Freelancing Negotiation: Start with No

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Society looks at No as a dirty word. It is construed as negative and not in the spirit of getting of getting things done. Get this – No isn’t the dirty word. It isn’t the killer of deals, or the destroyer of business. There is a different word which is entirely more stifling than No.

This word is Maybe .

Maybe is the boon of any salesperson or freelancer. Maybe lacks commitment and sets no boundaries for further discussion. You don’t know where you are with Maybe. If you hear Maybe, then where do you go from there?

The word Yes is also negative when used in the context of a negotiation. If you hear Yes, without hearing No first, how far do you think your client would have gone? If you haven’t established first what your client won’t accept, you could have missed out on extra revenue.

No, therefore, is the most positive word you can hear in a negotiation. When you hear No, you will have learned the boundary in which you can negotiate from.

If price is the sticking point of a deal, then in most cases your client doesn’t want your product enough. This is important as they’ve already decided that your product is a solution to their problem.

When you hear No, do you immediately jump to cutting price? Most people do.

Price isn’t the only negotiable factor. Can you do deliver the goods to the client for the price they dislike faster, or to greater volume, or with some added extras that sweeten the deal and break down your client’s objections to your price?

For example, you could offer support, or maintenance, or consulting time.

So when you’re negotiating, then my advice is to start at a high price (this is often what is known as a list price.) And then prepare to concede on something until you get to a price or other concession where No turns to Yes (not Maybe.)

If Maybe is always your answer, then chances are that there are other factors at play. Could be that your client isn’t serious about the deal. Or perhaps they don’t have the authority to shake hands with you and seal the deal. Sometimes, clients will say Myabe when they mean No Deal at all, because they are too scared to give you the bad news. They could just be wasting your time by using your price as a leverage with other providers. If Maybe is a brick-wall that you can’t climb over, and it seems an irrational response from your client, then you only have one option. Walk away . Get out of there. If they’re serious, they will ask you back.

Next time, I’ll tell you about advanced negotiation techniques, and why the ‘Win-Win’ is a foolhardy proposition! To learn when I publish this article, subscribe to my RSS feed .

Check out these similar posts:

2 thoughts on “Freelancing Negotiation: Start with No”

    1. simonstapleton

      Good question. However, I won’t answer it! I think the trick is to turn a ‘maybe’ into a No – that’s what I’ll answer. Once you establish No, you can work back to Yes, as by saying No, your client (maybe with some prompting) should be able to explain the rationale of No. The No is the boundary to work from.
      You might do this by going extreme – set a high price, or a long delivery date. Find something that the client objects to, and then once you have this, you can negotiate from there. If No turns into Maybe again, then you’ve probably satisfied all the measurable conditions except for your clients confidence, or their authority level to say yes. If you hit Maybe after a No, then there is something unspoken that is in the way.
      This is a grey area that can still be removed if you probe the political landscape of the client – maybe they’re not authorized to agree a deal? Ask them who is – this is a great opportunity in fact to ‘help’ your contact sell internally. You have the scope to become their ‘friend’ and to work with them to land your solution on the person who has the authority.
      If you go from Maybe to ‘Yes’ then there may have been scope for increased benefit to you that you won’t capture. But then, it’s too late.
      This is why I think negotiating on price first is not always the best course of action.
      It’s preferable to negotiate downwards on delivery dates, or volume, or upwards on added extras you can provide.

      Thanks for your question! Does that answer it?

Leave a Comment

Please note: if you are making a comment to contact me about advertising and placements, read the Advertisers page for instructions. I will not reply to comments about this subject.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
How Am I Doing?

Did this discussion solve your problem?

Then please share this post or leave a comment.