The Art of Negotiation (Part 1 of 2)

Forget every racial stereotype you’ve ever heard. Everyone on the planet loves to haggle. Everyone loves to try and get a deal. Some may be more aggressive than others (and again, this has nothing to do with race), but in general, everyone will try to get something from you for cheaper than what it’s offered.

Make no mistake my friends, this is going to happen to you.  It is unavoidable, so you should be prepared for it. Unfortunately, cutting people a deal will cut into your PIE, and that is definitely a bad thing, so here are some tips you can use to mitigate that as much as possible.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short: We’ve touched on this before in a prior blog post, but it’s definitely relevant here too. Your time is precious, and so is your work. So if someone is trying to get you to provide your products or services at a lower rate, keep this in mind.  Have a number in your head that is the bare minimum that you’re willing to accept. If your prospective client still finds this too high, forget them. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Aim High: This is quite possibly the oldest trick in the book. When you’re forced to negotiate with someone over your fees, always, always start with a number higher than what you’re actually willing to charge. This way as negotiations continue, with a bit of luck you’ll end up at a number far closer to what you actually wanted to charge in the first place (and if you’re really lucky, a bit higher). Stand fast on this. Your prospective client will almost certainly try and lowball you. Keep your counter-offers on the high side, and gradually work your way down. As I said, once you hit that magic number that you’re not willing to go any lower than, walk away. There are plenty of other possible clients out there, and I guarantee you some of them will be far more willing to accept what you’re asking without question.

Be Prepared To Walk Away: As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, there are going to be times where a client is just completely unreasonable and unwilling to accept a reasonable offer. In this case, it is probably best to walk away. If they really want your services, they’ll come back, and be far more willing to accept what you’re offering. And if not, well, that’s their loss.

That being said, a good friend once said “some money is better than no money”, and if you’re in a position where accepting work at a lower rate is something you absolutely have to do, don’t be afraid to do so. Just don’t make a habit of it. People talk, word spreads, and the next thing you know everyone and their mother is trying to get the same rate out of you. This is a really, really bad thing. Some money may be better than no money, but some money may not be enough to cover your expenses or pay your bills, and that’s just no good at all.  Save this tactic only for when it’s absolutely necessary, and make sure you impress upon the client that you are doing this strictly as a one-off deal for them. Make them feel like you’re doing something very special, just for them, and that future work will be done at your normal rate. This will leave them happy, and hopefully create a little repeat business. Just, as I said, don’t make a habit of it.

Negotiation is a very tricky business, and a skill that takes time and practice to learn, regardless of what side of the coin you’re on. With that said, stay tuned for a later blog post in which I’ll give you tips on negotiating from the other side, to hopefully try and snag yourself a better deal, and give your Personal Independent Earnings a little bit of a boost.

Until then my friends, good luck.