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April 10, 2018 By Jen Mathews

5 Tips for Negotiating like A Boss

April 10, 2018

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

April 10, 2018

5 Tips for Negotiating like A Boss

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

As a freelancer or solopreneur, are you wearing almost all the hats in your business? You’re probably brilliant at the things you love to do, but freeze when it comes to areas outside your core comfort zone. Say sales and marketing yourself to customers.

Sales is one of those beasts that people either love or hate, and entrepreneurs often fail at selling themselves well. In a Freshbooks survey of 1,700 self-employed professionals and small-business owners, two-thirds said they needed to find new clients. Yet about a third of those people said they disliked selling so much, they put off this task for as long as possible.

Selling comes down to the art of negotiation, which can be perfected. And perfect it you must — in today’s economy, success depends on being more strategic about your work.

Here are some reasons to become a better negotiator:

  • Business development: Even the busiest of companies wants to find new clients. You never know when a big client’s budget dries up or a long-term project becomes low priority for the client.
  • Better value proposition: In the same Freshbooks survey, 26 percent of respondents said they lost a project because the client perceived the rates as too high. Can you avoid this by better explaining your value beyond the specific deliverables?
  • Working smarter: If you’re spending all your hours on client projects and have little time left for your business, it probably means it’s time to raise your rates. This opens the door to higher-quality projects and better-paying clients. A rate increase is an uncomfortable conversation with existing customers but negotiating well will leave both you and the customer feeling good about it.

Ready to negotiate for your next gig? Here are strategies to help you get a better deal.

1. Determine your value.

The cost is not necessarily the main reason a company doesn’t hire you. Before you discuss a project, know exactly what you bring to the table besides putting in all the hours to deliver something.

Consider everything that puts you at the top of your field and differentiates you from others, and negotiate from a position of power. Think of everything from your years of experience, big-name clients, extra education and certifications, to additional benefits you bring, like strategic thinking and consulting.

2. Craft a compelling argument.

Knowing your value is only the first step. Next is to convey to clients why they’re buying a lot more than just your time.

Advertising mogul David Ogilvy famously said that because more people read the headline than the body copy, writing the headline costs 80 cents out of every dollar. Describing your value is a little bit like that — you need a punchy, concise and compelling argument that will convince the client to keep negotiating with you.

3. Do your homework.

Before you talk to a prospect, learn as much as you can about the company and the industry’s challenges as they pertain to your service. This achieves two things:

  • You can think ahead of the pain points you could solve — and address them in your first meeting.
  • You demonstrate that onboarding you will be easy because you already know a lot about the organization.

4. Stay flexible.

Negotiating is not always about getting the highest dollar for your work. If the client’s budget is lower than you like, think of what other “perks” the project may have for you.

Perhaps it’s a well-known brand that will look good in your portfolio, or a project that helps you expand your services. Maybe it’s a new industry you want to break into, or the client can offer you referrals or attribution.

5. Revise the deliverables.

Another way to work within a low budget is by countering the deliverables. A client may agree to fewer revisions, less research, shorter word count, smaller design package, etc. — or do some of the work in-house to minimize your hours. Consider all alternatives before you part ways or accept a fee that’s less than ideal.

For the client, hiring you is about improving the bottom line. It’s up to you to negotiate your terms so that the bottom line is looking good for the client’s business — and yours!

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