Editor's Note: We got a sneak peek at some of the content in The Futur's new Business Bootcamp... and it's really, really good. We liked it so much we asked Chris if we could share some of the tips from the negotiation lesson, and he agreed. All links to the course are affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you purchase the course from our link.
Ready to do some verbal jujitsu? Here are some expert-level negotiating tips from Chris Do.
One of the biggest hurdles that you’ll have to overcome as a Motion Designer is financially asking big boy/girl money when bidding for work. The transition from hobbyist to full-time MoGraph artist is never easy, but as your skills grow, so will the size of your clients and their budgets.
With this new clientele comes new hurdles that will inevitably force you to learn valuable business ownership skills like budgeting, landing gigs, and negotiating rates. We actually talk pretty extensively about these next-level techniques in the Freelance Manifesto, but needless to say, there’s way more to operating as a successful freelancer than can fit in a small book. That’s where our good friend Chris Do comes into play.
Negotiating Tips from Chris Do
Chris Do is the owner of Blind Studios in Los Angeles and The Futur, an online community dedicated to helping and inspiring aspiring studio owners, graphic designers, and creative professionals. Chris’ years of studio experience has empowered him to learn and share valuable lessons in business ownership and design.
Take it from us, the dude’s legit.
We’ve been fascinated with this course and Chris was kind enough to let us take a peek at some of the class content. Needless to say the course looks amazing. The entire thing is full of great, actionable tips for business owners.
Deep inside the course is a section on working with difficult clients. We were so excited about the tips included in this section that we asked Chris if we could share some insights with you right here. And he said yes!
Here’s a few interesting ways to do verbal jujitsu with difficult clients. Chris Do style.
Tip #1: Approach Bullies with Empathy
Unfortunately, not all clients are kind and compassionate. Some clients are angry, overworked, and ready to take it out on somebody. Chris calls these clients a Raging Bulls.
Chris’s Advice: The raging bull is an emotionally charged client. They come in hot and heavy. They’re frustrated and want to dictate terms of engagement. They often say disparaging and dismissive things.
The way you deal with them is to acknowledge their emotional state and resist the urge to respond and escalate the situation. For example, if they say, “I need this done fast! It shouldn’t take you more than a few hours right? When can you do this because it’s pretty easy?!”
Your response would be, “I sense that you are upset and stressed out. Is everything okay? Is there anything I can do to help you?” This will typically stop the bull from charging and take a moment to recognize their state of mind and how they’re coming across. You demonstrate empathy and deal with their feelings before talking about the project.
Tip #2: A Difficult Question Deserves a Question...
In most areas of life when someone asks you a difficult question it’s totally appropriate to say ‘I don’t know’. However, when somebody’s about write you a check for $100K there should probably be a little more certainty. But what happens when a client asks you a really difficult question? Well my friend, may we introduce you to the hall of mirrors.
Chris’s Advice: The hall of mirrors is when you answer a question that don’t want to answer with a question. For example, “Why should I hire you?” Your response would be, “I don’t know. Why did you reach out? Was there something you saw that intrigued you? Or, did someone refer us? If they did, did they have positive things to say or negative things?”
This will work at home too, right?...
Tip #3: Agree with the Client by Doubling Down
It hurts when someone says something negative about your work, just ask anybody on YouTube. However, what if instead of refuting a client's rude remarks, you agreed? In the Business Bootcamp Chris talks about a strategy called Doubling Down where you can disarm the client by doing the exact opposite of what they expect.
Chris’s Advice: Doubling down is when you reinforce what the client is saying and agree with them. They say, “My nephew could do this work. Your prices are ridiculous!” Your response would be, “Our prices are kind of high aren’t they? I’m sure your nephew would do an excellent job. I’m sure you’d get something amazing from working with him. He probably has some really great work in his portfolio and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Plus, you can keep the money in the family.”
Ready for More?
According to Chris the best thing to do is remember to be positive, optimistic, helpful, fiduciary (trustworthy), fair, and unbiased with every client. As you grow in your negotiation skills these tactics will become second-nature, but in the beginning it’ll be a lot of work, just like learning Motion Design.
If you want to grow in your skills with clients check out the Business Bootcamp page over on thefuture’s website. You can get 10% off with promo code SCHOOL-OF-MOTION at checkout. The course has many more helpful tips and techniques for working with clients. After the course you’ll be able to make your clients happier than an Australian Shepherd at bath time.