Freelance is a popular way of working among young people and all groups in society. Many people have worked as freelancers for some time before being hired by companies or starting their own business. However, many novice freelancers do not have enough experience in negotiating and communicating with customers, and this makes them have bitter experiences in this field. In this article, we will point out the principles of freelance negotiation and the important points that every freelancer should know about his customers.
Three Basic Problems Freelancers
Today, one in three people in the United States is a freelancer. About 57 million of the 160 million employed are in this group. Freelancers are not only professionals in their field, they are also their business manager, doing branding, product marketing, financial management and customer negotiation for themselves. These negotiations can be challenging for independent employers; But freelancers who fail in negotiations fail to make potential profits, delay the growth of their projects and portfolios, and miss out on future job opportunities that result from a good customer relationship and referrals to acquaintances.
“During the 25 years that I have advised companies and contractors to negotiate, freelancers have been with their clients,” says Anders Lars, a negotiation consultant and instructor. Three basic problems Have had:
The first problem: Instead of building a cordial and understanding relationship, they focus on the working aspect of their relationship with their customer.
The second problem: They try to explain the difference between their work and rival colleagues in reducing the price of doing that work.
The third problem: “They waste their time on the wrong customers.”
In the following, we will talk about each of these factors.
Important points for having a principled negotiation
1. Build an intimate relationship
It is friendly and responsible relationships that guide the work. People work with people they know better. In fact, “acquaintance” is the basis and origin of trust in human relations.
It is a very important principle that you, as a freelancer, should build relationships based on trust with enough confidence at the beginning. In a large company, the decision to build a cordial relationship may be made by shareholders or company directors; But if you are a freelancer, you make your own decisions. The type of customer relationship with you depends solely on you. From the moment you start negotiating with a client until you agree with them, the success of the negotiation depends a lot on whether or not they want to work with you.
As a freelancer, when you start a negotiation, set the rules for your relationship with the customer as if they reflect the brand and value of your work. Do this by telling how you got into the job, describing your competencies and common topics to talk about.
Three steps to start a principled negotiation:
- What do you believe in? Start a friendly conversation by talking about what you crave; For example, if you are a public relations expert, you could start by saying, “For me, public relations means understanding the audience and creating a story for their business.”
- What made you enter the profession? Describe to the other person how you got here and why you are qualified to help them. Describe your skills and work experience to them. In this, do not exaggerate or be too humble.
- How do your experiences affect what you want to do today? Finally, connect the discussion with your customers and do not let the discussion end with a topic about yourself. Let them express themselves. Encourage and motivate your customers to find their work worthwhile.
By using these steps, you can make sense of what kind of customers you are dealing with; Especially in the first stage, try to be yourself. However, your history and memories should not all be related to the past. Look for the details and events of the project, the organization you are working for, or the person you are negotiating with, and talk a little bit about the present and the current project. All of this provides an opportunity to create a common ground and understanding.
Use common points
To more accurately identify the details and events of the project, as well as to find common ground, take notes of your conversations and look for common ground between yourself and the client. Be. Use these commonalities to direct conversations. Are you both interested in pets? Do you like a football team? These small deviant topics can create an intimate relationship that leads to deeper conversations; For example, talking about mental conflicts, stressors, dreams and aspirations. Look for an opportunity to make these sentences in the audience’s mind: “We are very similar. Your goals are very similar to mine. “We are pursuing a dream.”
2. Resist the temptation to discount
Building a good relationship with the customer does not necessarily guarantee a win: the terms of the agreement are important.
In a partnership, large companies may break rates and lower prices to beat competitors and take over the project. These companies can compensate for the losses caused by failures due to the scope of their work. Many freelancers also use discounts to get projects, but such an approach may reduce your income.
Suppose you set $ 50 per hour for your job. You may feel that you can reduce this number to $ 40 per hour to attract customers or win a project you are interested in doing; But it may be worth the effort, especially for freelancers who work online, as their rates are recorded in previous projects and customers can view them. By offering continuous discounts, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to increase your salary – even as your experience increases over time.
Fixed work rate
Instead of focusing on discounts, freelancers should have a fixed rate and schedule for all projects. This allows the client to know when the project will be delivered, in addition to adhering to their work rate. This will also put you in a good position to reach an agreement for your next negotiations and create a positive perspective in the customer’s mind.
On the other hand, customers are also interested in fixed rate projects, because they can have reasonable expectations based on the rate and volume of work. In fact, they are guaranteed a complete and timely delivery of a project and no longer have to worry about how long it will take you. This is especially helpful for customers who are concerned about how much review is needed for the final product; However, you also accept the risk of doing extra work.
How do we sometimes increase this fixed rate?
The last way to avoid a pay cut is to increase your base price and standard; For example, if a research project required secondary research, you can gather resources in a file and deliver them to the client as an additional part of the project. You get paid for your extra work, while the customer gets more points than they pay.
When and how should we discount?
In some cases, you will need to give a discount, whether the price is fixed or what you offer based on the number of working hours; But in order for these cases to be minimal and continuous, set your criteria in advance. Limit your discounts to specific items, such as customers who refer you to acquaintances or local customers who are coming to you for the first time.
3. Take your time Do not waste on unsuitable customers
In the process of negotiating with potential customers, loyalty to the principles of sincere communication is very tempting; But sometimes that can cost you dearly. Many freelancers are customers who spend hours and end up losing money.
When dealing with a potential customer, consider two key points about how much time you spend with them: pay and value for money. Wage is the amount of money that will be paid to you if you agree and complete the project. The higher the salary offered, the more time and energy you can spend in the negotiation phase; But the value of work is a spiritual category. This means that it depends on the amount of encouragement you receive from the client or the desire you have for the project.
Freelancers’ customer classification table
Customers on the right and top of the quadrilateral are your first priority; Regular customers who value your work and pay good money. Appreciate them and respond in a timely manner. Do not ignore them.
Hope for cooperation:
At the bottom left are customers whose only reason for retaining them is that they may find a better position in your network over time.
At the bottom right are potential customers who have attractive projects for you, but have not yet established a good relationship with you. This may be due to your work style or your failure to communicate with them. Take a look at these types of customers, but be skeptical of them and do not take their offers too seriously.
To the left and top is the most dangerous group. In this section, despite the good relationship between the freelancer and the customer, there is a difference between the customer’s needs and your capabilities. Under these circumstances, the freelancer may do things that are disproportionate to his or her ability to attract the customer, in the hope that he or she will be paid. The freelancer justifies doing those things because he feels the relationship is worthwhile. Customer promises may seem reassuring, but be aware of these types of projects. Do not get caught up in the odds and state your expectations clearly.
The last word
During the negotiation, ask questions to identify issues such as ensuring adequate funding, the number of stakeholders, and key decision makers. It is important that you decide what project to spend your time on. By creating the right communication, sticking to your work rate and spending time effectively on attracting potential customers, you can work consistently.