I remember when I first started my career as a freelancer. I had just got my degree and (I thought) I was ready to start offer my services to every single client out there. I was so exciting for starting up, that I couldn’t think about anything else.
I remember that day when I received a first email from one of my clients. I can’t even describe how happy I was. (I’m sure that you all know what I’m talking about.) Yes, they required my services (finally!), but obviously there was a but. They had a tight budget.
My thoughts: “Ok, this is my first assignment; I’m going to accept it because this can lead me to more opportunities and future assignments. I’ll have the chance to negotiate rates later on once they know how I work”.
The result: My client ended up having a quality translation for a reduced rate and I never heard from him anymore (at least they paid!).
Now that I looked back at this situation, I wish I knew how to negotiate back then. I don’t want to think about how much money and how many clients I lost due to failed negotiations. And, as I don’t want that to happen to you, I have gathered some tips that I’ve been learning during my years as a freelancer. Let’s see how you can stop losing money!
Preparation is key.
Do your homework. Before any negotiation, you should know as many details of your clients as possible. The more know you, the better you’ll be prepared. Ask yourself the following question:
- What does your client want to achieve with your services?
- How many benefits is he going to gain through your services?
- How much money would he be willing to pay to achieve that?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
“Ok, I have checked the assignment, I know how many hours I will have to spend on it, and I know how much money I am going to charge for this…” And suddenly you feel that it’s too much, that your clients isn’t going to be willing to pay that amount of money and that he is just going to walk away.
This irrational feeling can make us lower our prices even when we know that we’re offering a fair price. My piece of advice here is to be honest to your client. If you think that your client is not going to be able to understand your prices, show him a breakdown of how you came up with that price. Explain to him how you’re going to work on the project, the hours and resources that you need to use, and justify the prices proposed.
Sometimes we assumed that our clients have to know everything about our business, but it’s not the case. Some clients can just walk away because they don’t understand our prices and think that they can find something cheaper.
A good technique is to start a proposal pricing a bit higher than you expect. In this case, if your client thinks it’s too expensive, you can lower your prices a bit to meet the ones you consider that are fair.
Don’t push things.
Negotiation is a process that takes time. Both your client and you need time to think about each other proposals. Pushing things only make you seem desperate to close a deal.
One of the most important tips here is not to rush but to set a date for a response by both parties. If you client tells you that he needs to think about it, you following move could be: “Ok, no worries, I understand that you need time to consider my proposal. Can you please let me know when you’ll be able to give me an answer?”
This way, you are setting a deadline, your client will be forced to actually think about it, and the uncertainty of waiting for a yes or no will disappear.
Listen to your client.
Sometimes we make the mistake of not listening to the needs of our clients. We are too focused on our own proposal and forget what our clients are asking for.
It’s important to address these needs as this could be the difference between an acceptance or a rejection.
Highlight the benefits.
What will your client gain by using your services? You have to present your services in a way that it would be hard for your client to reject the offer.
List all the benefits that your client will gain by using your services. That way your client will think that it would be a stupidity to reject all the benefits that you’re offering.
And this will lead us to…
Focus on your client’s side.
Most of the time we’re obsessed thinking about why we should accept the offer. However, and this is one of the most important tips, you should ask yourself this question:
Why do they need to make a deal with me?
If you give something away, make sure that you get something in return.
In my case, this is a technique that I tend to use quite a lot. For example, if my clients think that my prices are too high, depending on each case, I could be willing to offer a discount, only if they are willing to extend the deadline.
This way, they will pay less and I will be able to accept any other assignment that can come up while I’m still working on this one. Win-win solution.
Have a plan B ready.
You never know how it’s going to go. That’s why you should have a plan B, just in case. If you don’t have a plan B, you’ll probably end up accepting anything that’s on the table. With a plan B, you’ll have more option and you won’t be afraid of walk away if your client doesn’t want to negotiate or be reasonable.
Always look for the win-win solution.
Negotiating is not about winning or losing, it about finding the best solution for both parties, and that the approach that you should take during the whole process.
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