Ep 104

Negotiation Expert’s Secrets to Dealing with Tough Clients

with Kwame Christian
Watch this episode: https://youtu.be/GeFXTYUcVuE

About this episode

Kwame Christian is an expert in negotiation. He is the Founder and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute, host of the world’s most popular negotiation podcast and author of two best-selling books. He is also a contributor at Forbes, and his TEDx Talk, Finding Confidence in Conflict, was one of the most popular TED Talks in 2017.
In this episode, Kwame shares his negotiation secrets to better discuss rates/budgets with your clients, how to adopt an abundance mindset and setting expectations with clients with better communication.
We also share a Q&A with Kwame from a call with our Motion Hatch students in Balanced Business Bootcamp.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to negotiate with your clients
  • How to raise prices without losing clients
  • Common negotiation mistakes and how to avoid them
  • How to be confident in saying ‘no’
  • Maintaining client relationships through the negotiation process
  • Negotiating expectations, not just transactions.
  • Techniques for negotiating with stubborn individuals
  • The role of likeability and leverage in negotiations



[00:00:00] Kwame: A worse outcome than no deal is a deal that never should have happened. And so once you start to absorb that mentality, you start to say, Hey, if I, if I get this deal, that’s good. If I don’t, thank goodness, because I shouldn’t have had it in the first place. So there’s going to be that little feeling where you’re like, Hmm, I should say something.

[00:00:17] Hayley: Hmm.

[00:00:18] Kwame: And I don’t like that rate. And whenever we get that little, that little feeling that something needs to be said, start to develop the habit of saying something. So here’s a simple rule to follow. When it comes to who makes the first offer, it’s all about information. For the people who are listening, the time to start that sales process is now.

[00:00:33] Hayley: That’s Kwame Christian. He is the CEO and founder of the American Negotiation Institute and the host of the number one negotiation podcast, Negotiate Anything. Kwame’s career took off after he did a popular TEDx talk and wrote a best selling book called Finding Confidence in Conflict. In this episode, you’re going to learn how to get your client’s budget.

[00:00:55] Kwame: I have something you want. You want my number and you have something I want. I want your budget. And so in that situation, you’re not giving me the budget. That’s cool. Well, I’m not giving you my number. That’s great. I want to see how serious you are.

[00:01:07] Hayley: How to have more of an abundance mindset so that you can combat the feeling of desperation for work.

[00:01:13] Kwame: I still think back to some of those deals earlier on in my career where I’m like, man, I’m desperate. I need this money. I know it’s a bad deal, but I’m going to take this offer. It felt like a. Breath of fresh air when I signed the contract and then for the entirety of the delivery of that. I hated myself.

[00:01:29] Hayley: How to feel more prepared and confident when going into a negotiation.

[00:01:32] Kwame: One of the things that I would encourage everybody to do is lead the dance when it comes to the process.

[00:01:38] Hayley: And also how to raise your prices without losing clients.

[00:01:43] Kwame: First of all, we have to come to terms with the fact that it’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation.

And I think if we sit there trying to wait until it becomes comfortable, then it’s just never going to happen.

[00:01:51] Hayley: So I just want to hit you with a question straight off the bat. So I’m curious to know what common mistakes people make when they’re negotiating with their clients.

[00:02:01] Kwame: The biggest mistake is that people don’t negotiate.

That’s the biggest mistake. We, we, our fear holds us back and we don’t have the conversations that we know we need to have. So first we have to develop that habit of engagement. So there’s going to be that little feeling where you’re like,

[00:02:19] Hayley: I

[00:02:19] Kwame: should say something.

[00:02:20] Hayley: And

[00:02:21] Kwame: I don’t like that rate. I don’t like the way that they’re going.

They’re thinking of this in a different direction. And whenever we get that little, that little feeling that something needs to be said, start to develop the habit of saying something. That’s number one. And that’s where most people fail. Like, they just don’t make the request. And when you think about the, like, the thing that leads to the breakdown of all relationships, business or personal, it’s the violation of expectations.

Most people say communication, but they, and that’s a part of it, but a lot of times we don’t communicate about the expectations that we have, right? So if the client has a certain perspective on the way that the project should go, but you have a different perspective, but you never address the differing perspectives, then you could perform perfectly.

And they could still be dissatisfied just because it differs from what they expected, right? So a lot of times when we think about negotiation, we think about it purely transactionally, talking about money and things like that. But the definition that I have for negotiation is anytime you’re in a conversation and somebody in the conversation wants something, that’s a negotiation.

So you’re negotiating all the time. So as entrepreneurs, we have to negotiate. Not just the money, but we have to negotiate those expectations. We have to negotiate about time. We have to negotiate about the way that we’re going to work together. All of these things are negotiable. And so I think it requires a complete paradigm shift to look at negotiation differently and then start to develop that habit of engaging when the time is right.

[00:03:49] Hayley: Yeah, that’s really interesting because it makes me think about when we’re providing a contract. So the client, right. And we’re kind of setting up those expectations upfront and things like that. And I know a lot of the audience really struggles even to do that, but obviously the benefit of having a contract is that you’re setting out those expectations and what you are expecting from the client, what they’re expecting from you upfront and things like that.

So I think that’s really good and not really where I was expecting this initial conversation to start. So I think that’s, yeah, that’s fascinating. And I think, um, It definitely turns the negotiation topic a little bit around and on its head. It’s almost like the whole process from when we start to engage with a client and we talk to them about money and stuff like that.

