Negotiate the Best Deals Ever!


Hello, Joshua Boswell here with Copywriter Marketer Newsletter. So, today we’re gonna focus on marketing, and inside of marketing, one of the questions I always get asked is: How can I negotiate the best deals ever? How do I get killer projects, and negotiate the deal? What happens when we get into a dialogue and they want to charge this and I really want to charge that. Or they want to pay me this and I want to charge that. How do we resolve those things and how do we make that negotiation? I think that one of the biggest challenges there, is that we start from the wrong foundation. We start at the wrong perspective. So, I want to talk about seven points of negotiating the best deals ever and help establish not only a foundation but, some techniques and some scripts that have worked really well for me and I think could work really, really well for you.

So let’s start way back before you ever meet the client, before you ever have the conversation, before any of that ever happens; that’s where the best negotiations start. Here’s where they start. In my little seven point formula. Here’s the very first thing if you want to have great deals, if you want to get paid really well, if you want to have the ability to negotiate initial projects and then upsells and then cross sales and then bring it back in and upsell those cross sales and have clients for years and years and years to come. Remember, bird in the hand, way better than bird over in the bush, right? Bird in the bush is potential. Bird in the hand is reality. So, how do you multiply that? How do you capture that golden goose and get them to keep laying the golden egg again and again and again and again?

Number 1: The very first thing on my list here is to know what your target hourly rate is, Ok? Not the client’s hourly rate. I’m talking about your hourly rate. Your rate. You should have a goal. A financial goal saying; okay this year I’m going to make X amount of dollars. You should be able to break that down and say; okay, to make that much money I’m going to have to work this many hours at this much rate. Because everybody only has twenty four hours in a day. Now if you’re smart, you will bill out in project increments. Not hourly rate. Then you have to track the extra hours for the client, and then they … “Well, I don’t think you’re email really should take that long.” Well it did because I did extra research and then it’s back and forth and …

Just decide on a project rate but, here’s the thing: you need to know about how much time that project is gonna take you. How long is it going to cost you in terms of time; your time investment? Once you know that, you need to say, “well how much can I charge for each one of those hours?” and that’s what you charge for the project. So each of your projects is in harmony with your target hourly rate.

This is very simple to do. We can look at this very simple formula. What we do first is: What’s your annual income goal? Say, you want to make a $100,000 a year. Then can break that down. $100,000 a year is $8,333.33, or something like that, on a given month. Then you need to decide, how many hours in a month am I going to work on my copywriting business?

You might say, I’m going to work twenty hours a week and that is for eighty hours a month. Now you’ve got how much money you want to make and how much time you’re willing to put into it and then you just divide that out. So, eighty hours a month, if you want to make $8,333 that means you need to make, my math is not going to totally right here but, you need to make like, $103 an hour or something like that, to hit that goal. If you’re going to only work that many hours and you want to hit that goal, then you’ve got to make about a $100-110 per hour. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. If I’m doing the math wrong or explaining it wrong, you go back and figure it out.

You basically need to know how much time you can put into your copywriting business and how much you’re going to charge for each one of those hours. If you’re always looking at a rate that’s under your target hourly rate then you’re never going to hit your goal. So, you got to change your goal or got to change the kind of clients that you’re working with. That’s the first thing to know. If you can’t hit those numbers then you got to go into a different sandbox to play. This is the first thing: you got to target your hourly rate. You got to know what that is in every situation, every point in the year and every time you begin a conversation with a client, you got to know what you’re hourly rate is.

Number two: Now this leads into the second thing. Once you know what this is you got to target the right clients. Ok, say every time I write, I want to make $500 an hour and you’re going after small non-profit organizations that have a five hundred donor base … So five hundred people are donating to the organization and they’re donating an average of five dollars per person, well, then guess what? I’ve got news for you. You’re not going to be able to hit your target rate very effectively. The thing is, is you got to target the right kind of clients.

Starting out, I wanted to make $100-150 per hour of every hour that I was doing work. That meant that in my research, in my marketing in my follow ups, all of that was time I was putting into my business. I had to charge my clients two hundred dollars an hour for my stuff, or I mean my projects had to average out to be about that much money. I couldn’t mess around with companies that were paying low amounts of money. I had to go after bigger fish. I’d go after the ones who were like, “hey, ten thousand dollars for a project? No problem, we can handle that. We’ll take care of that. It’s not that big of a deal.” You want to target the right client.

Your goal could be fifty dollars an hour. It can be twenty five dollars an hour. For all I care, it could be ten dollars an hour. I think that’s way beneath your privileges, but you can have that goal. That’s fine. It’s your prerogative. It can be five hundred dollars an hour. It can be fifteen thousand dollars an hour. I don’t care what it is, but once you know what that is, once you can target the right clients that you know have a way of paying that … now how do you know if they have a way of paying that? If you’re targeting companies that do over five million dollars, they’re pretty much going to have the ability to pay most hourly rates. There’s some other criteria there, but look, you’ll get a feel for that.

