You won the pitch. You had it nailed. You were ready for this pitch way before your client ever asked. You feel like congratulations are in order. Then your client asks for the budget. You work diligently and come up with a number—the number it takes to get the job done. Then your client says those dreaded words “I can get this from another top law firm for less”.
Once your client lets you know they want to work with you, they want the best price they can get from you. This is the opening salvo in the price negotiation. Attorneys tell me their immediate reaction is to try to figure out how to cut the price—and most clients know they can get something shaved off. But remember, they want to work with you. It’s nothing personal—it’s all business. Just like Michael in the Godfather.
Aside from immediately lowering your price, you can use 1 of 6 different answers to not only save your rates—but articulate your value and have clients feel even better about working with you:
“I put together a world class team—let’s go through the whole thing together and see what we can change”
“In my enthusiasm I may have over-scoped it—let’s go over it together to fine tune this down to
where it needs to be”
“Let’s sit down and see what we don’t need here”
“Why don’t we re-budget the first phase—and then we will be in a better position to develop a final budget”
“Where do we need to be?”
“Should we be talking about a fixed fee?”
These responses all bring your client into the process. You take out the confrontation and cede control to your client. This is a rare opportunity to illustrate exactly how savvy your approach is and a chance to brainstorm to develop new ideas—a key insight clients always value.
We recommend role playing these scenarios. Work with someone in BD, a peer partner, your Executive Director, CFO, or an ex GC. Conduct mock negotiations. Practice curve balls and unexpected responses. This preparation is as important as the actual response. Your confidence in your negotiations will show your confidence in your proposed approach and fee—and this does nothing but increase your value.
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