But then all the way to the end, you’re saying that potentially. At each stage of that, you’re always sort of negotiating with the client.

[00:04:43] Kwame: Bingo. That’s right. The, the negotiation never ends. From the moment you interact with the person, that’s when the negotiation begins. And again, we have to get rid of this transactional mentality because we think about Transactionally, it’s me versus you.

No, that’s, that’s not what it is at all. It’s just about people interacting with people, but putting that lens of negotiation helps us to be more intentional. Because when I think about the goals of negotiation, I think about three different things. Get more of what we want, avoid things that we don’t want and build the relationship.

So we’re thinking offensively, defensively, and relationally. The thing is, We always usually just think about offense. How can I get what I want and they want something else. And when they get more, that means I get less. So this is a fight. And the big problem is that we conflate conflict with combat where conflict is an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to grow. It’s an opportunity to solve problems. The opportunities abound. But combat on the other side, that’s an altercation. Where the goal is to inflict mutual damage, where even if you succeed, you’re going to take damage along the way, and that mentality holds us back.

But if we think about what it is that we want to get out of this interaction, and then we also are mindful of what they want to get out of the interaction, and we want to figure out how we can minimize the bad things, like miscommunications, and underpayment, whatever it happens to be. All while making sure throughout the engagement, we are mindful of the relationship and finding opportunities to improve the relationship completely changes the way that you interact with people.

So it requires a paradigm shift and it requires a mentality that helps you to realize like the negotiation never ends. You’re just constantly trying to figure out a way to advance your position, and that doesn’t mean at other people’s expense, and that doesn’t mean we’re thinking transactionally. It’s like, oh, cool, I’m having a little check in with my client.

What can I do in this conversation to make them feel safer, make them trust me more, have them feel a little bit better about this engagement? That’s part of the negotiation too.

[00:06:39] Hayley: Yeah, I think as motion designers, We always feel like when we’re first turning up to that conversation, you know, we kind of feel like we’re on the back foot, because we essentially want something from the client.

So, what would you say to motion designers who feel like that? Who feel like, okay, you know, I want this client to hire me. I want to get the most money possible. Because what you’re talking about is sort of coming from it from a point of view is making it mutually beneficial, which is what it should be.

But it’s hard to not feel like, oh, I have the back foot in this conversation in this initial negotiation, because I want something from this client.

[00:07:21] Kwame: Yep. So two words that come to mind. Number one, likeability, and number two, leverage. So, likeability, pretty straightforward. I like you. We don’t need to define that.

But with leverage, leverage is a tool that allows you to get more from other people while not having to give up something else. So I can get concessions from you without having to make concessions. So when you go into this conversation with a feeling of need, it has a negative impact on likability and leverage.

So Haley, think about times where you were in interacting with somebody who was trying to sell you something and they were acting really needy. I need this. I need this. Haley, you should try this. You should like, do you like that person? No, you can, you can feel it. They don’t look at you as like, as a human being.

They look at you as, as an object where we can, we can gather something from. Right. And then with leverage, one of the worst things you can feel in a negotiation is the feeling of need, right? So the person who needs the deal the most loses, because if I know you need the deal, then I know I can sit here.

And just tell you, do better with your offer, do better with your offer. Are you going to give me anything? No, I don’t need to because you need this more than me. And so people can feel that. And so what we have to do is we again, have to change our mindset. This isn’t me trying to get business from somebody else.

Negotiation isn’t the art of deal making. It’s the art of deal discovery. Our goal is to go into this conversation. Curious with the relationship in mind, figuring out what they hope to accomplish, understanding what we hope to accomplish, and then seeing whether or not a deal can be made, and if not, no harm, no foul.

A worse outcome than no deal is a deal that never should have happened. And so once you start to absorb that mentality, you start to say, hey, if I, if I get this deal. That’s good. If I don’t, thank goodness, because I shouldn’t have had it in the first place. And so you have to have confidence in your skills during the conversation, and just confidence also in your pipeline, because you know, hey, there are other opportunities coming.

I don’t need this deal, so I don’t need to be needy while I negotiate the deal.

[00:09:28] Hayley: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s something that I talk about in one of my courses, actually, that the reason why you want to have More offers than essentially you can take on is so that you can come to the table. And like you said, you can have some leverage.

I’m really pleased that you brought that up and that you talked about that because I think it’s hard, right? It’s hard for people to come from a point of like a mindset of abundance rather than a mindset of like desperation. And like you said, you can really tell when someone feels like that, when they’re like, okay, I really need this job, you know?

It almost like. Repels people and I don’t know what what would you say if someone’s like, okay, but I actually really do need the job You know, like how can we how can we help people to generate this? Abundant mindset rather than kind of always feeling like you’re on the back foot.

[00:10:22] Kwame: That’s a tough situation That that’s the story tough situation.

No, no avoiding that. Right? And I think it’s one of those times where before the conversation, you have to do what I call the survivability test. So you say to yourself, okay, you’re having the feeling that you need this deal. So why do I feel like I need this deal? Well, I feel like I need this deal because I have this expense, this expense and this expense and I need this money.

In order to cover those expenses. So yes, I need the deal. And so then I say, okay, hypothetically, what happens if you don’t get the deal? What happens with those expenses? Well, then I’m going to be late on those payments. And then I will, I might incur a little bit of a fee. I might need to pay interest.

