seen. Having it upfront, makes it a price and not a bill. How to get there?
Start with these 3 questions:
How is it that this project/solution you're asking for is the right one? What if you do nothing? Aren't there cheaper options? Aren't there simpler ones? Is it really an issue for you or is it just a nice-to-have?
What if you wait 6 months or a year? Can't it really wait?
Have you tried other options? Why not use cheaper ones? Why not go for something different?
Not only this will make it a real conversation, where your prospect will brain dump all his arguments to the project to see if it's in fact something worth working on or if it's a good fit. It turns the conversation into them making the case and articulating what the value proposition for the project is.
Making the case for these 3 questions brings up
the problems they want to solve
makes them realize if it's even a real one
gain altitude on what's their future desired state and
what would the value of the project be.
This is what creates the value proposition. Are you two a good fit and does it make sense to work together? You're not pitching anymore. Remember: If they say it, they believe it. if you say it, you're just trying to convince.
Finally, build and present price options. It'll make them compare you to you —how they can use your skills, what value you help create at different stages of commitment, how far your involvement can be— instead of comparing you to others.