A note from chelsea:
Many of my conversations with women this year have been centered on pricing and pay-rates. We’ve asked each other: “How do I know if I’m charging enough?” Or, better yet, “I know I’m NOT charging enough, but how do I explain to my clients why I need to charge more now?”
The truth of the matter is, money conversations are tricky ones, and they’re uncomfortable for everybody. But for women who freelance, or negotiate contracts with clients often, knowing your value and being able to demonstrate your value to your clients means that you’ll begin to be paid what you deserve and you can make your business more sustainable. So we reached out to Claire Wasserman, the powerhouse behind Ladies Get Paid, for her top negotiation tips.
by claire wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid
An overwhelming number of women site negotiation—in particular, salary negotiation— as their primary challenge with money. Many are concerned that they’ll come across aggressive or ungrateful if they speak up and ask for more money. I was surprised until I realized that I'd never even considered negotiating my salary, and I was eight years into my career.
When it comes to negotiating, it's important to remember that you have more power than you think. We just need to make sure we get out of our own way.
Here are my top tips for negotiating:
- Identify the mindsets that are not serving you.
Women tend to make the mistake of seeking an emotional connection rather than just money. Feeling loved by your boss or your clients? That’s great! But if you’re not compensated fairly, then you’re not being valued. Don’t expect people to take care of you, and don’t think that they’re going to be fair. They’re going to try to get the best deal they can, and you should do the same.
- You think the person you’re negotiating with has the upper hand? Think again.
When you’re preparing to negotiate, the first thing to consider is: if I have pressure on me, what is the pressure on the other party? But also keep in mind: you’re on the same team and you both serve each other.
- Understand the game—and your role in it—before you play.
In a negotiation, as in a tennis match, the ball goes back and forth across the net. You have to be prepared for that, so you’re not taken by surprise or disempowered when your client (or boss) doesn’t agree with your number right away. Think through how someone could respond to your negotiation. Have an argument, or better yet—stats, to rebut their counteroffer.
- Gather intel on the market value of your work.
In your industry, with your years of experience, in your location—what does someone in your position typically make? Looking at the rate someone else gets paid in the same industry. While this can strengthen your argument, you also need to take into considerations the parameters your particular client may have.
- Decide what number you want.
We tend to ask for less than we actually want in order to mitigate the risk (and calm our nerves). But if you can prove that you are a top performer, go for the top number!
- Have a backup plan.
You get paid your value when you’re ready to walk. The reality is, you have more leverage when you have a Plan B in place.
- Write your script and practice the hell out of it.
Having a hard time? Take some acting lessons. (Seriously.) The most crucial part of your presentation is your opening. As lawyers say, it’s the opening argument, not the closing, that convinces the jury.
- The presentation.
According to a Harvard Business study, when two people communicate, 7% of the conversation is words, 35% is tone, and 58% is physical. It’s easy to be negative, reactive, or fearful. So negotiate with humor! Be proactively positive, and use those acting skills to stand positive and strong. Present your argument as logically as you can, and do it in a format the other party can absorb. (Which means if you need visuals or a sheet with stats, don’t be afraid to make it!)
Women are really good at putting people first and empathizing. Think this makes you too emotional? Actually, it can be a huge advantage when negotiating—as long as you harness it. Your goal is to learn your strengths, know the numbers, be clear about what you want, stand your ground when you need to, and have a backup plan. Now, go get paid.
Claire is heading to LA next month for a west coast Ladies Get Paid “Town Hall.” The event is at Unique Space on March 2 from 6:30 - 9pm. Get all the deets here. Hope to see you there!