That means that when you’re going into the conversation, you’re pretty confident you know what your goal is and you know they can afford you. That is a super important part of the negotiating process because then you’re not wondering: Are they gonna be able to swallow the proposal that I’m giving them? You got to have that confidence.

The Third thing is really, really important. This third thing is literally the foundation for your ability to upsell, because you always want to upsell. And it’s your ability to cross sell, you always want to cross sell. Now, what’s the difference between an upsell and a cross sell? An upsell is, is they bring you on and they hire you to write, let’s say, content for one page in their website and they’re gonna pay you a thousand dollars for it. Or five hundred dollars or hundred dollars, whatever it is. Let’s just say a thousand dollars. And you look around their site and you’re like, hey this is great I’m writing this one landing page or a bit of content for your website but you also need a sales letter and an opt-in form and some more articles so that you’re more search engine optimized. You guys need more stuff on this website and I can do that for you. Why don’t I put a proposal together? Now, that’s an upsell. It’s taking what they already gave you: website project. And you’re just adding more website projects to it.

A cross sell is when they say, “hey we want you to do this website build out and the content on this website.” and you go, “great.” And then you say, “hey do you have an auto-responder series to go along with it? What about some Google ads? What about a social media campaign? What about writing speeches for your executives and having them do presentations at the local Lions club or international association conventions, or whatever?” You’re taking the base project and using that as leverage to get all these kinds of writing assignments and projects you can do for them. That’s called a cross sell. You’re not sticking with the original assignment. You’re going into different categories and different price points. Does that make sense?

Number three is key to your upsell and cross sell ability. That is, you got to ask questions. Lot’s of questions. You got to be super curious and really sincere about wanting to know what they do and how they’re doing it. You got to be passionate about helping them make more money. Remember the golden rule? Remember the golden rule is: Do unto others as you would have them do to you? That applies here. Remember the law of the harvest, you reap what you sow? That’s got to apply here. If you want more profit, if you want more income, if you want them to pay you more then you got to figure out how to make them more money. You want more profits? You got to give more profits. You got to provide a revenue stream for them that’ll help them create a greater income. That’s the second thing is you got to be curious and you won’t be able to provide that revenue stream if you don’t know what they’re doing and what they’re about and how they’re going after it.

I’m not going to get into the kinds of questions to ask here. You have access to that. The easy conversation, my three golden questions, those are the basis of that. But, you find out what they want, why they want it and what it looks like when they’ve got it. You find out what their goals and their dreams and their ambitions are. And what their projects are and how it fits into their corporate culture and all those kind of things. You just get curious about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. And as you’re asking those questions and as they’re giving you answers, then you’ve got to step back and think carefully. Like, all right, they’re wanting this campaign to do this because they want to hit this goal over here. What are they missing? What can I add to that? What skills and ability? Can I put my voice and experience into this category or do I need to put something over here? How can I help out with this project and make this more efficient and more effective? You got to be curious and ask lots of questions about what they do. That’s the next step.

The fourth thing is: Once you got that, once you can see, oh they need some emails. These guys need some social media campaigns. They need to have their website SEO optimized. They need more content. They got to have some YouTube videos. Fill in the blank. They need brochures. They got to have some white papers. I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is they need, you’re gonna find out through being curious.

The next step is: You need to put together a simple…I emphasize simple…simple proposal. Let me tell you something. I’ve seen proposals all over the map. I’ve seen in depth, line item … I’m willing to write this one email, it will be this many words. It will take me this … you know detailed. Line by line by line. Maybe there’s a place for that but, initially when you’re negotiating the deal and you’re putting basic proposals together … I think that’s a project outline. I don’t think that’s a proposal. That’s just my opinion. I think those detailed line item kind of stuff, that’s a project outline. That’s like a gantt chart. That’s like step one, step two, step three, step four, step five, all they way down for what you’re gonna do for it. I know that there are some people who do that so they have a negotiating technique surrounded by that. But, I don’t subscribe to that and if found that it’s much easier to start with a simple proposal.

What do I mean by simple proposal? Let me give you an example. Here’s a very simple proposal: I had a company approach me about writing video scripts. They were doing this educational series. They had this members list, they had subscribers and they were doing these educational videos. So they came to me and said, “Joshua, we’re doing these educational videos, can you write the scripts? They need to be three minute long videos. Will you write the scripts and then we’re gonna have someone come in and read the scripts and record them in front of the camera and then we’re gonna publish them as these short three minute training videos for our membership.” I was like, “Yeah, I would love to write those scripts. This is super simple, I can do this.” “Okay, we want 21 of the scripts, will you put that together?” “Cool, no problem.” I’m shortening this down because I asked them a whole bunch of questions and I sat down and I thought about it and I realized, okay, I can do this. So I sent back a proposal.

