How To Negotiate Your Best Rate (Part 2) admin January 22, 2012

How To Negotiate Your Best Rate (Part 2)

5 top tips for increasing your earnings


So you’re a professional, you’re good at your job, but when it comes to talking fees, you don’t feel so comfortable. You want to increase your rate, you feel you deserve it, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it successfully. It’s a common situation.

In the last article, we saw the importance of doing your research before any rate negotiations and we saw how starting those discussions with your Maximum Plausible Position improves your chances of getting a favourable end-result.

Now we will look at three more tips that will really boost your rates that bit further.


Tip 3. Show value

Customers will pay higher rates if they see the extra value gained from doing so. Now, you may have to help them in this so be prepared to do the calculations for them. This means knowing their business and their specific figures. If you can clearly demonstrate bottom-line value, they will pay.

If you want to move into a higher league for fees, look at the super-chargers in your field and see what they do to get their rates. A lot of it is about looking the part – both literally and metaphorically. It may require investment – qualifications, website, write a book,  whatever counts as credibility in your field.

It is also about networking and being active in your field. Get to know the names, become a name yourself. Get a good Linkedin profile and be pro-active in the groups, be active on the message-boards and on Twitter, go to the conferences and events, network, get to know people in person. It’s up to you; you may turn your nose up at this kind of activity, that’s quite understandable, but it will put your rates up.

And back this up with a good case why you and not the next person. The more niche you are, the less of a commodity, the higher the fee. A great thing to do is show them a problem they haven’t thought of, that only you can solve.

Show your track record in the field, the more specific you can point to case studies delivering their exact requirement the more persuasive you will be. Better still, get other people to do the talking. If previous clients can give testimonials, that will count a lot. Best of all, demonstrate your abilities – the old adage of “show, don’t tell” has a lot of truth in it.

And build a good reputation, it is a surprisingly small world. If you do a good job or fail to deliver, if you are easy to work with or a bit of a psycho, if you arrive early or you leave early, word will get out and will inform the next negotiation. Be assured, people talk and your reputation can guarantee you work for life at top rates or it can mean you never work in town again.


Tip 4. Be creative

We are talking about fees but negotiations are never one-dimensional, there are always other factors that come into play.

For example, you might be willing to accept a lower rate if it is a longer term position, or if it is strategically interesting or if they will pay for training.  Or if the hours suit your lifestyle or enable you to do other contracts at the same time.

Alternatively, if you worked there before and you were expected to work much longer than the normal hours, you may want to charge extra. Or include penalty clauses if you often found yourself chasing up late payments.

You can always charge on value. If you can guarantee earning them a million, charge nine hundred thousand. If you are confident, give them a freebie. Then, once they’ve seen your what you do, you can charge higher rates. Alternatively, if you have a good system of metrics, charge a low basic rate, along with a high performance-related element.

Negotiation is a highly creative process; successful negotiators always look for solutions beyond the obvious.

They look for win-win solutions. The customer has a problem that you can solve, you have a problem that they can solve, work together so everyone is happy.

And always, always, be gracious in your negotiation. This is not a battle, you will want to work with them again.


Tip 5. Get help

These tips should help a lot but negotiations are complicated things and no two situations are ever the same. There is so much more to the world of negotiation than can be covered fully by just these bullet points.

Now, if you needed a heart transplant, you wouldn’t do it yourself, would you? You would go to a specialist consultant. Similarly, with negotiations, it is worthwhile getting help from an expert.

Of course, if you are a highly skilled negotiator, that is fine. But most professionals focus more on their specific field, quite rightly, than the subsidiary skills such as negotiation. They will spend years training and developing their specialist skills and knowledge, but they never receive training on negotiation and so, naturally, will not necessarily feel comfortable in such discussions.

So it can be worthwhile getting the help from someone who has spent years training in this area. And the maths can be quite simple. What are your earnings? What if an expert charges £500 for  a consultation which results in you increasing your income by 10%? It’s a no-brainer really.


So, to summarise:

  • Tip 1. Do your research
  • Tip 2. Ask high
  • Tip 3. Show value
  • Tip 4. Be creative
  • Tip 5. Get help

I hope the tips in these two articles are of help to you. Wishing you the best of luck in your negotiations.