The biggest misconception I had about the negotiating process has to do with power. I always thought it was important to create the impression of power. I thought the power to make or influence all decisions on site was the key to good negotiating. So to me, it was a true revelation when 1 discovered exactly the opposite was the case.
It seems that during the process of negotiating, the most powerful position you can take is that of powerlessness.
Now, this is an odd thought, so give several reasons supporting it. In business, if you have set up a situation where it seems you must check with someone else before making any decision, you increase your flexibility. Not being able to commit allows you to explore possibilities without being tied down.
During phase two of negotiating, where you exchange information, you will be able to gather all the information possible, yet still delay approval. Not only will you have a chance to digest the information (potentially affecting your counter offer), but you will gain the subtle psychological benefits or delayed approval.
If you are personally accountable for decisions, and can make them unquestioned on the spot, you have limited your options and flexibility. You weaken your negotiating position. You might be pressed to decide on something before adequate research or thought has been applied, or possibly pressed for special favors because of the direct access to the decision maker.
A separate, usually absent entity, like a manager, agent, agency, or even spouse, can be used as a "higher authority" whose pending approval makes commitment impossible.
I don't have an agent, manager to use a higher authority. So at one time, I created a company called The Secret Service, to handle my bookings. I was the only person in this company, and I had exclusive representation of only myself, but the fact that no one else knew that made a lot of things easier and more effective. Ifs reasonable to see how a company name can give an impression of stability, or substance. And while some corporations may feel funny about approving large contracts with an individual, it's very natural for them to commit to another company.
On the other hand, if someone calls you, and there are dogs barking and kids playing in your background, you probably won't want to go for the corporate image. But don't worry, you can still, with a clear conscience say, "lean'tgive you a decision on that right now. \ I' should only take me a days to clear up a few related things, but I could get right back to you, though."
There is always the possible consideration of other people or what they call the "opportunity costs" to consider. Opportunity costs are the values of the alternative choices that could have occupied that time. You might be able to use the date itself as the determining factoryou would have to check with.
actually, need to get back to you on this. Another project is tentatively set for that day."
This is not to say that all bookings or negotiations need to be resolved by a call back. But the Call To A Higher Authority Gambit does allow you more latitude for action, and room to think. Developing the habit now will help it seem natural when those big calls come.
GAMBIT NUMBER FOUR:
The Go For It" 1 Gambit
You know, for any of these ideas to work, you're going to have to start with something. Start with this one. Ifs the most simple. All you do, is ask for more. As a suggestion, try 20% more. I mean, if shard to make a 10% raise seem "long overdue..."
Inexperienced negotiators tend to go into the negotiation with their very best offer up front. Maybe they lack faith in their product, or their ability to negotiate. When they hear things like:
"We just don't have much of a budget..."; or, "Think all the work you'll get out of this!"
They so lower their expectations that their opening quote is the lowest they can survive working for.
Experienced negotiators recommend asking for more than they expect to get, while implying flexibility. The first reason why is, sometimes, you get it! Secondly, if you are pressed into flexibility during the give and take of Stage Three, you have set the stage for the other person to "win" the negotiation.
Use this idea just once, and youH profit from it Make it a progressive habit, and you'll change your standard of living.
This idea of "going for it" goes beyond price as well. In the world of sales there is the phrase, "Youhave to ASK to GET." Sounds like a pretty good plan.
GAMBIT NUMBER FIVE:
As you listen to some of these ideas, you might wonder, "Now come on, does he expect me to use all these GAMBITS? I'm an ARTIST!" I understand. I offer this variety of gambits, some of which may make you too uncomfortable to use, for the sake of completeness. Being aware of them provides you a defense, as much as an arsenal.
This particular tactic is used during the moment of relaxation that takes place in both parties, immediately following an agreement.
Reaching a decision relieves tension on both sides, creating an ideal climate for a good na-hired, but aggressive approach. Following the agreement on price and service, now is the perfect time to throw in requests like, "Of course, that's plus all expenses..." or just, "You'll throw in hotel, won't you?"Some might be able to say, "Since be using an assistant, need to bill their expenses separately."
When traveling for several days, you might say, "/ usually get a per diem for &v:U day on the rood for living expenses..."
Do you see why if s called the salami technique? You might never think of eating a whole salami, but it goes down easy a slice at a time. The same is true of the total value of the end agreement If you ask for it all up front, they might talk you out of the extras during the negotiation. But they seem easy enough to grant once the big decision is out of the way.
They say one of the best ways to make money, is to save money. If you can cover some of your expenses more effectively on the small gigs, life could get easier. Ask them to throw in dinner, or parking, or pay for your travel time.
Of course, if s wise to watch out for clients who have mastered the Salami Technique. It is so tempting to say yes to simple extras, "since you're going to be there anyway..." But let it get out of hand, and they will seriously chip away your value structure.
GAMBIT NUMBER SIX:
Sometimes, even though you are very interested in working for a particular client, you might not be able to agree on a price. Rather than to lower your price now, which could set a precedent that would work against you on future dates, begin to explore different areas your services might be of value to them.
Maybe this is just the summer picnic for a company that has Easter or Halloween functions for the children, a Christmas party for the employees, and sends out special customized gifts for their customers each year. If you bring these other considerations into the picture, perhaps you can justify a lower price now, with the guarantee of additional work in other areas.
Sometimes, if you can't come together on a price, you might want to pass the show on to a different performer, while still exploring possibilities for other work from that client. If you are clearly sensitive to their needs, and if you are professional in the way you approach your business, any client should be happy to consider you for other openings.
In approaching new work, there is the idea of horizontal marketing, where you try to approach all the different companies in a given industry. But there is also vertical marketing, where your client sensitivity opens you up to many options inside the same company.
