How to negotiate with clients remotely: experience 5 years of freelancing

I am a freelancer, an individual entrepreneur, I work in a remote format, usually with several projects at once. The ability to negotiate for me is just as important as the ability to do my job well. The article will tell you how to negotiate without personal meetings and find a common language with customers.

This article will be interesting:

  • freelancers who want to learn from the experience of negotiations
  • customers who are curious to understand what is happening "on the other side."

Table of contents

Basic principles of negotiation

1. Decide on priorities.

Decide what conditions of cooperation are fundamental, and where it is permissible to concede. In negotiations, firmly defend the key points, but go to meet where it is possible. Then the client will see that you are ready to compromise, and it is easier to agree to your conditions.

2. Be attentive to the client.

Do not respond to a template, delve into the task, tell us how you can solve it, prepare a selection of case studies on the topic, etc. Do not forget about these promises and requests from the client. For example, you promise to send a brief or contract at a certain time - observe the deadline; Arrange a call - dial the number on time.

The goal of the client is to find someone who will solve his problem correctly, on time and without errors. Show that you are such a person.

3. Offer an alternative.

Do not refuse flatly, suggest an alternative.

For example, the client says: “I am not ready to make a full prepayment, let me pay 50% of the project, and 50% - after the implementation”.

You answer: “I work only on full prepayment. But you can divide it into 4 stages: you pay ¼ part of the work, I do it, we agree, then you pay for the next one, and so on. In any case, I will reserve time for the entire duration of your project. ”

4. Give in to the mind.

Making a serious concession, negotiate bonuses. The principle of “assignment for assignment” will allow you to gain an advantage that compensates for inconvenience. For example, when I am offered to work with NDA - I agree, but I increase the cost by 20-40%. Then the impossibility to place texts in a portfolio is compensated by an increase in payment. Do not yield in response to bonuses that are not related to a particular job. So, it is useless to make a discount on the current project for the promise of a large order in the future.

5. Agree before giving up.

Direct failure looks too harsh. Show that you understand the client’s position and explain why you are on your own.



Client: “Landing text is needed today, you are a specialist, make it faster”.

You: “No, this is impossible, it will be in 5 days”.

The client leaves with annoyance and confidence that you are not so professional as to work quickly or are loaded with other projects.

Client: “Landing text is needed today, you are a specialist, make it faster”.

You: “Yes, I understand that you want to run sales faster. And I'm really an expert, so I can not write the text for the day - as horrible. I need to analyze the audience, competitors, to work out the structure. It will take 5 days, but the text will work. ”

6. Argue the position.

Justify the requirements. Call a high price - show projects or case studies on the topic; talk about the long term - explain the complexity of the task; Propose a solution to the problem - prove your case. This makes it easier for the client to make an informed choice.

7. Maintain dialogue.

Start a dialogue with the client, ask questions, do not interrupt the communication first. So you show interest, in addition, the client is easier to agree to work with those who have already penetrated into the project.

8. Respect the customer and yourself.

Communicate correctly, show that customer request is important to you. Tact will smooth out the intransigence on important issues. But do not let insults, go to the individual, familiarity, dismissive attitude. Toxic customers can seriously undermine self-esteem, it is better to refuse to cooperate.

9. Speak to the client in his language.

You need to be a good psychologist and read the level of the client, so as not to tell the obvious things to those who understand them, and not to pour terms with those who do not understand the question. Clearly state what is included in your services, some clients confuse the competencies of related professionals and can expect more than you do.

10. Do not “push” your services.

Explain and tell, but do not be fooled and do not push. The client should want to buy the service consciously, and not pay the check under duress or because of a fleeting desire. It is important to the quality of cooperation, and not a one-time profit. It should be comfortable to work with the client. After the sale of the service through internal resistance, there will be no trust and mutual respect.

The main problems of interaction with customers

Problem number 1: Price and payment methods

We agree on a price

Rule number 1: Do not be afraid to call the cost and do not ask the client about it.

The store doesn't ask you how much you want to pay for the bread. In the barbershop called the price for a haircut. Why should a client decide how much your services cost? For example, most of your clients are entrepreneurs or company representatives who do not know how much to pay a copywriter, designer, accountant, coach, etc. You ask them for payment - they are lost and are afraid to tell the amount so as not to overpay. Some are beginning to look for prices on the Internet. In the case of copywriters and designers, they see stock offers of 100 rubles per bundle. Do you think they will offer more after that, even if there is a budget?

