People like to say that “time is gold”, yet few seem to heed these words. If time really is gold, then maybe it’s time to put a stop to trading time for money. Christine McKay gets into a conversation with the founder and president of Enlightened Marketing, a business advisor, and podcaster, Samantha Hartley. Samantha discusses why you need to transition from hourly payments to outcome-based payments and the benefits of doing so. She also discusses the need to choose clients and jobs that fit you and your skills. The need for negotiation and positive confrontation are also discussed. If you’re looking to pivot your business into a new direction but don’t know where to start, then give grab some tips here.
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Stop Negotiating Time For Money With Samantha Hartley
We have with us, Samantha Hartley. She came to me from a good friend named Patty Lawrence who has introduced me to these remarkable people. Samantha works with Patty as one of her clients. I have watched Patty’s business go from 0 to 60 like crazy. She has grown fast. Patty signed one of our largest clients ever in history. Samantha has been instrumental in helping her do that. I’m excited to have Samantha on the show to share with us some of the things that she has learned along her route. She works with consultants who are stuck, trying to grow, or trying to transition.
She helps them multiply their revenues without exhaustion by working with perfect clients on transformational engagements so they can have profitable, joyful consultancies. She hosts a podcast called Profitable Joyful Consulting, which I was on and I’m super excited about that. She lives in Martha’s Vineyard, which is gorgeous if you have never been. I love that she gets to live there all the time. She lives there with her husband and their furry kids. How many furry kids do you have? Welcome.
Thank you so much. I have a big dog, medium dog, and cat.No matter what time you had at your job, never burn your bridges because a lot of times that place you left will end up being your first client. Click To Tweet
I’m excited to have you on the show. I have loved every conversation you and I have had.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Tell us about your journey. How did you get to this point?
I have an unexpected beginning with leaving college, doing Liberal Arts and the Russian Language. I went overseas to Russia. While I was there, I ended up getting hired by the Coca-Cola Company and that launched my international marketing career. That was many moons ago. I was there at their corporate offices. I didn’t have a good time at corporate because it’s all about politics and not about work. I left and went on my own. I had been an internal consultant for that company. A lot of my first clients were my colleagues who had worked there too, which why I always say, “No matter what time you had at your job, never burn your bridges because a lot of times that place you left will end up being your first client and all of those colleagues that you had fraught relationships can turn into your clients.”
That launched my consulting business. Over the years, I have worked with many different businesses, brick and mortar, manufacturing because I came out of manufacturing. I was with the bottling company with Coke for a while. Also, all service businesses, mom-and-pop, startups because they have seen the inside of so many businesses over twenty years when people tell me their story, it’s like, “I understand the uniqueness of you as a beautiful snowflake. I also see the connections to many other businesses.” I’m able to make observations that for some people are accurate and I’m like, “Yes, but.” The fact is I have been in the middle of insight into so many businesses. It’s like, “What you are experiencing is familiar. I have seen it before.”
People are snowflakes and so unique but companies and the issues that they face and people ask me this all the time as a negotiator, “What do you focus on? Do you do real estate? Do you do tech?” I’m like, “No, because the process is the same in negotiation. I don’t care what the industry is. If I don’t know, then I find the resources to gain it about the industry and get specific about that but it’s the process.” When you are in businesses, you see the overlap and it’s astonishing, then people say to me, “You don’t understand my industry because it’s different.” I’m like, “No.”
I work almost exclusively now with consultants, whether they are working B2B, small businesses or multibillion–dollar corporations. The funny thing is that a lot of consultants fear being asked, “Do you ever worked with my business before?” They were like, “What if I haven’t?” If I only had one business in twenty years, say, “Have you ever worked with someone like us before?” It was a community bank. I said, “If you want to be the best bank you can be, I’m sure you can bring in some banking consultant but if you want to be the best business you can be, that’s what I’m going to help you to do.” They were like, “Sold.” It depends on what their goals are.
Tell us a little bit about how you work with your clients? I have watched Patty’s transformation in her business and it is impressive. I’m curious because there are many negotiation points along that journey that has exponential growth quickly.
