Fee Negotiating – a Four Step ‘Win-Win’ Process

Many clients have asked me for a process for fee negotiating and I can recommend this four step approach:

Step 1 – Client says what they want. But instead of simply getting on and doing it, as many professional service providors are tempted to do, I’m proposing three further steps.

Step 2 – Partner says what the firm is prepared to offer. I’m aware how bold this sounds. Instead of either saying yes or being left slightly unclear what they are looking for, you will benefit from asking more questions. Then consider replying with something perhaps slightly different, which we can call the offering. Another way of looking at this is the clients can describe what they want, but don’t always know what they need. As a  specialist you can help them and redefine the brief, thereby adding value. But my recommended process for better negotiating doesn’t end there….

Step 3 – Partner says what the firm needs from the client. I’m proposing that you also have legitimate requests to make of the client! This may come as a shock to some of you but it works a treat. What might these requests be? Well, for starters, there’s the need for information and documents. Then I’d urge you to consider asking for responsibility for certain actions to be taken by the client’s staff and for approval deadlines to be met by the client to avoid unnecessary last minute revisions of documents (ie additional expense). It seems fair to make these requests, particularly when the client is asking for more work to be done perhaps when you are working to fixed fees.

Step 4 – Client commits to delivering the firm’s requests. This step simply involves getting commitments, ideally in writing, that the client agrees to having responsibilities for certain tasks and meeting the deadlines. By doing this, the chances of misunderstandings are minimised.

Hope you find this helpful. It works!


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