What do you do when a prospective client contacts you? Do you display your enthusiasm and play all your cards at once? Or do you keep your cool and negotiate with a clear head? Clear-headed negotiation is what differentiates successful freelancers from not-so-successful ones.
1. Don’t Accept The First Offer
The negotiation game is a form of entertainment for many professionals. It’s important, therefore, not to accept the client’s first offer. You want to earn the client’s respect and establish yourself as a tough cookie by negotiating.
2. Try To Glean How Much They Can Afford
You can tell if a client can afford your rates or not. If you still don’t have an idea, just ask them to tell you their budget for the project. This will give you an idea of how much they can afford to pay you.
3. Get Them To Name A Figure First
Never mind the figure you have in your head. Just get your prospect to name theirs. Their rate could be higher than what you had in mind, so it’s always good to be silent on your side. If it’s lower than your rate, negotiate, by all means.
4. Don’t Commit Your Rates In A Blind Bid
Don’t try to figure out the figures you should charge in a blind bid without knowing full project details. Just mention your rate per word and rate per hour and indicate that those rates vary based on the situation. Ask for complete project details before you commit to a rate.
5. Object Reasonably
If the client sticks to their low rate, they could be trying to see if you’ll give up. Here’s when you object reasonably without sounding desperate or cheap. Bring up valid reasons for why you should be paid more. Is it a rushed project? Are you expected to do additional research?
6. Delay Your Response
Ask them for more information, their website URL, tentative budget and so on. Then tell them that you’ll study the whole lot and revert with a rate in a day. Your client will respond to your silence by coming closer to your quote.
7. Highlight Your Expertise and Value
Freelancers who have specific subject expertise are worth more and your client knows it. Don’t undervalue yourself by agreeing to be clubbed with the regulars. Sell yourself high for the sake of your topic expertise.
8. Show You’re Interested
Sometimes a client may think you’ve bid too high and just drop you without a by-your-leave. Let the client know that if they’re evaluating you with other providers based on rate alone, you’ll be willing to reconsider. This shows them that you’re interested in the project and would be willing to negotiate.
9. Stand Firm With Your Final Rate
Once you’ve negotiated the best value for the project, make your final bid and stand your ground. They may try to get you for less but by indicating your last and least rate, you’ll be letting them know that if they want your expertise, it cannot be for lower than that.
10. Try To Negotiate An Overall Project Fee
If it’s possible, try to quote a rate for the entire project, and not an hourly or per word rate. In this way you can squeeze in a few additional margins. Plus, if you divide the overall project rate by the number of hours you’re actually going to put in, you’ll find the rate will be higher than your regular hourly rate.
11. Try And Negotiate Payment Terms
If the client is not willing to negotiate on the price but you have to take the project, try and negotiate fair payment terms. Tell the client that since the rate is low, you’ll require some advance payment and payments upon percentile completion of project.
12. Do Deadline Negotiation If The Rate Is Not Good
Again, if the rate is not good enough for you but you want to take up the project, negotiate a relaxed deadline. Set the project on lower priority and try and get better paying work for the interim. This tactic helps you to earn money in the long run.
13. Explain Your Pricing Strategy
List out the tasks you’ll be performing for the rate you’re charging, so that the client appreciates the effort. You can even get the client to move towards your initial quote by walking them through your price break up.
14. Don’t Offer Special One-Time Deals
Your generous offer today might end up becoming your funeral. Clients will hang on to your one-time offer thinking that if you could do it once, you can do it again.
15. Let The Client Know You’re Considering Long-Term
Your prospect may be thinking about this single project but be sure to indicate you’d like to work with them long term. This might make them consider a better rate. No one likes to negotiate with a new freelancer every now and then!