Okay, cool. And then what happens? Well, then I feel bad because I’m letting people down and I’m not paying my bills. Okay. And then what happens? And I keep on going through this. And then we end up realizing like, Oh, it’s kind of, it’s more like an inconvenience. I’m not going to die, you know, I’m just, I’m going to be in a position that is less desirable, but I will not perish.

I’m still in the game. And I think just going through an exercise like this helps us to realize, like, I feel like I need the deal. But I don’t really need it. I really want it. It would make my life better. It will make my life more comfortable, but I don’t need it. And so I think we have to redefine what need is.

And we have to have a little bit more confidence in our skills to say like, Hey, listen, I’ve made it to this point in my life. You know, I’m alive and I have a business. Right. And as long as that continues to be the case, being alive and having a business, you still have an opportunity, right? Because I, I still think back to some of those deals earlier on in my career where I’m like, man, I’m desperate.

I need this money. I know it’s a bad deal, but I’m going to take this offer. And the thing is that it felt like a breath of fresh air. When I signed the contract, and then for the entirety of the delivery of that, I hated myself. I’m like, why am I doing this? I, this is way undervalue. I’m working longer than I should be getting paid way less than I should be.

I feel bad and it diminished my confidence, you know, and so it, what I realized is that even letting things go, even when I hate to let it go, it is a strategic choice to for the future, because we have to remember that. Clients refer you to clients who are like them. So if you accept an underpayment, that client is going to refer you to other underpaying clients.

That’s not what you want the market to see when they look at you. And so you have to keep the big picture in mind and think longterm. It’s going to be painful in the moment. No doubt. I want to empathize with people. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ve been there, but we have to keep an eye on the longterm because Ultimately, you’re going to make that money back by setting a new baseline, a new market rate for yourself.

[00:13:11] Hayley: Yeah, I really like that. It reminds me of this thing that I think about all the time about it’s almost like having a bit of quiet confidence, you know, you don’t want to be too out there and really overly confident, but just having a little bit of quiet confidence. Sometimes I like that phrase because it makes me think of that’s how you want to come across and you want to present because you want to be confident, but not overtly, I don’t know, cocky comes to mind.

I know other people say that in the U S but we said that in the UK. And, um, I think one thing that I saw that you put in one of your guides is that you say to practice your no. And I thought that was really interesting. It’s almost, it seems counterintuitive to go into a negotiation, but practice your no.

Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

[00:14:00] Kwame: Absolutely. So let me let you into the mind of a negotiator. Not all no’s are created equally. So if we’re negotiating and I ask for something, That you are unwilling to give or uncomfortable giving and you say I maybe I ask you to lower your price 10 percent Hey, can you give me a 10 percent discount and you’re like?

No, I know I can’t do that I’m like cool in my head I’m like Yes, you can. And I will continue to push until I get that. Right. That’s how that’s how the minds of some negotiators can work. Right. And so I want to be in the negotiation. Then if I asked for the same thing, I say, Hey, Haley, can you give me a 10 percent discount?

And you’re like, unfortunately, that’s not something I can do. But I’m interested in continuing this conversation to see if we can find something that works. Ah, That’s a real barrier. And so we have to recognize that it’s not just about setting those boundaries. It’s about getting the person to believe that it is a legitimate boundary, right?

Because the, the way that you say no will have an impact on the way that other people interact with you. So the way that you comport yourself in the negotiation, it’s not just about like what you say and the impact it has on other people. It’s also recognizing that the things that you say and how you say it will change the way that they negotiate with you.

And so we have to be really mindful of how to do that. So the, the way that I like to say, no, the book reference here is the power of a positive no by William Urie. I call it the no sandwich because it’s a cuter way to think about it. And I don’t forget it. You have a no that’s sandwiched between two yeses.

So whenever you’re saying no, there’s a reason you’re saying no, there’s something you’re saying yes to. Right. So let’s say, let’s just stick with price. Price is easy. So we’re, we’re saying yes to profit margins. Like that’s what we’re saying yes to right and so we have to say a very succinct and short No, because the longer the no becomes the more vulnerabilities people can see in that no So then they it gives you more points of attack So we want to keep the no very short and then another yes And that’s a yes to the continuation of the negotiation and the continuation of the relationship So 10 percent discount You could say something like this.

Unfortunately, based on the way that the business is set up, that’s not something I’m able to give. However, I’m interested in continuing this conversation because I believe that I can help you to accomplish your goals. Considering that, what do you think about this? And I’ll ask an open ended question to refocus it.

And that’s, that’s a freestyle, you know, after I practice it a little bit more, it’ll be a little bit tighter, but you can just see like with the delivery, it’s a way that you can actually say no, that’s respectful and doesn’t turn the person as like off too much because they can say, okay, I understand. I can understand that.

And Haley wasn’t saying no, get out of my face. She’s saying, okay, that doesn’t work, but I still think we could work together.

[00:16:52] Hayley: Yeah. I really like that. that. And it also reminds me of this question that I get asked a lot. And it’s like, how do we get the client’s budget when they don’t want to give it to us?

You know, that is One of the biggest questions that we get. I wondered if you would be up for like a little bit of role play because I think it could be quite fun. Let’s go! Absolutely. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. And I’m probably going to be a terrible, a terrible client, so everyone forgive me. But, um, I thought I could play the client, right?