I have been working with Patty for a long time. When she first came to me, she did one of those little home study courses that I offered. What was interesting about her and you will notice in your perfect clients is that she implements like crazy. It was a home study course but there were Q&A calls. She got on every single call and then she would implement. There were many other people with smaller businesses than Patty’s who couldn’t be bothered to get on the calls and to take advantage of those benefits. I knew early on that she is somebody who’s going to be successful.
A little while after that, she came to me and we started to work one-on-one together. One of the things that she was doing in her business was working by the hour. She’s a virtual CFO, doing services for her clients and charge them by the hour. The average client size was about $3,000. I helped her transition away from hourly because when you are charged by the hour, you are penalized for efficiency. Your clients are hesitant to call you because they don’t want the meter running every time they do. It costs them more money, discourages them from taking advantage of your genius. I don’t understand how you bill for the time when you’ve got a great idea in the shower or while you are out on a hike. Do you charge them for that? This is confusing to me.
Hourly billing is completely inappropriate for consultants and consultancies. We began to transition and she charged for outcomes. She was like, “Here’s what your business is going to be, when we are done, throughout working with us, this is what we are going to get you to.” That’s what she sold so that’s an outcome. I worked with her to develop those outcomes with her clients, how to communicate with them. Now she’s charging more like $10,000 or $11,000 a month to these clients who are working with her. It may sound time-based by charging them by the month but it’s charging them for the outcomes that she’s getting them. That exemplifies the work I do with consultants because when they come to me, usually they are so busy with client work they will max out.
It seems that they are successful but they are stuck because they can’t grow anymore. I have had several clients come to me and say, “We are exhausted. We don’t have any place for more clients to go, which is why I promise that they can grow with that exhaustion.” They are like, “I know that we can work harder. We could work even more nights and weekends but that’s not going to make them happy.” We transitioned the way they work. It’s not always hourly but it’s very often. There are a lot of trading time for money. They are very often not charging for the outcomes that they can achieve for the client. They are undercharging relative to what they can get.
I had a client who came to me, Carrie. She is an IT consultant who has a small firm, a partner and with 5 or 6 employees. They were doing about 750,000 when they came to me but the same thing charges them about an hour. The problem is when you have a team of people logging those hours and showing them to the client, I was like, “Did the client ask you to show that to them?” They were like, “That’s how it’s done in our industry.” I was like, “Here’s a new phrase for you. We don’t work that way. That’s not how we work.” We transitioned away from that.
They started working for outcomes and said, “Here’s the outcome we are going to get for you. Here’s the timeline for getting that outcome. Here’s what we are going to charge you.” They have even had some clients say to them, “I wish everybody worked that way.” Instead of this tracking hours and being inside the work, they get to say, “How do we get that outcome? How can we achieve that more efficiently?” Speaking of negotiation selling that to the client, that’s a new thing. It takes courage to completely try a new thing but this is a courageous client and they did it. They felt it doubled their business working with me.
One of the things that people do in negotiation all the time and if they are working with a bigger company is like, “This is how we do it.” There’s no logic behind it. I learned many years ago not to ask the question why ever in any situation. It’s a horrible question. I make no apologies to Simon Sinek when you are reading this episode, don’t give a damn about your why but care about your whats and hows. It’s a lot more than your why. In a negotiation, when you ask somebody, “Why?” Often the response back is, “Because.” You can’t do anything with it because. No action can take place on a because then you would get into what I call faith-based versus fact-based negotiation because it’s a faith–based thing. You can’t do anything with it.
You take that part of it out of it and give people permission to be curious and explore other possibilities and other ways of doing business, which is an awesome thing. How do we make this relationship better? Which is what negotiation being all about. The other thing you do is you redefined what value is you have made a value that’s tangible to your client’s clients. How do we turn time into a product? I do that for our Venn Negotiation Pro Services. We try to do as much of our work as we can be based on the successful outcome of a negotiation.
We charge based on that outcome, which is a very different model than what an attorney does. They are charging by the minute. What things have you encountered with your clients as you have had to give them to negotiate with themselves, to get over that hurdle? To your last example saying, “That’s not how it’s done in our industry.” A lot of consultants say to me, “I don’t negotiate,” but this is an example right here, everybody, of what Samantha’s talking about. She’s had to negotiate with her clients to get them over this hurdle to think about how to do something differently.