The proposal basically said: Hey, thanks so much. I am confident that I can do this project for you, get this done by this deadline, we’d already talked about the deadline. If I can get this done by deadline and have this be a really successful project for you to educate your people and give them a crystal clear understanding of these 21 topics, would five hundred dollars for each video script be an appropriate number? I just put that in an email; that was my proposal. I sent it off to them. I didn’t do all the math and add it all up but you know, five times twenty one … Ten, twelve, fourteen thousand dollars, or something. I sent that off to them and they were like, great. Then I sent back and said, okay, now here are the details of the project. Here’s what I did … we talk about cross sell and upsell … The beauty of this simple proposal was: They knew exactly what they were getting, they knew exactly what the price point was, and they were compelled to say yes or no.

I used a word in there … we’ll go over this again. I used a word in there that’s the key turning point word because it does something psychologically to the brain. I’ll walk through that script in just a minute. Because I asked a lot of questions, it also allowed me to upsell them … you’d consider a cross sell … I wrote the scripts and then I talked them into using me as the spokesperson which is great because that was another twenty thousand dollars on top of the other. We can talk about that later.

Here’s number five: The fifth thing you want to do is you want to make an assumptive close. Now, assumptive close simply means this: you make the assumption that they’re going to say yes and you’re going to go ahead and get started. So, let’s expand this out a little bit. I said, I’ll do the twenty one videos, five hundred dollars a piece, for the script and I can get it by this date. If I can do that, would that be an appropriate investment for you to make? And they said yes. But, I put at the bottom of the email: I think this is going to be a great project, I’m going to get started on the research for this and start writing the first script. I can’t wait to hear from you. Boom.

I assumed and I projected to them that I assumed that I was going to get the project and that it was going to be … You know, we’re gonna have a lot of fun doing it and it was going to successful and I was already cooking down the road, getting ready to put this together for them so I could hit deadline. I made that assumptive close that we were going to be able to do this project together and to do it very successfully.

Let me just circle back up. The assumptive close … If you have done your job up here, especially on number three. If you haven’t done your job here and you skip this step or you haven’t learned very much about them, you haven’t started connecting with them, doesn’t really work. Because, if you ask a lot of questions and you write the simple proposal, the assumptive close works because they’ve already made an investment into you and time and energy. So, they’ve already said, hey here’s what we’re doing. They’ve trained you, they’ve educated you, they’ve talked with you through many of their projects and you’ve asked a lot of questions and so now they’re thinking, “Joshua knows our stuff now and so he’s already started. And so it’s too much effort to go to someone else, so, he’s right. Let’s just get started on it.” So there’s a lot of psychology that goes into play here.

The simple proposal helps them feel like you’re there to solve problems for them. When they started reading the proposal, it didn’t cost them more time. It saved them time. And you additionally showed that you could communicate complex ideas very simply. Isn’t that one of the things we do as writers? We want to take complicated ideas and we went to make them very, very simple. So we do the assumptive close.

Now, number six. The sixth thing that we do here is: is that we are generous and easy to work with. Here’s how this works. I learned this from Bill Bonner and Mark Ford. It’s very simple. A lot of people thing of the word negotiating as like you know, you’re gonna sit down at this table and you’re gonna be across this table from someone it’s like, you’re ready to duke it out. They’re gonna propose something, you’re gonna counter attack and counter negotiate and they’re gonna come back and they’re gonna counter. And then you’re gonna counter and then pretty soon it’s a sparing match. You’re gonna try to get them right to the point where you’ve just squeezed every bit of money and dollar out of the project, they possibly can. They’re over on the other side like, how can I just squeeze this writer down so he gives me the most copy for the tiniest money. Does this sound familiar? I like to get on the same side of the table with them and focus on the project. Not on the dollar amount.

How do we help you be more successful? What do we have to do to help this campaign rock? Right off the bat, asking these questions and being curious and doing the things that I’ve said here … I just want to be on their side of the table. That’s what I mean about being generous. You just give yourself. You give your ideas. You give your thoughts. You reach out to them. You think about their stuff. You do to them what you would like them to do to you. You plant seeds so that you can reap a great harvest and there can be a win/win. You’re generous and then you’re easy. If they come back … If I propose something and I say okay … Let’s just use my example.

I proposed $500 for each of the twenty one videos. What if they had come back and said, hey, we love you, we think you’d be great to work with but, legitimately there’s no way we could pay more than $400 for this. I got to make a decision at this point. $400 a script or $500 a script, $100 a script. Twenty one videos, that’s $2,100 I’m going to lose out on this deal. I got to make a decision. Is that still within the bounds of my hourly rate? Can I do this project faster? Even though it’s $400 per project, can I do it faster so that it falls within my hourly rate? Or can I take the smaller rate to make an investment into this client and then cross sell them and upsell them to recoup that money and in an overall client basis, I still hit my hourly rate target. I have to make some of those decisions. If I can’t meet those criteria then number seven comes into play.