And you can play the designer. And I’ll try to not give you my budget, which is what I see, like, where it goes. I just thought it might be quite fun. I don’t know.

[00:17:33] Kwame: Okay. All right. So what I need from you, I need you to stop smiling. I need you to put on your angry eyes. Yes. Your eyebrows down. Look more intimidating.

I know, I’m too friendly.

[00:17:42] Hayley: I can’t

[00:17:43] Kwame: help

[00:17:44] Hayley: it. So, um, okay. So, hey Kwame. Um, I would love to work with you. I’ve seen you work. I think it’s amazing. What I really want to know is how much you would charge for a 30 second animation. So can you give me a quote on that?

[00:18:00] Kwame: So I apologize if my numbers are way off, but just roll with me.

Maybe I’m expensive. Maybe I’m cheap. I don’t even know. Okay, so let’s go. Can you give me a quote? All right. Well, I appreciate this Haley. Thank you. When we’re working with new clients There’s a bit of a process that we have to go through in order to give you a proper quote. Quote. So tell me a little bit more about what you’re hoping to accomplish with this project.

[00:18:23] Hayley: Yeah, well, we’ve got a business and we want to show, um, our product off in the best light. So it’s gonna hopefully increase awareness for this new product that we’re launching.

[00:18:35] Kwame: Okay. Good. What are the things that you want to avoid in this process?

[00:18:40] Hayley: Okay, that’s an interesting conversation that no, no one’s asked me that before.

So, um, I think that the biggest thing for me, because I’m the producer, I just want to make sure that we get it done on time, you know, so that we can make the marketing team happy and they can put it out on social media and things like that.

[00:19:00] Kwame: So you’re, you want to make sure that we can produce something that meets the quality 30 seconds in order to launch this product, but you want to make sure that we can complete this on time to keep the marketing team happy so we can get things out on social and things like that.

[00:19:15] Hayley: Yeah, that’s right. So we can essentially, you know, It’s going to make me look good to the marketing team, and that’s really what I want. I don’t know what the players would say about that, but I feel like that’s their internal driver. Sorry, I’m going a bit out of roleplay here, but

[00:19:30] Kwame: Yeah, 100%. No, that makes sense, and I want to make sure that we can make you look good.

And when you think about This project tell me just a general range. What is it that you are able to spend on this project?

[00:19:43] Hayley: Well, you know because you’re the animation expert I thought that hopefully I was I was hoping that you were gonna give me a price that I could take back to the marketing team because they’re They’ll really want to know your price so that they can work out and stuff like that.

[00:19:58] Kwame: That makes a lot of sense. And, and I can understand where you’re coming from because you want to take the price back to the marketing team to see what they can do. Um, what I’ve found is that sometimes if I give a quote at this point. People run away and they never come back. So I have a personal policy.

I don’t give the quote until I understand what’s realistic because I don’t want to run the risk of offending you in this process. So with that said, and again, I’m not going to hold you to this. What’s a realistic range?

[00:20:25] Hayley: I don’t know, really, because I’m not really sure how much a 30 second animation would cost.

So I was hoping that you would give me your price.

[00:20:35] Kwame: No, that makes sense. Well, how about we do this? Let’s do this. Let’s set up another meeting. And so you and the marketing team and me, we could all come together, we could have another conversation, and then we could talk about those numbers. Because again, at this point, I’ve seen it happen a lot of times.

Sometimes the number can be scary and then people don’t come back. But just to make sure that I can understand their concerns as well and address all of those thoroughly in real time, I think it would be best for us to set up another time to have a meeting. So how about we do this? Let’s look up our calendars, see what could work potentially with both of us, and then we’ll work up.

So let’s pause for a second. So we have to remember the dynamics of leverage here. Right? So I have something you want. You want my number and you have something I want. I want your budget, right? And so in that situation, you’re not giving me the budget. That’s cool. Well, I’m not giving you my number. That’s great.

I want to see how serious you are because if you’re just coming around like shopping around for prices, like that’s not what how I want to spend my time. And so if, if your methodology is to get the budget, like that’s how you can get it out. There’s another school of thought that would say, well, and I think both have value.

I’ve heard people be very successful in sales doing both seeing what their budget is and then responding to that, um, and also setting, leading the dance with the price. And I think earlier on in your career, as you’re trying to figure out what is a realistic market rate for you, getting their budget. And starting to approximate through iterative, like an iterative process.

That is a really strong way to do it at the very beginning. But then as we get a little bit more mature in our approach, then we can say, yeah, I’m really confident in the market and my understanding of what the market offers and where I stand in the market. So then I would confidently say this. So here’s a simple rule to follow.

When it comes to who makes the first offer, it’s all about information. If I know as much as the other side or more, then I’m going to make the first offer really confidently because there’s a psychological advantage to leading the dance and making the first offer. But if I don’t feel really confident in what’s realistic, then I would wait to see their offer, either in the form of, them making a concrete offer or getting an idea of what their budgetary range is.

And if I choose to do the latter portion, then I’m going to get their range and then I’m going to figure out a way to substantiate getting to the highest point of that range.

[00:23:00] Hayley: So what do you think about you providing them with a range? Because I think like sometimes that’s what I’ve told people, maybe they could try to kind of throw out like a big range, like, Oh, this could cost Something between X and X.