Exceptions: Agencies and companies that need employees for a permanent place are ready to tell about the budget - it is appropriate to ask such clients the level of salary or the rates accepted by the agency.

Call the rates yourself, so you save time for yourself and the client:

  1. Do not be afraid that the client will run away after hearing a large amount. Learn to justify the price - it is more profitable than lower prices in the fear of losing an order.
  2. Do not be afraid to sell cheap. Calculate a comfortable cost, then there will be no feeling that you have not paid extra.
  3. The customer first called the amount, but it does not fit? Prove that work costs more. I have repeatedly agreed on the price of 2-2.5 times higher than originally proposed.

Do not waste your energy on hopeless projects, learn to distinguish the lack of understanding of value from the lack of finance.

Rule number 2: Do not say the price in the forehead.

The high price will not scare if the customer understands what he pays for, sees the benefit. When I receive a request for price by mail, I call the rates in the first or second letter as soon as I get an idea of ​​the task. But first I give references to works on a topic or similar works, I tell you exactly what I did and what options I can offer. A question about the price is asked by phone - please send the materials by mail to assess the exact cost, then I compose a letter of reply.

Another option is to decompose the service in points.

For example, the client says: “Landing text is so expensive! For what kind of money is the text on the page? ”. You answer: “The price includes an analysis of the target audience and competitors; offer development; search for a unique sales offer; work with the benefits and analysis of the needs of your customers; development of the structure; writing text; proofreading check. ” The price already seems not so high.

Speak clearly what is included in the cost of services. Otherwise, it turns out that the client expects more and becomes disappointed - there will be a “gap of expectations” between the desired and the actual.

Rule number 3: Explain pricing.

On the market a wide range of prices. Thus, the cost of the services of a copywriter may be 5 rubles per 1,000 characters and 15,000 rubles per text. The task appears to explain how your services differ from similar ones and why they cost so much. Draw an analogy with something familiar to the client, for example, with the repair of an apartment, the price of which varies depending on the area of ​​the apartment, the quality of materials and the skill of the workers.

We negotiate a prepayment

Prepay negotiation is complicated by client distrust. A newcomer or a specialist without case studies, portfolios and other qualifications confirmations - do not count on payment in advance.

I agree on prepayment after discussing the price, usually the client has already seen my work or read the publication, so the issue is solved without any problems.

What will make it easier for the customer to make a prepayment:

1. The conclusion of the contract with the PI.

The contract confirms the obligations, you can go to the court with it. The presence of IP simplifies negotiations. The entrepreneur is liable for obligations with his property - the risks for non-performance of works under the contract for me are higher than the risks of the company when paying for services in advance.

2. Phased payment.

Work on filling the site can cost 50 000, and 100 000, and 150 000 rubles. It is difficult for the client to immediately give a large amount to a stranger. Then it is convenient to pay in stages - part of the paid, I did, approved, paid the next amount, etc.

3. Warranties.

Increase confidence. One of my guarantees is a 50% refund in case of a deadline. I have not yet had to use it, because I have learned to plan my time and I always say time with a margin in case of force majeure.

We raise prices for current customers

Working with old customers becomes unprofitable when offers appear at a higher price. This means it's time to raise prices:

  1. Warn the client about the advance in advance, at least for a month. So you do it honestly: if he does not have a budget, he will have time to find another performer. To break the cooperation is to maintain a friendly relationship.
  2. Do not ask: "What do you think about raising the price for my work?". Of course, the client is against, and is unlikely to increase the rate. Correctly put before the fact, explain why the old rates are unprofitable.
  3. Go to the end. In case of refusal - do not agree to work at the old price, otherwise your behavior will look like an unsuccessful manipulation.
  4. The easiest way to raise the price is to renew the contract. I specify in the contract a period of six months or a year, and upon renewal I discuss the rates, if the old ones have lost their relevance.

Discussing discounts

Situation number 1: The client asks for a discount, and you do not want to give it.

What do we have to do:

  1. Explain why discounts are unprofitable for you, but with an emphasis on customer benefits.
  1. Stand firm in your position. Concessions for no reason depreciate your work.
  2. Do not apologize - you can express regret, but there is nothing to apologize for. Nobody is obliged to give a discount to anyone, this is a voluntary matter.

