8 min read

How to negotiate freelance contracts over the phone

Want to get a better deal when negotiating with clients on the phone. Here's all you need to know.
How to negotiate freelance contracts over the phone

If you want to close high-ticket deals with potential clients, you have to get on the phone with them.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Very few people part with thousands of dollars when they’ve not spoken to the person providing the service.

Thankfully, it’s now incredibly easy for you to jump on calls with clients and figure out if, and how, you can best help them improve their business.

I use Zoom for all client and coaching student calls.

There’s a free level of Zoom which will allow you to host unlimited single person calls and group meetings up to 40 minutes.

If you splurge on the incredibly reasonable $11.99 / month fee you can host up to 100 people in a meeting with no time limits.

The other things I love about Zoom are that it…

  • Integrates directly with Calendly for easy scheduling of calls (more on that in a minute).
  • Allows you to record your calls to the cloud or your computer. This means you can review negotiations to see how you can improve.
  • Everyone now uses it making it the go-to solution for small business owners.
  • It’s insanely easy to use.

If you’ve not yet got a Zoom account, do yourself a favour and sign up now.

It makes negotiating higher fees so easy even a child could do it.

One thing I feel I have to mention here is that these phone calls are not pressurised sales pushes.

You’re not trying to sell your service or force someone to hire you.

In fact, if you organise your calls well, you shouldn’t have to do much convincing because both you and your client will know that this is a natural fit.

Much like the cold email part of this process, you have to put the idea of “closing the sale” out of your mind for a while.

Your job here is to be a problem solver.

On the call you are trying to figure out what it is the client is struggling with and if you can help.

If you can help, you’re gonna offer some free ideas for them to run with.

Which, if done well, will show them your value and make them want to work with you.

I can’t go into the full script here (you can buy the script I teach people here though), but the general flow of the script is…

  1. Break the ice
  2. Take control of the conversation and outline what it is you’re aiming to achieve on the call
  3. Find out what they want to achieve with their business
  4. Find out what they’ve tried that hasn’t worked
  5. Pose a few potential ideas if you think you can help
  6. Pitch your service to them if you think you can get them results

Sales doesn’t have to be scummy and high-pressure. The best sales are made off the back of free advice and an understanding that you’re trying to help.

So be the person who’s trying to help.

If you can, the sale will come naturally.

If you’re scared about knowing what to say on the call, then check out Make Them Want You.

This is my mini-course on phone negotiation that includes a full script and the process you’ll need to land top-tier clients.

It’s, again, pay-what-you-want. But there’s a minimum fee of $20.

Get the phone negotiation script and process I use to consistently close high-ticket deals here

Easily scheduling your client negotiations

There’s nothing worse than email ping-pong with potential leads.

“Can you do Wednesday at 5?”

“Nope. How about Thursday at 1?”

And so on and so forth.

It’s much easier to say “Hey, here’s my calendar, book a slot that works for you”.

Which is exactly what Calendly does for you.

When someone responds to one of your email templates saying they’d like to talk things over, you simply send them a link that redirects to a page that looks like this one.

You set your availability, and the other person can simply book a time that works for them.

It makes it so much easier to organise calls with clients.

The best bit is, Calendly is free for you to send a single event type. If you want to run multiple event types, then you’re gonna have to shell out the super reasonable cost of around $10 / month.

Which is more than worth it as it makes getting clients on the phone so much easier and reduces the friction that could lead to a lost engagement.

Also, if you pay for Calendly, you’re able to link it directly with Zoom so the meeting time they book automatically has a Zoom room created for it.

That Zoom invite is added to the confirmation so you don’t have to worry about sorting out the details.

Win-win.

Again, if you want some tips from years of use, check out Make Them Want You.

It’s available on a pay-what-you-want (with minimum price of $20) and will run you through the correct setup for Claendly, Zoom, and give you the script you need to close more deals.  

Get my 6-figure negotiation script and process here

Covering your arse with a solid freelance contract

Any freelancer worth their salt will tell you that you should never work without a contract.