And I guess like, that’s what you’re hoping the client will do. But to kind of, I guess, because the issue is, right, is if we’re doing this dance so much, it’s like, what you want to do really is get to the pricing part of it as quickly as possible. Because potentially, if you find out that they don’t have enough budget to pay you what you want to be paid, you want to get away from that deal as quickly as possible, right?

So, I think that sometimes that could be beneficial to do that, to throw out like a high price. Because then it will either scare them away, Or they might say, Oh, Oh, actually we were thinking more like this.

[00:23:53] Kwame: Like a range. Yeah, that could work too. And I think one of the things we have to remember too is that there are different methodologies that could work in different scenarios too.

And I think each of the examples that you gave could be, could be viable. We just need to make sure that we’re sticking to one in that moment. So saying, yeah, something like this could cost between 10, 000 and 15, 000. But in order to understand like what your price would be, I need to get more information.

Because we want to be able to make an offer that is well informed, based specifically not just on our skill set and what we bring to the table, but it’s, they feel as though it’s narrowly tailored to fit their needs. And so we need a lot of information in order to get to the point where we can make a really good offer.

And so I think we have to remember all the time, no matter which methodology you decide to use, that information is the name of the game. I need more information. In order to make a competent offer that is legitimate, but I also need information in order to substantiate that offer too, because for example, in the example that we just did, okay, 30 second commercial, but I need to do it quickly because I don’t want this to be delayed.

Okay. Well, I would continue saying, well, what is quickly because the faster you want it, the higher the price goes, you know? So we need more details in order to make sure that we can make a really

[00:25:12] Hayley: Yeah, that makes sense. That’s something that I think is like trying to find out like exactly what their problem is.

And then you can sort of almost use that. But then also I think it’s nice to think of that as like, You’re helping them to solve a problem. So then that puts you that sort of gives you the upper hand in a way.

[00:25:31] Kwame: Absolutely. And I think to one of the things that I would encourage everybody to do is lead the dance when it comes to the process, because they’re going to come into you.

And then a lot of times the, the process is kind of disorganized and the conversation is, well, what do you want to do? Well, I don’t know. What do you want to do? How much does it cost? I don’t know. What do you think? You know? And then it’s like, well, we sputtered around for 44 minutes and everybody’s upset.

You know, instead what we could do is, and this demonstrates confidence and also shows like, Hey, this is a serious person. Just, so let’s say they get a request. You get a request through your website. You have a standard email that you send. Saying, all right, hey, thank you. My name is Haley. I do XYZ, um, the next step in this process.

So they’re starting to respect the fact that you’re a professional. Yeah, the next step in this process is to schedule a meeting with me in this meeting. This is what we’ll do. I’m going to gather this information. I’m going to learn more about you. I’ll give you an opportunity to ask me any questions.

And then based on the information that you provide me with, I can give you a quote and then we can talk about next steps. Right. And so like whatever the process is that you do. You create, you want to make sure that it’s consistent, but it has a psychological impact, because people can realize, oh, this is a person who’s serious, and if I believe you’re a person who’s serious, then I’m going to respect the process and the offer a lot more.

[00:26:50] Hayley: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think it’s, you know, the problem is sometimes people don’t have any, Processes in place. So I think having those as well is going to give you less of a headache. And one thing that I’m always telling my students about as well is if something in your process isn’t working or a client’s coming back to you with lots of revisions or you, you kind of, the relationship goes a bit bad or something like that.

You think about, well, how can I implement something into my process on my system for next time? That will help me to avoid this issue. And I think that’s another really good reason to have a process apart from obviously having more confidence in your own process, having more confidence with the client, looking more professional, you know, there’s like many reasons why you should do that.

So I think that’s really great.

[00:27:39] Kwame: Absolutely. And, and for the people who are listening, the time to start that sales process is now, because we, I just, I’ll probably come back to this a few more times, but fear feeds on time. And a lot of times if we are intellectuals, if we are thinkers, our fear can masquerade as overthinking.

Oh, let me read this sales book. Oh, let me look at this research. Let me talk to my friends about it. Now we’re nine months down the road and we, we don’t have anything. We haven’t done anything. We have to remember that like every process through the iterations, it will change and it’ll become more. More custom to what it is that you need.

So just do a little bit of research, like set a timer, like a shot clock. I like to do this with my decisions. Like, okay, I’m going to research this for three days and whatever I come up with a day number three, that’s going to be the sales process I start with. And I’m going to implement it starting next week.

And then I’m going to take notes and I’m going to change, make little tweaks. every single time until I figure out what works for me. But I think that the key thing is just getting started.

[00:28:35] Hayley: After filming this podcast, I asked Kwame if he would come and chat to my students inside my course, Balanced Business Bootcamp.

They asked some fantastic questions about negotiating, so I wanted to include this here as well for your benefit. So I hope you enjoy this next section.

[00:28:51] Rasmus: My question is so i’ve been working with the same clients for quite a few years and I want to raise the question of Upping my rates with them, but I feel very uncomfortable doing it and i’m sort of backing myself into a corner Yeah, what would be the way to go about and sort of feel confident in like starting that conversation?

[00:29:11] Kwame: so Increasing pricing. That’s an awkward conversation. So first thing with, um, uh, imposter syndrome, at least in my experience, I’ve learned that it doesn’t go away. It’s I’ve just learned that this is going to be that annoying person in my car in the backseat yelling out things. And so I’ve learned to like identify that voice.

