How Freelancers Should Prepare for Negotiations

Are you a freelance? Need to prepare for negotiations? I’ve got you covered. It’s a fact that the global freelance economy is booming. An increasing number of professionals around the world are rejecting the standard 9-5 employment model and opting to pursue success in new ways. What’s there to love about freelancing?

You get to manage your own schedule, pick your clients, and dictate how much you earn. However, no matter how skillful you are at your core trade, a freelancer’s success in securing high paying contracts usually boils down to how effective you are at negotiation. How do the best freelancers prepare for the sales negotiation process?

Freelancer Negotiations

Research Your Client’s Needs

Before you sell your skills, you need to know what your client needs vis-à-vis the services you offer. Here are a few sales negotiation training points you may want to research, depending on the kind of freelance service you offer:

  • What are the market trends?
  • What’s the projected ROI?
  • How have others benefitted from similar services?
  • What are your client’s competitors doing?
  • What’s the market price for your level and quality of service?
  • What’s your scope of work?
  • What are your production costs?

Assess Client Priorities

Sales negotiation training in Johannesburg coupled with thorough research will prepare you to tackle your prospective client’s actual and probable needs. Before and during the negotiation meeting, try and determine what aspects of the contract the client wants most. Identify the needs which you can readily sell into.

Some focus points when negotiating with freelance clients include:

  • Does the client need schedule guarantees? Do you need to meet often, whether physically or online?
  • Will the client need to hire extra freelancers, like editors and proofreaders, or do you have a team to handle that?
  • Will the client require you to deal with other third parties, like designers, hosting service providers, and email carriers?

Prepare Visual Aids

According to a study by Intuit, over 40% of the American workforce will be independent workers by the year 2020. The Southern African Freelancer’s Association 2017/2018 report shows an increase in the number of freelance workers, opportunities, and rates between 2015 and 2019. While this is great news about the global viability of freelance work, it also means you’re competing against a wide pool of professionals.

Get an edge over your competition by visualizing your ideas in a way clients can easily relate to. Sales negotiation training equips you to prepare visual aids that illustrate your services and benefits to clients.

While creating visual aids may take up your time in the beginning, once done, the visual aids may save you time when you come to selling your services. Also, you may be able to re-use your visual aids to sell to multiple clients in the future.

Measure Your Impact

Almost any freelancer can claim to be a marketing expert, a blogging guru, or an app-building aficionado. While such titles may sound impressive, they don’t communicate the impact your product has on the client’s business.

Prepare for negotiations by giving a measure of the value the you can create for the client. For instance, you can highlight some positive reviews left by previous clients. You may also highlight quantifiable metrics, such as social media shares, web page views, or the number of downloads.

Using strategies from sales negotiation training, find out which types of data have the most significant positive impact on your client’s type of business. If you can quantify your impact, be ready with proven numbers. The most prized metric is the impact on your client’s bottom line profit from either increased revenue or decreased costs.

Be Open to Give and Take

Whether you’re bargaining on price or haggling over deadlines, go into sales negotiations with an open mind. If you take a hard stance, aiming for a win-lose situation, you risk creating long-term struggles with some of the clients.

When negotiating, be ready to work with different client types. Some clients will feel very strongly about what they think is best, while others will accept your work as presented. For instance, if you’re a digital marketer, one client may feel their product only needs one landing page while another will readily accept your recommendation for additional sales pages.

Be ready to come up with ideas to maximize the mutual benefits of the relationship. Don’t sell yourself short by only asking for the minimum requirements. Ask for larger goals but be sure to indicate to your prospective client that you’re willing to negotiate, if necessary.

In negotiating training, you learn to make concessions that bring you closer to an agreement while taking your bottom line into acount. Bring your concessions to the client’s attention while simultaneously requesting for good-faith value exchanges.

Know Your Tipping Point

Though you’re open to some give and take, it has to be within reasonable limits. Go into negotiations with a clear idea of the red line that you won’t cross.

Knowing your tipping point works both ways. Ideally, you should find out beforehand what your client’s negotiation positions are. Negotiation positions are the terms the client would prefer or the things the client will open the negotiation by asking for. Once you know your tipping point and the client’s negotiation position, you have more confidence in the range of options available to you.


Freelance work is attractive to many professionals who desire to break from the 9-5 employment model. To succeed as a freelancer, you need to be able to effectively negotiate with clients on rates, terms, and deliverables.

Preparation is the key to successful sales negotiations and establishing yourself as a valuable, resourceful freelancer. With the above preparation tips, you can walk into your future negotiations feeling calm, collected, and confident.

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Milena Gallo

Marketing advisor by day, do-gooder by night. I've led teams to great success through effective digital marketing campaigns that connect new audiences with important information and opportunities for skill-building.

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