Let’s talk about worst-case negotiation scenarios for a change.
The rule is: Never attempt to negotiate while hungry.
This is important, on two levels.
- There is literally research that shows hungry negotiators being more entitled (attaching more ego cost to outcomes) and getting worse outcomes as a result.
- While you are metaphorically hungry, as in you have an “I have to win this one” mentality, it’s unwise to even try getting a better deal. Even if what is offered sounds unfair, if you need it to survive, take what you can right now and wait for the opportune moment to get a better deal later.
Taking a bad deal is not a sign of weakness, as even untrained clients will often feel what Blair Enns calls “the smell of desperation” on you, reducing your chances of projecting confidence, leading some of them to push even more.
Nobody can be effective with their back against the wall. If you really feel that not getting the project will not just hurt, but destroy you in a way, don’t risk it.
As you take what you can get, try not to commit 100% of your entire working time to it. Leave at least a little time in your week which you can later use to get a new client at a higher rate, and thus strengthen yourself financially until you can use that reserve to liberate yourself from the bad deal you were forced into.
If you are wondering how to do that, here’s a short video.