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NotAllThere
8th October 2008, 16:49
It occurs to me that I'm extremely good at my job, but, in common with many other contractors, I'm pretty poor at negotiation.

What would be fairly good would be someone who, for a fee, or a percentage, would negotiate for us. It's supposed to be the agency, but seeing as we often don't know the clients rate, they're usually somewhat less transparent than, say, 20 lightyears thickness of lead.

The only difficulty is - how would we know that they'd got a better rate for us?

otoh, we often find out the agents mark up during the course of our negotiations, so perhaps that would be time?

thunderlizard
8th October 2008, 17:20
I am presently looking at hiring somebody to help me out with that side of things. Not the whole negotiation, but just to provide some backup. Bigger companies can get away with saying "xxx isn't our policy" or "I'll have to check with my boss" and I'd like to be able to do that too.

TykeMerc
8th October 2008, 17:26
Any of the real Project Managers that lurk on CUK should be able to help you. A noticable part of proper PM work is managing the commercial concerns of the client or supplier.

The real question would be who would help you to negotiate the rate with your negotiator? I for one wouldn't be cheap :D

thunderlizard
8th October 2008, 17:28
That is the avenue I'm exploring. The difficult bit is getting one of them to work ideally PAYE for a few ad-hoc hours every 3 months.

TykeMerc
8th October 2008, 17:33
That is the avenue I'm exploring. The difficult bit is getting one of them to work ideally PAYE for a few ad-hoc hours every 3 months.

I could do that for you although I wouldn't do it on a PAYE basis unless there was an overriding benefit. Why not use a normal B2B consultancy relationship with a simple invoice?

TheVoice
8th October 2008, 17:45
Bigger companies can get away with saying "xxx isn't our policy" or "I'll have to check with my boss" and I'd like to be able to do that too.

It's not "getting away" - it's running their business their way. Which is what more of us contractors need to start doing. Agencies would have to spice themselves up a bit if more people started to do things the proper way rather than accepting sloppy seconds.

Obviously, this doesnt apply to those of us on this forum eh? We're all clued in to doing it the right way ;)

expat
8th October 2008, 17:50
It occurs to me that I'm extremely good at my job, but, in common with many other contractors, I'm pretty poor at negotiation.

What would be fairly good would be someone who, for a fee, or a percentage, would negotiate for us. It's supposed to be the agency, but seeing as we often don't know the clients rate, they're usually somewhat less transparent than, say, 20 lightyears thickness of lead.

The only difficulty is - how would we know that they'd got a better rate for us?

otoh, we often find out the agents mark up during the course of our negotiations, so perhaps that would be time?It's not supposed to be the agency who negotiate for us, in the current business model. Never imagine that they are your agents. They are the clients' agents, and you are the punter (that's the polite word). That's why they are not transparent: it's none of your business.

Of course you could get an agent, showbiz-style, who finds you contracts and takes 10%. But if the people he finds contracts from are agencies, not clients, then you just have 2 agents in the chain, rather than 1.

What is needed there is to persuade clients to deal without agents. Or you accept that your client is the agent, and the end client is not whom you deal with. In that case, get an agent of your own, who will beat down the clients' agents enough to earn his fee. But indeed, how to know?

I take the point that there is negotiation to be done, and most of us are bad at that: that's why few agents are contractors, and vice versa: success in our respective fields demands completely different personality types. When it comes to computers, our type can do it; but when it comes to negotiation, agent types thrash us. On top of which, they know the market better than we do, because they keep testing it. So maybe having your own agent would pay for itself. It reminds me of Dave Crosby, talking of when Crosby Stills & Nash got together. He said that they realised that they'd then be playing in the big leagues, and the big leagues in music are a shark pool. So, he said, we thought we'd better have our own shark. (Enter aggressive and successful impresario David Geffen).

Maybe we do need our own sharks.

expat
8th October 2008, 17:51
Any of the real Project Managers that lurk on CUK should be able to help you. A noticable part of proper PM work is managing the commercial concerns of the client or supplier.

The real question would be who would help you to negotiate the rate with your negotiator? I for one wouldn't be cheap :DI'm not cheap either, but I'm worth it. Would you be? Worth it = save more than you cost.

Spacecadet
8th October 2008, 17:54
It occurs to me that I'm extremely good at my job, but, in common with many other contractors, I'm pretty poor at negotiation.