Every day there’s something that we negotiate. It’s like, “Can I get myself to do this difficult thing that I have to do?” It’s a great point that the first people I have to convince that this is a possibility are my clients. They have to be sold on this before they can go and attempt it. In Carrie’s case, she and her partner sat and we did this on a VIP day in a little conference room in New Orleans right before the pandemic hit. We talked the whole thing through. I was like, “The way that you are working is penalizing you.” Also, from the client’s point of view, they had this like up, down expenses because sometimes there would be a month that would be $10,000, $50,000 and $25,000.
That’s difficult for the client. I had finance say to me one time that “Even big companies hate lumpy expenses.” I thought that was helpful because you feel like, “They are big. They don’t care.” They don’t want to have this expenditure. My clients couldn’t schedule anybody’s work because people were there the whole month and they couldn’t be on something else. It was chaotic for both sides. I interview them about what’s not working about it then when they were like, “We can’t do that.” I’m like, “Here’s what you taught me,” then I tell it back to them and they were like, “That’s convincing.” I’m like, “I know because it was what you said.”
We worked through the reasons that what we are doing isn’t working. It’s not working for us and the client. There are other constituents like the people on the teams. Other people who it’s not working for. We get to look at, “Why is doing it a different way in everyone’s best interest?” People do want to have a shared outcome. They do want to be able to plan their time. Restructuring the work was good for everybody. This client is competitive and excited about sales. She’s a good example of somebody who, when she heard she was like, “I want to make that work,” and she did do it.
I have other clients who were more reticent. My client Cheryl came out of midsize manufacturing in Chicago. In her first year, she had done about 150,000 consulting with three clients. She said, “I feel like my business hat is a $2-million-year business.” I said, “I think so. Let’s build that.” The first year, what I wanted her to do was restructure who she worked with and how she worked with them if her clients were too small. If you don’t want to talk about negotiation, this is somebody who is, “Here’s what I was doing and I know that wasn’t working but what you are saying is big and scary.” That’s what she told me later.
We spent five months of the first year we worked together. I was like, “Now we are going to do this,” and I would meet with her and she hadn’t been done. Every single week I was like, “How come this isn’t happening?” We’ve got five months in. I said to her, “I’m not going to do anymore. We are doing some of the done marketing for you. I’m not going to do any marketing. We are not going to do anything. Everything is stopping until you go and sell a client.” I have heard her say what was preventing her. She was like, “I don’t know how to sell a client.” I was like, “You do.” Within a month, she had sold $200,000. In the next few months, she sold $600,000 in new business with this new model that we were working on.We step over all of the signals that some people are not going to be perfect clients and work with them anyway. Click To Tweet
The negotiation was that she was like, “I don’t know how to do it but I can’t do it. I’m convinced this is the right way.” She had everything she needed and it was this mindset hurdle of, “Can I do this?” She went to a conference for those who are like, “How did she do it?” She went to a conference where she is a rock star in her industry. Everybody was like, “What are you doing? What are you working on? You glow you.” She was like, “Here’s what I have going on, this and that.” She got a bunch of clients from that. The key here in the negotiation is knowing when the person is getting the individual, you, in this case, getting us to the point where we can say, “I believe in this enough that I can go and take a different action than I have ever taken before.”
That’s one of the things that I talk about in negotiation is getting clear on what it is you want. Once you have that clarity, it makes it so much easier to say yes or no if it’s not the right fit in terms of the types of clients that you want to work with. In terms of what their problems look like, what issues and what you can do? Do you enjoy this work? Is it fun? It gives you so much power to have that. I love that you helped her think that through and get over that hurdle because it’s hard to sell things when you don’t believe in them. For some people, they can sell anything to anybody. For most of us, we need to believe in what it is that we are selling. Even though we believe in ourselves, we may be trying to sell traditionally and that part doesn’t feel right to us. How do we modify it and adjust it in a way that works for us? That gives us more power at the negotiation table because it gives us the power to walk away if it’s not the right fit.
Clients have to be a perfect fit for you. In Cheryl’s case, this one I have been telling you about, the people and clients she had been working with were too small for her and she had big ideas. An important thing to pay attention to is if you feel like, “I’m never able to get my car out of second gear. I want to feel like what fifth gear feels like.” That feels like being able to do the whole model of what you do and bring down all of your intellectual property and implement it with your clients. You should feel like, “I’m doing all of my work and all my best work with this client.” If you are feeling like, “They needed a little tiny bit of what I do.”