And just be very skeptical of it. The other thing is with imposter syndrome, I’ve learned to trust other people a little bit more than me in that regard. So for example, if I’m, if I want to do something, but I’m not sure if I should do it, I get a little hesitant. I have my personal board of directors, like my friends who are in the industry, my friends, my family, people who care about me.

And I say, here’s the situation. Here’s how I’m thinking about it. What do you think? And so they might be like, yeah, raise your prices. What are you doing? You should have done this months ago. You know, it’s like, okay, I will recognize that I feel uncomfortable doing it. But the people who I trust who are looking at this objectively are telling that, telling me that even though I’m feeling this way, the right decision is something else.

So I’ll trust them more than me in that situation. That’s one of the things that I do to get over imposter syndrome. Now to the question of how to raise your prices. I think it’s, first of all, we have to come to terms with the fact that it’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation. And I think if we sit there trying to wait until it becomes comfortable, then it’s just never going to happen.

Another example of fear, um, holding us back in creative ways. And so what I would do is I would start. To plant those seeds, letting them know that a price increase is coming and give legitimate reasons because it’s just basic supply and demand. It’s not like, Hey, I want to be richer. So you make me richer.

That’s not the reason it’s like the market has dictated that I raise my price. I’m too busy. I don’t have the time. And so I need to raise my price and the price increase is going to come at this time. And it’s going to look like this. And if you’d like to have a conversation about that, I’m open to having the conversation, but I just want to let you know at this time, like down the road, whenever the date happens to be, the prices increase is going to come.

And so the changes, the whole strategy, you’re not asking for permission. Can I, can I please raise my price on you? No. Oh, okay. No, we’re changing the entire approach to the conversation. We are announcing that we’ve changed our price. But since we care about the relationship, we’re going to have a conversation to make sure that we can empathize and understand where they’re coming from.

And so then they feel heard, they feel respected, they don’t feel like you’re trying to take advantage of them. And it makes that price increase a lot more palatable. And the question is, how do we handle that conversation? There is, there’s no deviation from the strategy. It’s compassionate curiosity. So, Hey, I, like I mentioned, um, on March 1st, we’re raising our prices and you’re somebody that I care about.

So I want to give you an opportunity to, to kind of share your thoughts. I want to see how you feel, you feel about that. Well, I’m frustrated about that. Okay. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re frustrated. Tell me more, right? You just flow through the conversation, but you go into the conversation knowing that, Hey, I’m going to make sure that I’m not adjusting my position.

Unless they come up with some other form of value, like maybe if they say, Hey, I can refer you to three other people. If you can keep my prices down. Oh, okay. Now you provided me with some value. I’m open to negotiating, but there has to be some kind of exchange for value. I’m not going to want one rule of negotiation is you never exchange emotion for substance.

So think about with like a toddler. If a toddler is sitting there in a in a store and has a tantrum falling over the place because they don’t want candy, you’re like, Oh, here’s the candy. You created a monster. Okay, you the last thing you want to do is give the toddler can, right? And so when somebody provide presents you with just emotion, you can’t give them what you want, what they want, because it’s just going to encourage them to keep on using that strategy because it works.

You know, so I think we just have to come to terms with the fact that it’s not going to feel comfortable. But Trusting that you do deserve it. You are worthy and then saying it confidently and then navigating the conversation with compassion and curiosity.

[00:32:58] Rasmus: That’s some great advice. The one thing that is sort of in my mind is like, I say that and then they just say no, and then I don’t know how to further engage like after that, if that happened.

[00:33:08] Kwame: Yeah, so what I would do is I would try to understand like a little bit more about what’s leading them to say no, like, is it completely out of their budget? Are their feelings hurt? Like, what is it that’s like leading them to say no, right? I would explore that. But I wouldn’t use that as an opportunity to like go back on it.

On, on the price increase. Cause the thing like, as you grow, you will lose clients. It’s just, that’s a reality. It’s unfortunate. You can still have a relationship with them. You can still be friends. And I like to provide my, my former clients with like some resources and things like that. But I know that just it is it’s not a good business decision to still provide them with my time because I have a responsibility to my staff, to my family, to continue to increase the value that I bring home, you know?

So we have to remember, and I think. I said this with you, Haley, in the podcast, um, negotiation is the art of deal discovery, not deal making. Not all deals are meant to be made and that’s okay.

[00:34:04] Mark: In your podcast with Jennifer Walton, she made a really good point. She was talking about often being seen as the expense versus the investment.

And we’re just always in that same place because so often like the work we’re doing doesn’t have a specific, like, it’s going to grow sales this much. It’s going to do this. It’s like the literal purpose of the project is to grow awareness and like, how do you quantify that? Any advice around like how to push those budgets?

Higher to produce a better quality product, but there’s not much behind it to actually back that up.

[00:34:39] Kwame: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a tough one. And so here’s what we have to remember. This is often an issue of focus because they’re focused on like the price and how to get it down. We have to remember focus is kind of like a spotlight.

If I’m focusing on this thing, I’m not focusing on that thing. And so we need to get them to focus on other things. Now here’s how not to do it. So you might say, Hey, listen. You’re focusing only on price. That’s not what you need to focus on. You need to focus on this. And so whenever you tell people like, Hey, don’t focus on that.

