Weds 3 Apr 2024 11:00am UK time

Client negotiation in an agency is a bit like buying a car – you need to ask as many questions as possible before finalising the deal.

A lot of negative connotations come with the concept of negotiation. Some people assume that it’s this scary, super-aggressive process, but the truth is rather different.

“A lot of negotiation is about understanding and questioning. You have to really get into the weeds of what the other party is looking for, what their constraints are, and what success looks like for them,” says Jeremy McDonald, CEO of Kaizen.

“You don’t have to go into a room and stare them down,” he continues. “Most of it is done via email; you have people playing good cop and bad cop. You just have to know your role.”

So, what is Jeremy’s three-step guide to negotiation?

  1. Active questioning. Understand the other party’s position, needs, and constraints. Ask ‘why’ questions to uncover underlying issues or requirements, like budget changes or managerial directives.
  2. Putting in your offer. This might also involve getting them to submit an offer or proposal too, providing a foundation for negotiation.
  3. Finding middle ground.This part involves a bit of give-and-take, and may require both sides to hardball initially.

“Never be afraid to walk away, either,” says Jeremy. “Even if it’s artificial walking away. You can say, ‘Look, we either do this or it’s not going to work for us,’ and if they say no, you can still go back. It’s mildly embarrassing, but it doesn’t really matter in the long term.”

We’ll be joined by Jeremy to discuss how he’s mastered the art of negotiation, some of his best tactics, and why it isn’t something you need to be afraid of.