Here’s a fun little anecdote:
One of my retainer clients mentioned that they wanted to extend our engagement for at least an additional 9 months.
BUT they wanted to change the nature of the arrangement a bit and gave some signals that they might want to decrease my involvement - and presumably, my monthly fee.
We agreed in vague terms to “talk about it at some point”. I began thinking about an option for them that would decrease my fee from $8,500.00/mo to $6,000.00/mo. However, I had been really busy with great paying work at the time so I didn’t make the slightest effort to initiate a conversation about it.
A month or two passed...
One day, the project contact and I were on our regular call and at the end he casually mentioned, “By the way, let’s just leave our arrangement as is. Things are always changing so we’re never not going to need you for this.”
Moral of the story:
I will end up netting at least $30k for procrastinating.
Okay, that’s not the real moral of the story - but it does make me laugh ;)
All kidding aside, there is a very real pattern behind this that I have observed in a variety of negotiation scenarios. When I am busy and don’t need the work, I tend to wait longer to reply to people about things. In every case that I can remember, this has produced the effect of softening up the other party.
By being unresponsive, my actions scream “this is more important to you than it is to me” which - as I now know from reading Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff - is a classic power frame move. Conversely, when I am over eager to close deals, I tend to lose them or charge too little.
Klaff discusses the importance of not caring about landing the deal explicitly in Pitch Anything - i.e., he states that he must get into the right frame of mind before he enters the room or there is no way he’ll close the business.
And that, my friends is the real moral of the story:
Make sure you don’t need the work.
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