By sticking to your price, while exploring other possible relationships, you lock in the impression that there is tangible value to the somewhat nebulous service of entertainment. A value not to be distorted or compromised.
GAMBIT NUMBER SEVEN:
If there is one single gambit that will result in your making more money from self representation, it will be the ability to walk away from a booking. In fact, this is such a fundamental train of thought, calling it a gambit might not do itjustice.
Siegfried, of Siegfried and Roy, once pointed out that before you could make good money in Las Vegas, you had to look like you didn't need it If you needed the money, or if you needed the booking, it was like the kiss of death. Successful people like associating with successful people. Thafs point number one.
A second point is, that if you are truly afraid of losing this booking, you are going to build in a pricing cushion that will prevent any threat of being too expensive. You'll leave a margin between what you are willing to work for, and the upper limit of what you might be worth, just to be sure you get the booking.
Does this margin exist in your pricing now? If you had the confidence to push it, if you had conviction in your service, would you be able to charge $375 for an act you normally sell for $300? Thafs a 25% increase.
If you work on factors supporting your service, and ifyou consider ways of increasing your value, do you think they'll be able to afford $450, instead of $300? That's a 50% increase.
It might really help, if you looked i.vmi-itiilv at the clients you have talked with over the last year. How many of these shows have you lost because you were too expensive? Do 25% of the people who call you hire someone else because you were too expensive? Or are you like many, who never let someone walk away because they couldn't afford you?
One very talented friend of mine realty loves to perform. As a result, he never walks away from a booking. If they don't have his normal fee, he'll work for less. His position is, "What harm could it possibly do? I quote my fee up front, but if it is too much, 1 ask what they want to spend. It always turns out to be more than I'd make staying at home!"
It is hard to argue directly with this position. But consider the effect on your negotiating, however subtle, that would result from being more sensitive to the lower earning ranges than the upper ones. Consider the number of bookers that become aware of your lower salaries. Consider the possible future bookings that might go to others, when these particular people do come across a higher budget.
Here is another consideration. If I need the show - if I need the money, I'm going to try to book anything I can. In other words, no matter how round the hole, I can get a square peg into it if I have to.
But if I'm willing to walk away from a booking if everything isn't right for ail involved, then I'm likely to come across much more professionally to the caller. If I'm willing to recommend another act "who might serve their needs, and budget, better ", don't I increase the chances for getting the fee I really deserve when the time comes for these people to increase their budget? Even if the cheaper act does a good job, don't you think the booker wonders how much better it would have been to have gotten a "really professional act"?
GAMBIT NUMBER EIGHT:
Give 'Em A Second Chance
If you and your potential client aren't able to come to a price agreement, and you've mastered the ability to walk away from it all, don't think the fat lady has sung. Give them just one more chance to see the error of their ways.
"Well, I can certainly understand it if your budgetjust won't allow it, or if you need something a little different. But, before you commit, l ci still like to send you a brochure and a video -, ' ■ some i the things 1 do. At least this way, you'll know what your future options mightbe... "
If you work quickly, there is an excellent chance your Ln formation will arrive before they commit to another act. In my case, I've been able to turn 3 or 4 "No's" into "Yes!" That isn't a huge number, but every one of them counted.
By giving them a second chance, you are certain you are in their files, you make certain they are in your files, and by following up your mailing with a phone call, you make it easier than ever to do business with you.
GAMBIT NUMBER NINE:
One way to prevent yourself from losing shows as a result of your original quote being too high, would be to build what I call a "safety net" into your pricing structure.
What that amounts to, basically, is a second act that you can perform for a lower fee. Or, it might be a different performing character - still played by you, but capable of working for a lower fee.
As an example, perhaps you have a non-livestock act, that you'd be willing to perform for $125, instead of your normal $250.
Another great example was developed by Hank Moorehouse. Hank, as "Hank", does a very funny professional act. But if you can't afford "Hank", perhaps you'd like Mr. Bubbles. The Mr. Bubbles act is perfect for kids. "Because", Hank tells me with a smile, "I don't like kids. But Mr. Bubbles loves them!"
If you have an act that has been recognized with a prestigious award, or a television appearance, you might be able to base your initial quote on that act. If they truly don't have the budget, for the act in question, explain that you have another act. One which requires less set up time, or is less expense to produce. Explain that, even though the pricing is for your award winning show, both shows are good. It just so happens the second show is more affordable.
As you'll remember, the 3 stages of negotiating are: First, find out what the other side wants. Then, gather more information. And finally: Reach for an agreement By following these three steps, with an understanding of the GAMBITS just covered, you will pull your earnings into line with your value.
In remember that negotiating is not just a matter of getting what you want It is also discovering what others truly want, and what value they place in achieving it.
Exposing yourself to the different stages of negotiating and the gambits that go along with them is only part of the battle. Since putting them to use is the ultimate objective, you might want to consider easing yourself into it
In magic, I've always felt that who is good now, needed someplace to be bad. For example, it really helped me to have my home state of West Virginia as a developing ground. It allowed me to develop maturity away from possibly critical eyes that might have discouraged further effort.
By the same token, you might want to practice these negotiating techniques in your everyday life, so that when the big deals roll in, they'll be second nature to you.
For example, the next time you eat at Denny's, try Flinching when you get your bill. Or, if you truly ARE shocked by the price of something, allow yourself to react naturally, and remember that reaction. File it away, for reuse in the future.
Finally, let me end with a sincere hope, and also issue a challenge:
Make all your negotiations win-win interactions. Make all of your relationships value for value. And make most of your money from repeat bookings.
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