Focus on this. People are going to

[00:35:09] Mark: focus on it more.

[00:35:10] Kwame: It’s like, wait, wait, no, let me tell you why I need to focus on this thing. You know, that’s a problem. So just approach it just like with compassionate curiosity. I’m going to take their focus and address it like an emotion. Okay. So it sounds like, um, the, the price point is important to you, right?

Yeah, that makes sense. I understand the market is kind of tough right now and the price prices are going to be important. So once I address it and they understand that I understand them, that then they’re more willing to let that go. Then I’m going to transition to getting curious with compassion. I’m going to do this with a little bit of a different strategic goal here.

It’s not just. To get information. I’m going to ask these questions in order to change their focus. Because when I ask a question, the only way you can answer it is by shifting your attention to the topic that I’m changing it to. So I would say, so tell me again, what is it that you hope to accomplish?

Well, we want to raise awareness. Okay. Tell me what that means. Okay, good. What does it mean to you if you’re able to raise awareness to this level? Okay. Now I’m not going to hold you to a number here, but hypothetically financially, what does it mean to your company? If this is successful, what’s the return on investment.

Okay. Now what’s the risk if you get it wrong? Okay, cool. So it sounds like this project, if done right, could net you between 100, 000 and 200, 000 if we do it right, conservatively. Okay, fair enough. And so then what you’re doing is you’re creating a contrast. And so every time when I’m talking about my price, let’s say it’s 10, 000, 20, 000, whatever, that seems small in comparison to the return on investment.

And so I want to create that contrast to say, Hey, listen, we, our goal is to work with you. And like you said, if we pull this off, we can make, we can get you up to 200, 000, 200, 000. I’m going to find creative ways to keep on saying that, because the more I say that big number. The smaller my number feels to them, you know, number money is not just about like the numbers.

Money is emotional. Money has a feeling, you know, so it’s all about the contrast principle.

[00:37:03] Paul: So basically, like if a new client approaches me, they ask, Oh, hey, Paul, I really like your work. What’s your budget? And then I give them an answer and then they they’ll like disappear, you know, it just kind of.

There’s no conversation there. Is there a way to get them to open up and like talk? Cause I like, you know, I’ve tried to be negotiable in these situations, but like, they kind of just cut it off if they don’t hear something that makes them happy.

[00:37:25] Kwame: That’s it’s, it’s a tough situation. There are two ways to look at that.

Cause maybe the person’s like, Oh, wow, wow, wow. We’re not even close. And they might be saving you time, but a lot of times their, their fear can take them away from deals that are, that are workable. Because like you said, Hey, maybe that number doesn’t work, but I could still give you something of value at a different price point that works for us too.

And so we. You have to think about the way that we’re giving those numbers, because again, like I said, money is an emotional type of thing. And so you’re going to use compassionate curiosity to address those emotions, but you can’t do that if you’re not in a conversation with them. And so what I would want to do is I would want to give that proposal.

We can do it too. One of two ways. I’m going to give that number. During the conversation, knowing that I have like 30 minutes to talk to them and so I can address any concerns that they have right there in the conversation. So it makes it harder to ghost because they’re right. I’m right here. And then unless you click out of the I mean, it’s all over email.

So it’s like, it’s never no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We don’t send offers via email, and we don’t negotiate via email, you know, so it has to be a conversation. You will get ghosted all the time, all the time via email. Yeah, so when we’re thinking about the process that you create, something as simple as like, one call, two call, you determine what it is.

So in this call, I’m going to get an idea of what it is that you want, and then I’m going to give you a number, we’re going to talk about it. My preference would be two calls in this first call. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get your information. I’m going to figure out what it is that you need to accomplish and what I can do to help.

I can’t give you a number on this call because I don’t have the information and I don’t want to shoot from the hip without having the time to think about it. And so let’s set up a second call and you see the importance. You schedule the call on the call. It’s like, hey, pull up your calendar. What, what’s, what openings do you have next week?

Okay, cool. Yeah, let’s book it. I’m going to send you the invite and then I’ll give you the offer at that time. Right? Because again, it’s, it’s leverage. You, they have, you have what they want. They want the offer. I’m not just going to give it to you so you could disappear and just shop me around. No, if you want this offer, you’re going to, you’re going to follow my rules.

And I’m going to give you the offer on the second call after you’ve invested in me sunk cost fallacy. They’re less likely to go away once they’ve invested time, and then I’m going to have an opportunity to go back and forth going into that call. I’m going to know what my initial offer is and understand that.

There, there might be some movement, but I’m going to understand what I’m willing to give, how I’m willing to adjust. I’ve already thought about that beforehand, so I can flow in the moment. So that that would be the, the, the strategic shifts that I would make in that approach.

[00:39:53] John: Hey, thanks for joining us. Um, my question, uh, is about like really stubborn.

Or hardheaded people, maybe you have a client that you have built a relationship with to where they’re like, you know, you could talk to them like a normal friend would, and they’re just like not budging on something or maybe a mother in law or a kid, you know, and it’s someone who’s just not. Backing down, is it best to stop the conversation and just pick it up later?

Or is it, is there another way?

[00:40:21] Kwame: First of all, I hope everybody noticed the specificity of the examples that John gave, maybe a mother in law. I don’t know. You know, I, I caught that just FYI. So there are different ways to approach this and John, let me, let me invite you. Don’t feel obligated to do this. I just did a role play with Haley.

