The speaker was Jack Molisani, Project Officer in the USAF, President, ProSpring Technical Staffing, author of Be the Captain of Your Career, and Executive Director of the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management.
Mr. Molisani delivered an enthusiastic and interactive two-hour presentation. The pace of the meeting was brisk and energetic. Attendees were rewarded for participation.
Go for a Win-Win agreement with the art of negotiation.
Maintain the negotiation process until you reach terms that are agreeable to both parties. Negotiation enables you to:
- Determine your compensation. Get the best value possible for your services.
- Clarify project scope. Avoid over extending your personal resources.
- Establish and agree upon deadlines for project milestones and completed deliverable(s). Good project management leads to successful relationships.
- Know your resources. Have clarity about availability of tools, facilities and team members.
- Get a headcount of the team and know each person’s function.
- Verify budgets to allow more realistic decision making.
First build rapport.
Before discussing numbers:
- Find out what is important to your client and let them know what is important to you.
- Recognize if there’s a problem that needs a solution so that you can address it.
- Try to come to an agreement where both of you win.
Before negotiating, do your homework.
Work out your plan to stay on course in the heat of negotiations.
- Know the market rate for buying or selling your product or service.
- Set your success criteria: what’s great, what’s acceptable, and when to walk away.
- Plan to defend your numbers with hard data such as:
- project plans
- historical data
- usability testing
If possible, let the other side make the opening offer.
This is your first insight about their idea of a fair price. It also let’s you know whether or not the deal is worth pursuing.
- If you must make the opening offer, add a qualifier in case you need to backpedal. Say, “my normal rate is $xx/hr.” and observe their reaction. If they react negatively, respond that you are flexible given that this is a long term contract, or given the state of the economy, etc.
- Ask, “what bill rate did you have in mind?”
- Don’t entertain way too low a price in exchange for the other party’s future promises.
When the other party objects to your numbers.
If you can show exactly how you came up with your numbers the negotiation will swing away from your fee rate to the project’s scope. At that point you can try to modify the scope so the fee offered becomes more agreeable to both parties.
Defend your numbers with hard data. Using project plans, prototypes, historical data, and usability testing, show how you:
- Added value to your company
- Saved your company money
- Made your company money
- Increased customer satisfaction
Just as important as negotiating skills, are listening skills.
Productive negotiations depend on accurate listening. You cannot address the client’s concerns unless you know what they are. Listen more than talk. Once you find out what is important to the other side, respond accordingly.
The client may ask for something that is simply unacceptable.
If you are unable to negotiate with them to change, one option is for you to walk away. Knowing when to walk away should be determined in your homework before the interview.
ProSpring Staffing specializes in engineering and content professionals (content strategists, technical writers, content engineers, etc.).
The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Tech Comm Management