As a freelance trainer, the day will come sooner or later when you have to negotiate either your rate or the scope of your training provision.

You might find the prospect downright terrifying but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve put together some of my tried and tested tips to help you feel calm, collected and an equal at the negotiating table:

  1. Write down your key goals and objectives for the negotiation

Before you go into negotiations, think about what you want to achieve. This might mean setting your Minimum Acceptable Rate (MAR) for the project or inclusions in the project that you feel are essential.

  1. Sell the benefits

With any negotiation, I think it’s important to focus on the value and benefits that are part of your proposal/position. Think about how your training services will make a difference to the client and make that your focus.

  1. Do your research

Knowledge is power. Find out as much as you can about the potential client, the business and its structure, their needs and industry, as well as pinpointing how your training will provide a positive impact. I’m sure your potential client will respect the fact that you’ve done your homework.

  1. Prepare and use visual aids

Some people find visual aids really helpful in negotiations. They allow people to sit back, relax, follow along and have something to refer back to after the meeting. As a trainer, you’re someone who knows how to hold the attention of an audience and visual aids in negotiations are a great way to show this.

  1. Be flexible

Negotiations often require finding a middle ground between all of the parties involved. This means that you may need to be flexible and go into a negotiation with some ‘wiggle room’. This might be flexibility around the training services you offer, the scope of a training programme, your fees, or the number of trainees in a session.

  1. Know your cut-off point

Although flexibility and compromise are essential in negotiations, everyone should have a cut-off point. In fact, I positively encourage you to decide what you won’t compromise on and when you’re prepared to walk away from a deal.

Yes, negotiations are about give and take but a client relationship where you do all the giving may lead to resentment down the road.

  1. Agree on the scope of work

Before you sign a contract and bring negotiations to a close, it’s crucial that you and the client both agree on the exact scope of the work you will be undertaking. This ensures that you’re both on the same page in terms of expectations, charges and delivery.

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But never fear to negotiate." Quote by John F Kennedy

Better freelance negotiations take practice

As with most things in life, you’ll find that you get better at freelance negotiations the more often you do them. Whether it’s being paid what you’re worth or creating a training package that best reflects your experience, each new contract is a chance to flex and strengthen those negotiating muscles.

How often is negotiation a part of your life as a freelance trainer? Does it come easily to you or do you hate negotiating? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.



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