Last time, I’ve written a post on the basics of a freelance contract and why you should learn how to write one. Surely, if freelancing is a game, there are rules to play. But what majority of freelancers forget is that in order to succeed, one must relearn the ancient art of negotiation, where preparation is the key to getting what you want from the project. Negotiating is perhaps the most difficult part of the process, where every word can spell the big difference between getting hired or getting fired. Are you struggling to turn the tables and get what you really want?
How Freelancers Can Negotiate With Their Potential Clients
You may have applied for a job opening and you suddenly got an interview invite, or perhaps, someone sent you a note that they would like to interview you for a freelance job. At this stage, you feel that adrenaline rush, a mix of excitement and anticipation. STOP! You need to keep your cool and learn how to negotiate your way to success. Here’s how:
Before the Interview
1. What do you really want?
Ask yourself this before you even say yes to the invitation. Are you looking for a short term deal or a long term gig? How much are you willing to sell your services for and how far are you willing to compromise, if ever the client tries to negotiate for a lower price. Many freelancers make the major mistake of devaluing their services in a hope of getting the client to say ‘yes’. You have to believe in yourself so you can ask boldly for what you’re worth.
2. What are your goals?
Will accepting the project be beneficial for your career growth in the long run? Is your rate realistic with what the market is offering? You need to do some research in your niche on your rates, as well as arm yourself with knowledge on the industry trends. One of the major goals any freelancer should keep is to stop the fear of not getting hired for the project.
During the Interview
1. Who is your client?
There are many times when clients don’t really fill in the details about the project, and this can even include their business name. If you’re lucky enough to have info on the client’s business, you can always type in a search at Google. If not, you can ask important questions that answer who your client is, what industry they are into, what are their products and services, and why they need your services in the first place. Ask all the questions you need to know for the ‘devil is in the details’.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
There’s a trick in the book where you can always start bargaining for a pay rate that’s 25% more than what you’re really charging – so it gives room for negotiation. By showing what you can do, instead of simply telling them what you have achieved, you’re one step closer to getting what you want. The key here is to show them results from your previous projects and show them the cost of hiring you – by focusing on the benefits that they will get from your services, instead of your rates.
3. Stick to Your Guns
It doesn’t take a lot of effort that you’re locked in a dead-end conversation, where the client simply says, ” I can’t afford your price right now” or any other tentative-sounding terms like “hoping, thinking, looking..” and so on. If you sense that you’re being bluffed, simply be firm with your rates. Sometimes, clients will offer you a lower rate with a promise of getting bonuses and increase. Unless it is in writing, you should not rush into anything. Here’s where you trust your gut feeling and take that chance to be flexible. If you think that accepting the project will help you grow your freelance career, you can always offer a one-time discount, or offer fewer hours of work for the rate. Keep in mind that you are not pressured to agree and you’re free to walk away from the deal.
After the Interview
1. Mind Your Manners
The conversation may not always end up to your favor, but you still have to be polite and simply thank them for their time. You can even ask to get connected via social networking sites like LinkedIn or Twitter. Just because they can’t afford your services now doesn’t mean they can’t in the future.
2. Don’t Take It Personal
Sometimes, the problem is not you… so you need to keep your rainbow of positivity shining and simply move on. By taking notes on your recent negotiation, you can get some pointers for your next haggling session.
As freelancers, we always hear this timeworn advice that we should charge what our time is worth… But is it really wise to do so? I think we should charge base on the value of what we really do and what value it will give our clients. In the end, successful negotiation is all about careful listening, acknowledging your prospects’ needs and making them see your side of the argument – without them knowing that you’re winning.
Do you think that there’s such a thing as a ‘perfect deal’ when it comes to negotiating with clients? Share your thoughts!