When it comes to earning more as a freelancer, the ability to negotiate well can offer you a huge advantage. The idea of negotiation can be a frightening prospect for many freelancers, yet to earn the money you need it’s vital to hone your negotiating skills.
In this sense, you need the ninja qualities of fortitude, creativity, and shrewdness so inherent to all great business owners.
While being good at what you do is of course important, you can often earn higher rates than a more talented and skilled freelancer, simply by knowing how to better negotiate a more lucrative fee. As so often in life, it’s not always the best team or the best warrior that wins, but the one that is more confident in their worth and their abilities.
Imbue your inner ninja spirit, when next dealing with a prospective freelance client, by using these 10 effective negotiating practices.
Know your worth before negotiating anything
The ninjas of old always knew their worth. They knew their strengths and they knew their weaknesses. As such, these ninjas were in a better position to understand where they were likely to gain and where they were likely to lose out. As a freelancer you should also be intimately aware of your worth.
If you’re good at what you do and you know the services you provide are top quality, then your confidence needs to reflect this. For negotiations to work in your favor, clients need to sense you are calm and confident.
Target the right clients
An experienced ninja would know to negotiate with the right people. A client providing little in the way of money or benefits in return for his ninja services would be a waste of his time.
If you target the wrong sort of clients, then it doesn’t matter how good a negotiator you are. Business owners with little money will not be able to afford your rates, even if you have the smoothest negotiating tongue in the land. Target prospects who have the money and who also offer the type of work you excel at.
Do some reconnaissance
There’s no point employing your best negotiating skills when you have little idea what your prospective client really needs and why. To excel in price negotiation, you need to know what the business or individual is desperate to accomplish or fix. When you know these weaknesses, you can offer your freelance services as the best solution, and not at a cheap wishy-washy price.
The ninjas of ancient times would scout out their targets for days, weeks, sometimes months. They did their research and knew exactly their target’s weaknesses and pain points. You need to do the same before entering into any price discussion.
When your client feels like they have got a good deal, then you know your negotiations have been successful. This type of result can only occur when you aim high with your initial quote. The high fee can then be lowered gently through haggling until it meets what they feel is an acceptable rate.
The secret however, is that the acceptable rate is actually your standard rate, so you lose nothing. And if the client accepts the initial higher rate, which is frequently the case with larger clients, then you make gains. This is the ninja mindset where you hold your nerve and aim for what you deserve.
Give yourself room to move
When you’re trapped with little room for maneuver, you give yourself little power when it comes to negotiating your rates. One thing ninja warriors always did was to ensure they also had room to move, to fight, and to escape.
A common maneuverability mistake freelancers make is to quote an exact price based on an initial vague email query. In so doing, the inexperienced freelancer throws all negotiating power out of the window. A better alternative is to provide broad price ranges with a clear message that these are liable to change once full details of the project are revealed.
Improve their perception of you
Negotiating price from a position of strength is imperative. The prospect needs to see you are a true professional with the relevant experience, skills, and aptitude. Only the best ninja agents and mercenaries were hired by the wealthiest of clients.
As a freelancer, you need to build a strong brand, showcase your best work, have positive reviews, and give an aura of respectability and professionalism in all the marketing and sales materials the clients view. All of this improves perceptions and gives you that edge when negotiating price.
There’s nothing worse than desperation. Potential clients can smell a desperate freelancer a mile away. Desperation also forces you to take work for less pay, which renders any meaningful negotiation a mute factor.
Experienced freelancers embody the ninja mindset of detachment when it comes to potential clients. The best ninja is in demand and can turn clients away, only accepting the highest pay. When you remain emotionally detached from the negotiation process, you gain a strength and calmness that clients will sense and be drawn to.
Learn to say no
Part of separating emotion from logic when it comes to negotiation is the ability to confidently say “no”. Sometimes the only sensible resolution to a long negotiation is to refuse the project because the client cannot meet your minimum rate.
This is all about holding your nerve and standing firm. If there’s one thing clients are not accustomed to very often, it’s a freelancer turning down work, and this can occasionally work to your advantage. The client will sense strength, realize you really are what they need, and pay accordingly.
Be creative with your service offerings
Agility is a key skill in negotiating and freelancing in general. When you meet an apparent dead-end in a price negotiation, there may still be options you can take to get the work. One of these is to be creative with your service offerings.
A client might not be able to afford your main service but they can afford something smaller, which still goes a long way to fulfilling their needs. You get the job and you’re more likely to be hired for the bigger project when the client sees the smaller project’s results. Those with a ninja spirit always see the potential in any scenario.
Be patient and play the long game
Patience is a virtue, so it’s said, and it’s also a strength for freelancers, along with persistence. Negotiations can be difficult or painstakingly slow, especially when you’re dealing with a prospect you’ve only just met.
People are busy and they’re often dealing with multiple different things, especially when you’re working with businesses. Periods of silence don’t always mean you’ve lost the job. It’s important to hold your nerve and not lower your price because you don’t hear anything back within 24-48 hours.
These negotiating tips for freelancers wanting to earn more money are inspired by the wisdom of the ancient ninjas. With strength, courage, determination, and a will to find the best deal for both parties, you can quickly begin to receive the fees you deserve for your skills and experience.