What would be fairly good would be someone who, for a fee, or a percentage, would negotiate for us. It's supposed to be the agency, but seeing as we often don't know the clients rate, they're usually somewhat less transparent than, say, 20 lightyears thickness of lead.

The only difficulty is - how would we know that they'd got a better rate for us?

otoh, we often find out the agents mark up during the course of our negotiations, so perhaps that would be time?

the problem with negotiating with an agency like this is that they have the upper hand.
They know what the client is willing to pay
They will probably have another contractor in reserve in case things don't work out with you
They can afford to say no

I've said it before... efforts should be made into going direct, agencys used only as a backup incase no direct work can be found.
Personally I would rather take a lower paying direct contract over an agency role (within reason of course) just to help cut the middlemen out of the picture.

thunderlizard
8th October 2008, 18:49
It's not "getting away" - it's running their business their way. Which is what more of us contractors need to start doing.

well, maybe I was oversarcastic in saying "get away with". But "company policy" just means "somebody in the company decided to do it this way". And when EDS says "this is our policy", it somehow feels more immutable than when I say it on behalf of my company. When I say "this is our company policy", half the time the client says "oh come off it, that just means it's what you decided and you could just as easily un-decide it": but the same client buckles in the face of other suppliers' "policy".

Tensai
8th October 2008, 19:05
Any of the real Project Managers that lurk on CUK should be able to help you.

Negotiation with suppliers is rarely just on price. The trick is to look at all the T's and C's and figure out where the manoeuvrability is. Which of these (for example) would you like to get if you couldn't get a rate increase;

- Working from home more frequently
- Occasional paid flights home or better accomodation (if expat)
- Getting paid more quickly (less applicable if via an agency, I agree)
- Performance bonuses for faster delivery

You get the idea. Most negotiations break down because they concentrate too much on price.

My 2p's worth.

NotAllThere
8th October 2008, 19:15
Negotiation with suppliers is rarely just on price. The trick is to look at all the T's and C's and figure out where the manoeuvrability is. Which of these (for example) would you like to get if you couldn't get a rate increase;

- Working from home more frequently
- Occasional paid flights home or better accomodation (if expat)
- Getting paid more quickly (less applicable if via an agency, I agree)
- Performance bonuses for faster delivery

You get the idea. Most negotiations break down because they concentrate too much on price.

My 2p's worth.

I do get the idea. Why is why it would be really good if I could find a way of having someone who can really negotiate for me.

The problem is that agent, who are ideally placed to do this, well, it really isn't in their interest. How can we arrange things so that the people who are in a positiion to aid us this way can make money?

Tensai
8th October 2008, 19:34
I do get the idea. Why is why it would be really good if I could find a way of having someone who can really negotiate for me.

The problem is that agent, who are ideally placed to do this, well, it really isn't in their interest. How can we arrange things so that the people who are in a positiion to aid us this way can make money?

1) stating the bleeding obvious, in the current climate your room for manoeuvre is limited, it's a buyers market
2) professional negotiators will take a % of whatever they can get above your minimum target rate, which is likely (IMHO) to be more than an agent's margin
3) rule 1 of negotiation : you need to be willing and able to walk away from the deal (which isn't always on option - see (1) above.)

mailric
8th October 2008, 20:06
1. Decide what you want, stick to it and walk away if you don't get it.

Exception: If your desperate, accept whatever they offer.

Stan.goodvibes
9th October 2008, 04:37
well, maybe I was oversarcastic in saying "get away with". But "company policy" just means "somebody in the company decided to do it this way". And when EDS says "this is our policy", it somehow feels more immutable than when I say it on behalf of my company. When I say "this is our company policy", half the time the client says "oh come off it, that just means it's what you decided and you could just as easily un-decide it": but the same client buckles in the face of other suppliers' "policy".

When the client starts to say 'oh come off it' just cut him off by pushing the palm of your hand really close to his face and saying 'Speak the the Hand!'

Works every time.

just my 2c worth...

Beefy198
9th October 2008, 20:58
2) professional negotiators will take a % of whatever they can get above your minimum target rate, which is likely (IMHO) to be more than an agent's margin


Surely some basic maths will also prove that it wouldn't be in their interests to push hard for a much bigger increase anyway? The extra effort and work for an increase, unless significantly large, don't justify the extra money they would make. It's the way percentage cuts work and why an estate agent won't always work in the seller's interests.