That’s not as fulfilling. It isn’t that’s a bad client. It’s like they don’t fit as well as these that allow you to do so much more. That’s what we were looking for Cheryl. She had big ideas and had begun to bring these ideas into existence. She was still getting these divine downloads about what she wanted to do. This is in the era of human resources. She’s like, “How do I develop people? What’s my model and my system for these things?” It required clients who could use these services and not be too small.
I love working with small and mid-sized businesses but as part of why I have launched my Venn Masters program to serve smaller businesses because for them to hire me as a negotiator, it’s not, one, I’m probably more expensive than they can afford but two, it’s not as enjoyable for me because I enjoy negotiating complex transactions. I was parking a ring with a hedge fund to help them negotiate the deals that they are investing in. It’s such cool work. That goes to that clarity. What do you want? What type of clients do you want? What do you want them to be doing? What do you want your work to be doing?
That’s where you gain power because power and leverage is a conversation that comes up in negotiation all the time. People often have said to me, “I don’t have any.” I’m like, “That’s because you voluntarily chose to acquiesce it. You gave that up willingly.” You have the ultimate power in any negotiation is my second favorite word, which is no. No means no that in that situation but in the rest of the time, no is an invitation to ask a different question. Having that clarity and understanding of what that is that you want to be doing gives you that leverage, that power that you have and need to create the business that you want to create. We don’t have to serve everybody. Tell me about some times when the negotiation hasn’t been successful when you haven’t been able to get either yourself over one of those hurdles or your client over a hurdle like that.
My podcast episode is about how to fire a client. I was writing about when you are in situations where you are working with someone and it can’t go on. I was saying that I advocate for my clients to work exclusively with perfect clients. If you end up firing someone, it means that at one point, they seemed perfect or as close to perfect as possible. Do you know the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell?
He’s one of my favorite authors of all time.
What I love about that book is you can tell in 2.5 of footage, whether the doctor is going to get accused of malpractice. You can tell if this marriage is going to last. You can tell in that first meeting with a client, whether they are going to be perfect or not. We step over all of those things and signals that we had that they are not going to be perfect and to work with them anyway. We brush those things off. There are red flags and yellow flags. Probably they didn’t show any red flags. They showed yellow flags and it means that we have to use discernment and say, “I’m going to stand back and hesitate but I’m just going to think about it.” In my case, I chose to work with a client who I had heard some like, “Here are some caution things,” and I thought, “I will keep that in mind,” then there was some the project itself like I don’t normally do short-term projects but I thought, “It’s fun. It’s interesting and I think the short-term thing could turn into a long-term thing.”
Those are all the things that I told myself about this situation. We get into it and it’s the thing that gets out of hand. I wrote about examples where your contact at the client leaves and now you are dealing with the replacement. It’s not a priority for the replacement, then you were like, “Now, what do I do?” The good clients start ghosting. They disappear and there’s this mysterious fourth payment, the conclusion of the work and everybody is ghosting you. At some point, you have to say, “Let’s consider this terminated.”
I had that situation where I went into something with high hopes and then it did this thing that I thought, “We are going to have to call this three–quarters done.” That’s all we can do because I’m not more powerful than somebody else’s whatever’s going on. Self-sabotage, distraction, crisis. I don’t know what that is. I feel this is the thing that all of us have to realize and recognize. To me, those are the most painful ones because I had high hopes for them. I know my clients have been in the situation before where they were like, “This was a huge priority for the company and everybody was all excited about it.” Now I’m the only one excited because organizational priorities have changed.
The negotiation there is to maintain this thing as a priority like, “Remember when we started that this is what we wanted.” I have also seen that in sales, situations, and I have been working with some of my mastermind clients on this, where somebody seems interested in working with you, then they have to think about it and they disappear. They were trying to figure out, “How do I call that person back?” What I would say is in your discovery calls, when you are saying, “Here’s your dream. Here’s the thing that you want.” The only time I would ask why is like, “Why is that important to you?” How can we connect you to that thing? Here’s the path to that. Do you believe in the path to that?