And so I’m, I’m feeling good. Would you want to do set a scenario? We could do a quick role play. And we can kind of see which angle to go.

[00:40:44] John: Sure.

[00:40:45] Kwame: Please be as ridiculous and aggressive as possible.

[00:40:48] John: Oh, I’d love that.

[00:40:49] Kwame: Okay, I’m in. All right. So set the stage. Who am I? Who are you? What are we talking about?

[00:40:54] John: I will be the mother in law and you will be me.

Let’s say you want me to come see you, but I don’t want to. But I don’t want to blame you and say it’s your fault.

[00:41:04] Kwame: Got it. Cool. And what’s your name? Johnita? Let’s do Joan. Joan. Joan. Cool. Joan. Hey, um, I wanted to see if you’d be interested to swing by the house sometime.

[00:41:15] John: Uh, why don’t you come see me? Are you busy?

Too busy to see me? Is that a problem?

[00:41:19] Kwame: Oh, I would love to see you. I, we have the kids and that just makes it really, really tough. For for us to get there.

[00:41:26] John: Yeah. No, I know. I’ve had kids before. I, you know, I, you married my daughter, so I’ve, I’ve had kids before. I understand how that is, but you know, it’s nice to see family.

You should, you should come. You, you left town. So I feel like you should be here with us.

[00:41:42] Kwame: Okay. So let me, let me summarize real quick. So it sounds like for you, you would prefer me to come see you. And a big part of that is because we were in the same town and then we left And correct me if I’m wrong on this part of the synopsis, it almost feels like it’s, it should be our responsibility to come visit you because we’re the people who left the city.

That’s exactly right. I mean, don’t you agree? It makes sense. I can see where you’re coming from. Correct me if I’m wrong. Again, I just want to make sure that I’m understanding exactly where you’re coming from. It sounds like you feel a little bit hurt by the fact that we left and now we’re asking you to To inconvenience yourself, to come visit us.

[00:42:22] John: Exactly. That’s exactly how I feel.

[00:42:25] Kwame: Let me, let me take a step back and talk about the goals for the relationship. You’re somebody that I care about, and I want to make sure that we have a good relationship. And I also want to make sure that we can see each other on a cadence and a schedule that works for both of us.

What would you want to see from me in order to feel comfortable to come visit me?

[00:42:43] John: Shoot. I don’t know. I mean, I feel like this is where I would just be like a reasonable person, but I feel like there’s gotta be some irres, irres, reasonable response to that. I don’t know.

[00:42:54] Kwame: So let’s pause for a second. So psychologically you tell me if this is kind of maps your experience here.

So when you were playing that role of Joan, you could probably feel a little bit of that frustration, a little bit of that pain. And then when I validated it and let you know that I saw where you’re coming from and told you that what you were, your perspective makes. sense. Even though you were trying to be upset, it was still hard for you to be upset.

For sure. Yeah. With compassionate curiosity, simple framework. So you have to take it and make it your own. There are no like scripts here for it, right? But the way it works is it’s three steps. Number one, acknowledge and validate the emotions. Number two, get curious with compassion. Number three, joint problem solving.

And then you just flow through it. If you see emotion, acknowledge and validate emotions. Once you see that emotional temperature start to go down, then you transition into getting curious with compassion, asking an open ended question with a compassionate tone, and then you work to joint problem solving where you’re working together to try to figure it out.

[00:43:51] John: Yeah, because I feel like that’s where I always get stuck is like the problem. Like you asked that question of like, where can I like, I see you, I acknowledge you instead, I see that I get into the. Fight mode and I just get her to like questioning that and acknowledging it and they’re almost putting it back and saying, okay, what can it what’s going to make this work?

That’s great. Bingo. It’s yeah,

[00:44:13] Kwame: yeah, and that’s the thing. It’s like it’s we have to develop unnatural responses to these situations. Like when you’re getting attacked from your mother and by your mother in law, the natural response is let me be empathetic. That’s not how humans respond, you know, and so the thing is, the thing that makes compassionate curiosity so hard is that it’s not hard to understand, like the way I described it and like the breakdown afterwards.

It makes sense, right? What makes it hard is that you’re not going to want to do it in the moment, right? Because what you’re going to want to do is say, you should come to see me. Well, I have kids. You should come to see me. Well, you shouldn’t have left. How could you say I shouldn’t have left? I got my own.

Now we have an unproductive conversations,

[00:44:53] John: right? I mean, that’s my life.

[00:44:54] Kwame: Yeah.

[00:44:56] John: I’m excited to try these things. Thank you.

[00:45:01] Hayley: I’d love to hear from you. If someone’s listening or watching this, where can they kind of Go to find out more about you, but also to find out more about how to negotiate better and things like that

[00:45:13] Kwame: Yeah, so we have the negotiate anything podcast.

That’s a great place to start seven days a week Um, the price point for those episodes are pretty good at free You know, so so check that out.

[00:45:23] Hayley: Yeah, that sounds awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it

[00:45:28] Kwame: Thank you. My pleasure. This was fun.

[00:45:30] Hayley: If you enjoyed this episode, it would be fantastic if you would leave us a rating and review.

You can go to motionhatch.com/rate and leave us a rating and review wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks so much for listening. I appreciate you. See ya.

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