The first thing to understand about defending your price is that it’s psychological. Don’t get back in touch with the client until you know you’re ready to defend your price. When you’re confident in yourself and the research you’ve done for the job it will be harder for the client to talk you down in price, and easier for you to persuade them that you’re the best person for the job. But most importantly, it will give you the confidence and courage to let the job go, and not accept bad terms if it comes to that. Sometimes the best word in negotiations is No.

To defend your price put yourself in the place of the client; what are they going to ask you? It’s best to get on the phone with them or meet face-to-face if possible even if you’ve already sent the estimate off. Connecting with the client will allow for that continued dialog and gives you the opportunity to sell yourself again.

In today’s world of back and forth over email or social media this can be difficult. Often times either you, the client, or both are more at ease with the “comfortable distance” that communicating electronically offers. You also might have clients who will only communicate with you over email. And while all this may be true still nothing beats working through negotiations with your clients over the phone or in a face-to-face environment.

If the client says your estimate is too high it’s your turn to ask questions. Ask them why they think it’s a lot of money? You can’t defend your price when you don’t know what the objection is.

Another response might be to restate to them the uses they’ve requested. If they’re going to use the photo in a national ad for six months AND you’ve already done your homework on what the magazine charges for ad space you’ll be able to discuss what your whole shoot is going to cost in comparison to the media buy. Typically your shoot will be a very small percentage by comparison. When you’re talking about something like 2% of the budget it’s harder to justify making cuts.

Note: For those clients with a budget for ad production a general rule of thumb for national advertising is that the production should cost about 10% of the paid media advertising.*

Follow up by asking what things the client wants to consider cutting in an effort to bring the costs down. Is it talent, equipment rental, assistants, location? Usually the client doesn’t want to cut these things because they’ll perceive the cuts to lower the quality of the shoot. So they ask you to cut your fees. This is when you explain to them that the reason they selected you for the job is the quality of your work, and you deserve to be paid fairly for it.

Try not to cut your fees, but if you have to you can refer to the Stock Coach topic in fotoQuote on Lowering Your Price.
You might say, “I never cut my fees because this is what this shoot is worth.” They benefit from your expertise during the shoot and have the ability to talk with you before and after the shoot. Let them know how much time you spent preparing for the shoot, the advice you gave throughout the project and how you made their shoot your first priority. You need to explain to the client the added value they get in working with you and the quality images you provide them.

Both fotoQuote® and fotoBiz include pricing tips in the Coach Section of the programs.

Learn More: Other Blogs on the Art of Negotiation:

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