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Guest Post: How to (not) negotiate a better rate

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Today’s post comes from b2b copywriter and marketing consultant Joan Damico, who’s graciously taken some time from her own blog to talk to us here about your time—specifically, how to get the most for it.

Now, about your rates…

Oh no, here it comes… the haggle! Or at least that’s what you thought was going to happen, when much to your amazement, the prospect said, “Let’s do it.”– no haggling — no questioning.

So why is it that you’re surprised when a prospect accepts your freelance rate? Could it be that you’re so used to haggling over your rate that you’ve come to expect it? Or perhaps you’re a freelancer who’s now reached the point in your business that you can afford to turn away unprofitable business. But yet, you still maintain the “starving freelancer” mentality that something is better than nothing. So even if it’s less than your normal rate, at least it pays the bills so you’d better take the assignment.

It’s a strange phenomenon, but somehow a prospect whom you don’t expect will accept your rate all of a sudden does. Why? Here’s my observation as a 7-year freelance veteran about seasoned freelance pros.  They’re confident and unashamed of their rates. They simply say your project will cost $X.00.  And then they don’t say another word.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not a sarcastic, Here’s my rate—take it or leave it. But a confident Here’s my rate. Perhaps that was the real skill that I learned a number of years ago at a course on “negotiation.”  The instructor said, “Give them your price and then shut up." Why?  The instructor answered, “Because he who talks first, loses.”

Part of that confidence comes from experience and knowing that you’ve covered all your bases. A price that appears to come from off the top of your head could appear questionable to a prospect. Also if the prospect doesn’t have a clue as to the value of your services, then that could be a source for questioning. And a proposal that lacks professionalism is cause for questioning—don’t put a number on a napkin over lunch and expect it will be accepted without question. And let’s face it, some prospects are like dogs… they sense fear and move in on it.

As long as you know that your rates are in line with a freelancer of your skill and experience level and your proposal spells out the value that you’re providing, give your rates and then shut up. You might be surprised at what happens.

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