Situation 2: You want to make a discount.

  1. We decided to throw off the price - demand a mutual concession: the extension of terms, a smaller amount of services, etc.
  2. Try to reduce the price was reasonable. I take into account points that reduce the complexity of the service. For example, if a text with the development of a structure costs 10,000 rubles, then the second in the same structure may cost 6,000 rubles. Such transparent pricing is attractive to customers.

Discounts should be beneficial not only to the client, but also to the specialist. Mindless dumping leads to the fact that the income falls, cooperation with the client becomes unprofitable, and you refuse the project. Was it worth starting work then?

Problem number 2: The boundaries of communication

Clients invading personal boundaries are a real problem. As well as professionals, creating inconvenience to customers.

Basic principles of comfortable interaction:

  1. Discuss the boundaries immediately, then later there will be no misunderstanding due to the fact that the client is late in calling or wants to see a report on the work every 15 minutes.
  2. Make a clear communication algorithm, comfortable for all parties. It is convenient for a client when he knows at what time you can call, when you answer letters, at what stage the work on the project is.
  3. Try to make compromises. The less minor inconvenience communication with you - the higher the likelihood that the client will become permanent. For example, by phone I can call only during office hours. But I make concessions and communicate where it is convenient for the client, I do not see a problem, to install a new messenger, etc.
  4. The client makes uncompromising demands for payment, format of work, degree of responsibility - do not be afraid to call the response conditions, sometimes it is better to lose the order than to agree to improper work.

The order of interaction may be different - it is important that it suits both the client and the specialist, otherwise the cooperation will end quickly.

Problem number 3: Getting information and clarifying the problem

Before starting a collaboration, you need to clarify the task as much as possible.

But clients often formulate requests superficially, or do not understand how to assign a task to a specialist:

  1. Find out what exactly the client wants, what result he expects from cooperation. Ask to fill the brief or ask the necessary questions by phone.
  2. Do not be limited to a brief. Collect additional data. Sometimes the client considers the information to be irrelevant, and therefore does not talk about it. It is important to clarify the details so as not to miss important details.
  3. Ask again if you do not understand. It is better to ask 10 extra questions than to do wrong. A good way to clarify the information: “Tell me, I correctly understood that ...”, and then formulate the task as you understood. In case of an error, the client will correct you.
  4. Remind yourself - you did not send the necessary information? Write and ask again. Hurry worth those customers with whom you already work. You just sent a brief, and the cooperation has not yet taken place? Do not often remind about yourself. It is enough to clarify once: “I sent you a brief of this kind. Tell me, is the order still relevant? If you want to postpone the deadline - let me know, I will take a new project to your place, and will book another time for you. ”
  5. Some freelancers do not like to communicate in voice. But there are customers who can not express thoughts text. With such a better talk and find out the necessary details. Write questions in advance, the answers to which you want to receive, make sure that you are given information on each item.

Explain that successful work is possible only with feedback. Speak and discuss the stages of work so that the client understands how the workflow is going on and what kind of participation is required from him.

Problem number 4: Explain your point of view

Every specialist has situations when the client does an obviously erroneous action, gives an incorrect task or incorrect advice. Here the question arises - how to convince the client.

I use this algorithm:

  1. I ask the client why he decided to do so. This question, firstly, shows respect and interest in his position, and secondly, it helps not to get into a stupid position - you can consider the client wrong only because of the lack of complete information about the project.
  2. I correctly explain to the client that he is wrong - using convincing arguments, references to cases and other proofs. Reception works well with imaginary agreement. For example, a client writes: “I want a text like a competitor’s. You agree: “You are right, competitors have a wonderful text. And then you refute: “But you have completely different advantages. How can your customers find out about them? Let's do this ... or so ... ".
  3. I offer several options to choose from - I show ways to solve the problem, I suggest choosing one of them. So the last word remains for the client.
  4. The client stands his ground - I refuse to do the project or agree, but with the indication that I disclaim responsibility for the result.

Why not just do what the client asks? In case of failure, you will be guilty, because you have poorly implemented the task and have not achieved the result.

Important nuance: customers are different. For example, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are usually poorly versed in Internet marketing and are happy to advice. Representatives of large companies simply convey a point of view, approved by management and developed by the marketing department. It’s practically useless to offer their solutions, but it’s worth explaining your position. Adequately assess the situation and find an approach to customers of different sizes.

