Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Power of the Next Time

In what could be one of my last posts on this blog, I'd like to talk about something that's very simple and very underappreciated — the positive aspect of the

next time

We tend to associate the 'next time' with empty promises that are cheap currency to exchange for tangible financial concessions on our part. But, the 'next time' can be used as a positive tool just as well.

Few of us freelancers, solos and small entrepreneurs aren't wary about flat out denying our clients. We know the implications. Denying does not necessarily result in client loss, but it's hardly good for the relationship. And at some point we do flat out deny anyway.

So here's suggestion: When you receive an offer you feel you have to accept but you're also conflicted because you should reject it on principle, instead of flat out rejecting or flat out accepting or allowing the situation to degenerate into a haggling or whining session — use the 'next time' way out.

Specifying some conditions for the 'next time' allows you to avoid refusing your client but also allows you to avoid sacrificing your own position or principles. It also shows your client you're someone who is reasonable but at the same time to be taken seriously.

Incidentally, just throw some old-fashioned hard work with good results in the mix, and it probably won't be exaggerating to say the image of the quintessential professional pretty much paints itself. On a basic level, one doesn't need much more.

When the next time comes, however, do be consistent. There is no more next time, because the next time is now. You can still show yourself as a reasonable person capable of compromise, but some things need to change, and that change needs to take things closer to where they should be.

So don't worry, meeting your client halfway is not a defeat. It just shows you're civilized, considerate and patient and have a hard time completely prioritizing your own interests over someone else's. That's the stuff of which good relationships are made. But, continue to expect and demand things to continue to move forward in the right direction.

Don't worry if you meet with resistance. Some people will test you to avoid being the sucker who pays the first quoted price that nobody else's is paying. They'll need some assurance that's not what is happening. And that may take some arguing about your initial quotes, first proposals, etc.

If the client says there's no room to move — 'as much as we'd like to, we just can't' — try to look for a compromise solution, a give-and-take. Better conditions for the client, better conditions for you. Reciprocity. Equivalence. Balance. You may want to read my post about non-financial terms.

If the client gives you a flat no, take it or leave it, you may want to be more proactive in considering that perhaps you should in fact leave it. Which may in fact be another test.

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