Photo by Barry Schwartz
Negotiating, if you are an entrepreneur, creative or not, is more than just the early part of landing a contract. If you’re in business for yourself, you’re negotiating all the time.
Proposals and contracts represent all that you offer in ways that might not seem obvious. What you say, where you say it, and how you say it makes all the difference between a document that remains a proposal and one that turns into a contract.
What potential clients want to hear is that your job is to take care of them before you take care of yourself. Honestly, isn’t that nice? Who wouldn’t want to work with that person? So if a proposal makes you sound more like the client’s partner and less like a sub-contractor, well, anyone would rather hang around a partner than a contractor.
If, on the other hand, if your proposal is filled to the brim with restrictions, warnings, threats of legal action, and rigid, non-negotiable requirements for payment; 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.
On the other hand.
You could take all those threats and warnings that live 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.
You could make your “deliverables” clear and understandable, such as how many of whatever it is you’re getting hired to produce you’re going to provide. Let them know what it takes for you to get the job done, and that you’re thinking ahead. That you know better than they do – or as well as they do – what it takes to make them happy.
Design your proposals to be easy on the eye (you are an artist of some sort, 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.