Negotiating is a Full-Time Job
[by Barry Schwartz]
If you’re in business for yourself, you’re negotiating even when you only appear to be pushing paper around.
For instance: proposals and contracts. You have a potential client with whom you have discussed – at length – all the particulars of a job.
As you write the proposal, what you say, where you say it, and how you say it might make all the difference between a document that remains a proposal and one that turns into a contract.
If you sound like the most important part of your job is to take care of your client before yourself, well, honestly, isn’t that nice? Who wouldn’t want to work with that person?
If the proposal sounds more like you’re the client’s partner and less like a sub-contractor, well, anyone would rather hang around a partner than a contractor.
On the other hand, if the first page of your proposal is filled to the brim with restrictions, warnings, and threats of legal action; and if the client is on the fence about giving you the job; and if the client has had a bad day; and if the client is looking for an out because they think their life is hard enough already, well, that client might read that bleak document representing all your work, hopes, and dreams for a decent payday and throw it away.
There are several ways to help avoid this potentiality.
You could take all those threats and warnings on the first page and put them on the second page in your Terms & Conditions.
You could make the language on the first page sound like ordinary English, indicating to the client you don’t spend all your time with a lawyer whispering in your ear. At least on the first page.
You can make your “deliverables” clear and understandable (see above), such as how many images you’re providing, what kind of file, resolution, and color-space; when they might expect to see selects; what the charges are for post-production, assistants, and so on. Let them know what it takes to get the job done.
You can design your proposals to be easy on the eye (you are a professional visual artist, after all).
Proposals and contracts are a representation of who you are as a professional and a creative and they’re a sales tool. So grab your keyboard and start negotiating.