Do you freak out when you hear the word negotiation? Most people do. Very few people are natural born negotiators. We hate conflict and rejection. But if you are a business owner, you will likely have to face some type of negotiation.
The most important thing in a negotiation is “value”. Your clients need to see your value. Savvy lawyers know that everything is negotiable; so, they are going to ask you for a discount. But lowering your fees is a sure way to degrade your professionalism. It is very unlikely that an attorney or law firm is going to back out of a contract with you because you did not give them a discount.
The best way to handle a client who asks for a discount is to stick to your fees for the current project and offer discounts based on volume for future assignments.
You need to focus your negotiation on the benefits of your services. Your clients want to know how your services can help them increase their bottom line.
- If you use the latest technology, let your clients know.
- If you have testimonials from current or past clients include them in your marketing materials.
- Show a comparison between your services and the services of other virtual paralegals and staff paralegals.
- Guarantee your services to your clients. If you fail to provide the quality service you promised, your clients should not have to pay you.
- Outline all the ways you will be saving your clients money while providing excellent service.
As a virtual paralegal, you should be able to save your clients significantly in their over-head costs because your client won’t have to provide you with the following as they often do for their full-time and part-time staff.
- Computer equipment, software or office supplies
- Ongoing educational enrichment and training
- Health care benefits, dental and eye care benefits, life insurance or disability insurance
- Employer social security taxes
- Retirement packages or 401(K)s
- Worker's compensation insurance
- Overtime, vacation, or sick day wages
- Employee "down-time"; i.e. bathroom breaks, socializing, drink breaks, cigarette breaks, etc.
However, you must factor the cost of your over-head including healthcare, retirement and office supplies among other things when setting your fees.
Be mindful that all your fees must be fair and most importantly, your entire fee agreements must be in writing before you start your clients’ projects.