Negotiating with clients

What is profit if it costs job satisfaction? Ruth discusses the dilemma of choosing who you would prefer to work and marrying it with who pays the best.


Transcript: Negotiating With Clients In Business

Q: So I've got a business of several clients, but two major clients...

A: What do you do?

Q: We market films on Facebook. The problem is, the first major client turned around and said: 'We don't want you working with anyone else'.

A: Ooh, I hate that.

Q: The second major client says: 'We love working with you, in fact we've got loads of ideas we want to be going on with.' So we're kind of stuck.

A: Exclusivity is very powerful, but limiting. When somebody's really, really, really famous, they want you to work for them for nothing. Because they turn around and they say: 'Well actually Ruth, for you to work for us is great for your brand, great for your reputation, great for this.' And I say: 'But it's not great for my bank balance.'

So you've got to look at your customer and say: 'Which one do I prefer to work with?' Because the conversation has to be open, transparent and honest, because they have got to pay you for that exclusivity, and that's the key thing here. And you know, if they're saying to you: 'You're fantastic, you're wonderful, you're this, you're this, we want exclusivity,' Then: 'Okay, we need to sit down and discuss terms,' and not 'Well actually I wanna discuss terms because I've got them and I've got them,' because that says to me, they're just gonna say: 'We beat any quote'. You go from one to the other to the other.

You know, you've got to get your mindset right: 'Who do I like working with the most? Who gives me the projects that actually fulfil my creativeness?' And then comes the conversation about money, because if somebody's trying to clip your wings now - are they going to buy your company?

Listen, it takes balls to be a business owner. It takes nerve, it takes all the things that your staff never see, because all the times that you wake up and you say: 'Oh my god, I've got all these staff and what happens if I don't pay them because something goes wrong? Am I missing out on this opportunity? What happens if my biggest customer...?' All these things that happen, you worry about them because you've got accountability.

They will take that accountability away in my opinion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an exclusivity on ideas or presentations, or concepts. That's standard to me.

The way you take them is you sit them down and you say, or you speak to them on the phone and say: 'Listen, unless you want to buy my business, because you can't scale it up, then actually what I'd like to do is come in and talk to you about an exclusivity.'

Give them six months. You'll know within the first two, three ideas whether you'll do it after that, and that's more flexible.

The most precious thing in business is time, because I can't buy it. I'm taking an educated guess that the ideas you've got are actually innovative and relevant, and the relevance of an idea goes backwards if you don't act upon it.

Who do you like working with? Which products, or should I say, which project for you is going to give you and your team, first of all commercial benefit, second of all freedom, and third of all pleasure. And I'm not joking, because my life is too short and my time is too precious to deal with people I don't like dealing with, and you'll never ever get the most from me, because you only actually do well when you're happy.

Q: The thing I took away was, so I've got two clients, one's, well there both great, but one wants to be exclusive, and rather than go into an awful lot of technical mumbo-jumbo about who to choose, it was all about: Which one do you like working with best? And because we're a very small company it's important that we enjoy working with them.

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