  • I mean, you wouldn’t rent a house without a tenancy agreement, right?
  • You wouldn’t lease a car without proper paperwork.
  • You wouldn’t start a new job without an employment contract.

Any time goods or services are being exchanged for cash their needs to be a contract or receipt.

And for freelancers, this is no different. Whether you’re working on a $50 piece or a $50,000 project, you need to have a contract.

I know that this scares many freelancers cause they think this is some form of a super complex legal issue.

Which it kinda is. But it’s nothing to be worried about.

A contract is, in effect, a written agreement. It simply needs to list the kind of work you’re doing and the expected payment. Of course there are other elements to this, but that’s the heart of it.

If you just wanna get it done and not have to worry about all the details, I highly recommend a freelance contract tool.

And in my opinion, one of the best out there is And.Co.

With And.Co you can simply plug a few basic details into a quick 30 second form and it will create a contract for you.

Here’s how to set up your freelance contract in And.Co.

After you sign up for an account (you can try this with one client for free), you’ll see the below screen.

First up, you want to follow the basic steps to get your business set up.

Click the big button on the left to go through a handful of super self-explanatory screens (seriously, And.Co have made this incredibly easy to use).

You’ll need to…

  • Outline your level of experience
  • Upload your logo
  • Choose your colour scheme
  • Set up your business address info

With that done, you’ll find yourself on this screen.

What I’d recommend here is you set up your first client.

You’ll be asked to add their details before being redirected to the main dashboard.

Once you've done that, click “contracts” on the left to see this screen.

Click “New contract” and follow the on screen prompts.

You’ll need to select the client and when the contract starts.  When you click on the client it will pull from your list of clients (which is why we added your client first).

Then, you’ll need to detail the service you’re providing and the fee.

List out the service this particular client is paying for with a short description of what it entails.

When you add that detail, make sure that you’re specific and only include what the client is paying for.

If you’re vague and leave things open ended, you could fall prey to scope creep.

So, rather than saying something like “will help with writing”, you want to say “will produce one blog article of X000 words. This contract includes 2 rounds of revisions for the agreed upon price”.

When that’s done, you’ll need to explain how you want to take payment.

Always get a deposit up front.

It minimised the chance of the client running without paying.

I always do a 50% up front fee and a 50% completion fee upon acceptance.  Pick the fee schedule that works for you and move on to the next step.

Upon initial setup you’ll be asked to link your payment provider. You want to add one of these because it means the client will be able to pay you directly from the contract.

Personally, I prefer Stripe. But Paypal is also a great way to get paid online.

Click what you prefer and follow the steps to sync your account.

Once you’ve linked your payment provider, you’ll be able to edit the contract.

If you’re only using the free account I believe you have to edit this every single time (which is a real pain in the arse).

It’s already good as a placeholder and likely OK for brand new freelancers, but you’ll eventually want to customise the terms to include everything I mention in this piece.

Confirm the contract when you’re happy with it and send it to the client.

The client will get an email like the below.

When they click review docs, they’ll be able to see the contract you created.  And, if they agree, they’ll be given the option to pay right then as well.

But the best bit, you get email updates about whether they’ve viewed, signed, and paid.  So you know exactly where you stand.

The contract service here really is one of the best that I’ve seen and it makes it so easy. However, And.Co does so much more.

With And.Co you can also handle...

  • Work proposals for big engagements
  • Invoices with an included “pay now” link making invoicing an chasing payments super easy
  • Subscription payments for easier handling of your monthly retainer clients
  • Time tracking - great if the client ever disputes an hourly rate or if you simply want to track your own hourly profitability

Most importantly though, And.Co offers peace of mind.

It is, without doubt, the best invoice, contract, and proposal software I’ve ever used or seen.

You can sign up for a free account to try it out here. Careful though, cause if you try it out I know you’re gonna sign up for the paid account - which is actually really reasonable at $18 / month.  

Grab a free And.Co account today