Problem number 5: Notes to work

Completion of the project does not always mean the end of communication with the client. Sometimes he has comments on the work performed. How to minimize risks in this case:

  1. Agree on edits and support within the project in advance. Discuss what you take on and what you don't. For example, I have free all the improvements within the framework of the task, but when conditions change, I work for an additional fee. You can discuss the number of iterations by setting a specific number.
  2. Specify what does not suit the customer and why. Show the willingness to rectify the situation as soon as you understand exactly what is wrong.
  3. Do not mindlessly make corrections, just as you can not refuse to edit. Objective comments should be taken into account, and those that are capable of worsening the result should be discussed.

Разделяйте ошибки в выполнении проекта и дополнительную работу, которую пытается бесплатно получить клиент. For example, if an expert wrote a text in conversational style or poured “water”, and the client requested a concise business letter, the service was not provided, the contractor is obliged to rewrite the text or return the money. But if the client wanted a brief description of the paragraph, but then he realized that the topic was not disclosed and wanted longrid - this is additional work that needs to be paid.

Problem number 6: Conflict resolution

Conflict situations arise through the fault of the client, and the fault of the specialist. In any case, they need to be addressed with minimal consequences.

  1. Communicate politely and tactfully, do not demonstrate superiority over the client, even if you are right.
  2. Put yourself in the client's place - he paid and got the wrong result he expected. You would also be unhappy in this situation. Look at the situation impartially from the client and from your side, and then try to find a compromise.
  3. Listen to the client, show that you understand him, specify what exactly does not suit you and offer solutions to the problem.
  4. Control your emotions. The client is not an enemy, but a partner, you need to solve the problem without blaming him in return. Do not argue, do not make excuses, do not defend yourself, communicate calmly and politely.
  5. Do not be afraid to admit your guilt or mistakes. Sometimes everyone makes mistakes. In this case, it is better to remake and remain in excellent relations with the client than consider yourself an unrecognized genius and sit without work.
  6. Suppose you are 100% right and the client is not, but he does not listen to any arguments. Then it is wiser to return the payment and say goodbye.

To reduce the risks, fix all the agreements - in the contract or by e-mail. After talking on the phone, make a letter with the key points of the discussion and check with the client whether everything is correct.

When to abandon the project

Not every customer needs to negotiate. It is better not to work or cooperate with some very carefully. I distinguish several negative types:

  1. They neglect you, they think that they do favors, giving work. It is better not to waste time and refuse immediately, so as not to jeopardize your self-esteem.
  2. Tried to work with several experts and complain of all. Most likely, you will also be bad. Although it is worth looking at such a client - perhaps he is chronically unlucky.
  3. They do not want to pay, but they motivate them in the future, for example, with half the profit from the project. Of course, you will not see profit, but you will spend time.
  4. Trying to manipulate or uncompromisingly push their conditions.
  5. Immediately they promise a stable and full load - as a rule, a low price goes in pairs. A stably large amount of work with a small payment is a dubious advantage of cooperation.
  6. Expect super-results - one text will sell them for a million dollars or investing one hundred rubles in advertising will bring millions of orders. Strive to pay little, but to get the maximum.
  7. They demoralize - they require excessive attention, make incomprehensible requirements, pose dubious tasks.
  8. Devalue your work - claim that it costs 2-3-5 times less, and you just say the price from the ceiling and try to deceive them.
  9. Looking for freebies - they offer to take part in a competition or take a test, promise to pay for work later, refer to their reputation, but, as a rule, they write from a new mail and under a pseudonym, about which search engines know nothing.
  10. Sell ​​a bad product and by all means try to turn it into a "candy."

Evaluate your clients before starting work, look at how they communicate and what questions they ask. Often, it is already clear from the request text that cooperation will not take place. Refusing the project, behave correctly, no need to make a complaint to a person with whom you did not even work. Toxic customers - a big problem for beginners. My majority of requests come from "warm" clients: according to recommendations, from my pages in social networks and publications, therefore now I hardly encounter such types.

The main principles of successful interaction with clients are to put themselves more often in their place, to be attentive to each project, to fulfill their commitments, while value their time and not waste it on unpromising tasks.



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