Sometimes when they said, “I want that,” and now that has fallen away. To me, the negotiation is between saboteurs like where they sabotage by this, “Did the idea of achieving that freaked them out and then they had to go away. Did they make a different decision?” This is the thing that we always have to deal with. They feel like, “I don’t mind that you didn’t choose me as much as I mind that you don’t pursue that dream that you said was so important to you.” I can accept that they went with another choice and/or this is always my concern, “Did someone get to them?” Meaning, someone in their circle said, “That seems hard. I would hate for you to do that. That seems scary. Aren’t you scared?” Other people then talk them out of their dreams. Those are the times when things slip away.
One of the things that I often say is that, “A bad deal for you is a bad deal for me. I may not know it yet.” I have seen it when I worked at Deloitte Consulting. I would be excited about a project, about working with clients, then a client had changed. The priorities would shift. My enthusiasm then would get impacted. I enjoyed the project less. It would get into this downward spiral and then it would be like, “This doesn’t feel good. Why am I getting on a plane and not coming home for this project?”
You see it in marriages all the time. “A bad deal for you is a bad deal for me. I may not know it yet,” being open to that. Acknowledging that. It’s then permitting yourself to say, “That’s okay.” That’s okay in any negotiation. Separating and relationship is still a relationship. How you do that then how you manage that is still important. I love the firing client conversation. I have turned clients away from that this project doesn’t feel right or I have had a feeling about a person to Malcolm Gladwell’s. His book Talking To Strangers is also fascinating. I like it better than Blink.
Trusting that intuition more and listening to that inner voice because when we engage with people, we engage in emotion before we engage in logic. People would like to think it doesn’t work that way but it does work that way. We always think we are emotional creatures before we were logical creatures. When your gut is telling you something, that emotional piece is connecting with your logic because you have built all that experience over time. As Malcolm talks about, your got are saying, “Based on all those experiences that we have had, I’m telling you right now this is not going to be a good outcome.” Yet, we do, step over it, keep going, look back and we go, “I should have listened to that boy.”
That’s the real learning opportunity. This is why business is so much about personal development for the owner because you get to look back and say, “Why did I do that in this situation? Did I feel like I needed the money? Was I won over because it was referred to me by someone important to me? Did I feel like it’s a challenge? What were the things that caused me to not discern it?” In this case, I feel like, “I knew that it had the potential to go south,” and it did. It’s not that much of a surprise. What were my learnings and takeaways from that? That, to me is the key piece so that I don’t do that same mistake again in the future. That’s what I want to make sure of. Other than that, I want to be honing my intuition. As business owners and decision-makers, that’s the thing that we need to be doing. I’m a no blame, no shame person. I don’t blame myself, my team or my clients. I’m always like, “Let’s figure out what happened and why that happened without blaming or shame.” That way, we can make different choices in the future.A reasonable client doesn’t want you to be overextended. Click To Tweet
That’s something that people are not as effective as they could be is I always have said that people are like, “Tell me about a time you made a bad decision.” I’m like, “I have never made a bad decision.” I have had many bad outcomes or less than desirable outcomes but at the time when I’m making the decision, it’s the best decision I can make at that given point in time with that information. I’m not going to sit in here, go back and beat myself up over the decision that was made. I’m going to make a new and different decision, create a different outcome. We get so stuck focusing on that path stuff we try to bring it with us everywhere we go. We do that in negotiation. When negotiations get angsty, emotional, I have been screamed that I don’t scream but I have had a lot of people yelling at me in negotiation and that’s a clear indicator to me that they were stuck in a path in their past.
There’s something about what was said, what was proposed and their life experience because we all bring our humanity and our life experience to the negotiation table, it’s something about their past life experience they are stuck in. One of the awesome parts about negotiating is being curious about that counterpart to figure out where they stuck. “How can we figure out? Can we figure out a way to get them unstuck?” Moving forward in the relationship. No negotiations, a hope flat. We negotiate at the moment based on information from the past, trying to divine the future. The future doesn’t ever unfold the way we think it does. Not only can you sometimes fire a client but you can always renegotiate the deal with them too if it’s not working for you. Is there another way of making that deal more effective and work better for both of you?
