This past week I got in contact for an interview about negotiation and deal-making skills with Jason Overmyer. One of Mr Overmyer's professional responsibilities is been an event coordinator for the social worker industry. Read ahead and find out some of the negotiations technics that he uses when trying to close a deal.
Guillermo: When dealing with your clients, how do you handle positional bargaining? (Such as haggling)
Mr. Overmyer: My response to bargaining with clients typically comes from a place of negotiating, which always depends on the client and the service. Some services are not negotiable and are strictly fee for service, others can be negotiable, but I do not make that announcement ahead of time. If there is some value and investment in negotiating, such as perhaps a long term commitment or long-term contract with the client then negotiating an agreement is worth discussing. On the contrary, if it’s a one-time service its likely those services will not be negotiable. Another way bargaining and negotiating might be worth considering would be in the case of a hot topic that could likely bloom into some other business down the road. Therefore, in sum, I like to have some flexibility with my bargaining but also have some clear cut, fixed services that are not up for bargaining or negotiating.
Guillermo: How do you work towards mutual beneficial agreements when negotiating a deal?
Mr.Overmyer: First, I want to know what the desired outcome is from the client so that I am providing a service to meet their needs, not doing something that is for me. I want to make sure that it’s a good fit. I am open and honest about what I can do for them and if there are any limitations, I will put them on the table upfront. The last thing I want is to get into a contract or service, and have any ambiguity with the service. So I will draw up some type of informed consent: an explanation of the services and cost. I typically explain the cost of the service in addition to the cost of the labor (work) that goes into its production. I think it’s important not to exaggerate or inflate your own capabilities and also be sincere with what your opinion is on the service requested. I always provide options and alternatives if I think their ideas might be flawed or they need direction.
Guillermo: Have you ever encounter or use any dirty tricks in a negotiation?
Mr. Overmyer: Yes, I have encountered several incidents of clients attempting to negotiate outside of a legal contract or avoid making a commitment in order to manipulate the agreement and possibly make some legal claim down the road that services were not provided to meet their needs.
I have also had a few clients negotiating with myself and other agencies simultaneously in an attempt to peace meal some deal together for a cheaper cost. When I become aware of that, I usually set boundaries with them and suggest they look for services elsewhere. I do not want my agency being part of that process.
Guillermo: How do you use objective criteria to negotiate better agreements?
Mr. Overmyer: I think we have a flexible but firm fee schedule that typically is not open for negotiating unless like I said earlier there is some long term investment or special circumstance. We also try and keep data from our clients who had success with us. We provide satisfaction surveys and opportunities for exit interviews after the job has been completed to improve performance over the long term and to demonstrate performance to new customers. We also provide a comparison review of the other agencies that provide similar services in regards to their cost, outcomes, and performance so they will have some context with our agency. We show that are agency is cost effective, provides a unique service and far exceeds satisfaction from competitors.