If I can meet those criteria, if I can figure out a way … If I can see in my mind a way to upsell them and cross sell them or I can see that I can do the project faster or that the negotiating price is still within my range … if those three things are in place then my answer is: Sure, four hundred bucks. That’s fine. A lot of times they’re like, ready for battle and when you just go, sure. Now what are they gonna say? Oh never mind, we don’t want you to do the project. No. They are gonna be like, let’s get started. And so, usually I’m like, yeah sure, let’s get started on it. I’ll do that, that’s fine. I’m excited about it. Let’s get started. Move!

If you can’t sort that out, if it’s not a good long term investment, if you can’t upsell and cross sell, if you can’t figure out how to do things faster, if it’s just going to be way outside the bounds your hourly rate then number seven is really important. That is: you got to be willing to walk away. You have to have … Number one, you’ve got to respect yourself and your family. A little bit of money from a project that’s going to consume a lot of your time and prevent you from finding other clients that will actually pay your rate is not worth it. It’s not worth it. And what you’ll find is those clients that are always in that mode of just, I’m just gonna squeeze this copywriter down to get all the copy out of him that I can … those guys are the worst clients ever to work with. They will not respect your time. They will not respect you copy. They will not respect your insights and your opinion. They just won’t. And you need to avoid those guys like the plague. Do not negotiate deals with people that are just money grubbing and trying to suck you dry. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. You want people who are generous and easy to work with. Just like you want to be generous and easy to work with.

Now, that will not be a very big deal if you targeted the right clients. In fact, you’ll find it very easy … you know I have people talk to me all the time. “I negotiated this deal, we got the contract then they stiffed me on the final payment.” Or, “They were so hard to work with.” Or, “They didn’t even send the first check and I already sent the copy.” I hear all these war stories and crazy stuff.

Let me tell you something. With like, one or two exceptions, this never has happened to me. It just doesn’t happen to me. Why? Because I follow these seven steps. Because I have my hourly rate, and I target the right kind of clients, and then I try to reap what I sow and sow what I want to reap. And I’m generous and easy to work with. All of these things I put into play and you get what you … again, law of the harvest…you get what you put out. So, because I’m trusting and because I’m easy to work with, because I’m kind to people and sincere and I ask a lot of questions and I’m genuinely curious about things. Because I try to do all those things, all those things come back to me. It makes for a great lifestyle. And that’s what allows you to negotiate the best deals ever. Because you got yourself on a foundation of correct principles that produce a lot of wonderful results.

That’s my training on marketing yourself, negotiating these deals. If you’ll follow these seven steps and ingrain them into your system, you’ll find that you’ll never have to worry about getting paid a lot and paid frequently and you’ll never be in that uncomfortable situation of trying to negotiate your stuff.

Before I end, let me just go over the script one more time. When I get into the proposal phase, either I’m on the phone with them or through email, however I’m doing it, I like to use this particular phrase. I like to say: if I can accomplish they’re goal, they’re dream, whatever. If I can help you get a hundred new clients or if I can hit deadline by the November first deadline. If I can help you beat your control. If I can, whatever. If I can help you do this then is, fill in the blank your proposed amount, If I can do this, then is this proposed amount for the project an appropriate investment?

Let me just go through this again. If I can get these twenty one videos done for you on time in a way that will help your clients be completely educated, know these twenty one ideas inside and out through a three minute video, then is five hundred dollars per video an appropriate investment for you to make? See how I did that? So, if, their dream, then your fee, is that an appropriate investment for you to make? The word “appropriate” is the thing that’s the key there, because they’re having to take whatever their goal and dream and desire, objective purpose is, compare it with the dollar amount that you’re proposing and then having to ask themselves, is that appropriate or not appropriate? And they’re going to think like, well yeah that’s an appropriate amount because we’re getting the huge lion’s share of the deal and we’re only paying a small investment. So they know … very, very simple…if those videos can help a small handful of new subscribers come through the door then it was well worth their investment of five hundred dollars per video for the videos that I did.

So it was an easy equation for them. They didn’t have to think about it. If their dream or goal, then this proposed investment or not is an appropriate amount for them. If you use that simple formula as you write your simple proposal then you’ll find that people have a higher tendency to say, “well sure.” It’s clear, it helps them compare their objective, your investment. It puts it in the right context in the frame work and it makes it very simple.

If you have questions on this, feel free to send me a little note. Comment on Facebook. Love to hear from you. Thanks for watching. I’ll talk to you later.