Abercrombie quote: "Few books exist to guide you through creating a business foundation for your firm that gives you greater space to focus on design."

Keith believes that designers need to advocate for their services by educating potential clients that hiring them is necessary with fixed rates based on the real value of their design services, and that an appropriate profit is made after overhead is taken out. While you are negotiating, you are actually educating your clients about fees.

The following are seven strategies for successful negotiation that are explored in greater detail in The Business of Creativity.

1.  Be Confident

Confidence in yourself and your value goes a long way in convincing a client to take on your services for the fee you deem are right for your services. If you project a strong sense of confidence about the value of your talent, the less you actually have to negotiate. It is important not to communicate any insecurities to a prospective client as it can affect your ability to negotiate in your favor.

2.  Operate from a position of strength

Whether you are new to the field or a seasoned designer, it is vital to be the main driver of the negotiation tactics and never let any desperation slip through. In fact, it may benefit you to suggest peer designers who might also be a good fit. Most of the time, the client will choose you in any case because they admire the confidence you have to recommend others even if you risk losing business. This age-old playing hard to get trick can be amazingly universal…even in business.

3. Listen to the client

It is vital for you to fully express the value of your design talents but it is even more important to be completely receptive to a client’s desires, goals, concerns, and fears and tailor your sales pitch accordingly. If a client feels supported and excited by what you have to offer, the more likely they will pay the fees you want.

4. Be fair

You should be able to address client concerns about things that may not be quite right in a proposal. Be sure to only develop fees that concern your design work and concepts and not expensive engineering or code requirements that would undercut your ability to get a fair fee.

5. Articulate your value

Be proud to display your portfolio and give client’s tours of recently completed projects. It is important, however, to show off past work in the context of a client’s desires so they realize exactly what you can do for them and why your fees are at a certain level. You can demonstrate budgets, timelines, and organizational aspects of your business that will make a client feel confident about choosing you.

6. Allay fears

To build a great design business, you must master the art of cultivating designer-client trust and that the client is the ultimate decision-making in the whole process. You must make your clients feel safe in a given project in that you’re working in their best interests and will not take advantage of this good faith.

7. Be Flexible

While you shouldn’t be flexible with rates and fees, you must have an overall willingness to make adjustments in schedules, products, staffing, etc. that will lead to a signed contract between you and your client. Emphasize to your client that you are striving to deliver the best project within their budget and are not simply out to make money.

Laptop on the desk