That’s a great point because I have had clients come to me and say, “I made this deal with the client then I said, ‘I would write these extra five web pages for them.’ I thought it was a little bit of work but it turned out to be much more work than I thought it was going to be. Now, what do I do?” I’m like, “Go to the client and explain the situation.” I call these grown–up conversations, mostly to try to make light of them. It’s like, “Let’s have a grown–up conversation.” It means I have to go to my client and say, “When we talked about doing this, I was excited about it I thought it was going to be about this. When I started doing the work, I think you will agree that it ended up being like this and probably that was my fault. Nevertheless, I would like to request an additional payment of this to cover the work that I did.” A reasonable client doesn’t want you to be overextended. This is a great opportunity to find out if they are reasonable or not. In this case, my client said that her client was reasonable. I was like, “Here’s what I would do. Go ask for more money.” She did. That relationship continues. They have since made yet another agreement and continue to work together.
It’s not how I grew up. It’s not how I was when I was twenty. Now I have been in business for a while, I will go back to the client and say, “We need to look at the scope of this change.” Renegotiate is not what we necessarily would say but it’s like, “Can we sit back down and reconsider how this is working?” That can feel super scary as all grown–up conversations do, like, “We have been working on this for a while. I noticed that the organizational priorities have changed. I don’t think it’s in our best interest to continue working together.” That’s a grown–up conversation. They can have a fit about that, however much they want or they can say, which they probably will because usually if there’s discontent on one side, there’s this discontent on the other side like, “We have noticed that as well. Let’s suspend. How do you imagine that would look?” You then go from there.
I feel like we avoid conversations and avoid people who want to do this by email? I’m like, “You don’t break up by email. No, you don’t renegotiate by email.” We are going to say, make an ideally face-to-face, Zoom to Zoom call and have a grown–up conversation. People are reasonable. If you are working with clients who aren’t reasonable, then you need different clients. I don’t work with clients like this anymore. I have gone to clients before and said, “We need to reevaluate how this is going. This is turned out to cost us a lot of money from my side. I want to request that we do more money.” I have had clients say, “I don’t think we need all these services anymore. Can we redo this?” All things are possible and can happen. One thing I would say and I thought for a while that I was naive and doing things this way is I don’t have all these 50–page contracts in my business I have signed to be part of other people’s programs before. Why? Let’s be honest, this is an intimidation tactic to have a 50–page contract for someone. If somebody wanted out of it, do you think that your lawyers are going to go to court to figure this out? I don’t think that that’s what’s going to happen.
I have a thin little, usually, a 1 to 3-page agreement for $50,000 and $100,000 engagements with other small business owners and I say, “Here’s the deal. If something comes up and you are unhappy, come tell me about it.” I have had clients say, “Can we add this paragraph here?” I will say, “Yes, we can add that paragraph there but let’s have a conversation about it.” I feel that energy can make a more peaceful arrangement. I know that you are working for very large companies. They have cadres of lawyers. They are going to have much more than 50–page contracts. It’s a different situation. I come from the South and they have gentleman’s agreements there. It’s two guys give a handshake thing. I will call it a ladies and gentlemen agreement. People are like, “What does that even mean?” I’m like, “It means that you and I read these things to each other. Here’s what I agree to do. Here’s what you agree to do. We get a little handshake because we are professional. Please sign it and send money, then we agree together.”
The thing that’s interesting to me about that is that I talk a lot about informal and formal contracts. I have worked with large multinational companies that spend $1 million on something and don’t have a contract for that $1 million spent. I’m like, “What are you doing?” They quickly then have a contract but a lot of my clients are small too and different types of clients use different types of contracts. Also, informal contracts. It’s something that’s done on a handshake, written on a napkin. Those are still legally binding agreements that are defensible in court. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because you have written it on a napkin or in one client of my client’s case, they did a bunch of stuff while on a napkin and over Facebook Messenger that it’s not a legally binding situation because it is.
When you start behaving as if that agreement is the agreement, then it’s even that solidifies. It reinforces that it is legally binding. The thing about contracts is that contracts are risk mitigation tools. That is their number one thing that a contract is supposed to do. A lot of big companies will attach operating manuals, tons of operating procedures and crapping in an agreement. I try to pull that stuff out because it changes too much, too often, over time to make the contract becomes inflexible in those situations. If a big company won’t get rid of all of that detailed operational stuff, I negotiate the hell out of it because a smaller business often can’t adhere to a lot of those operational requirements.
One of the things we talked about in our Venn Masters program is we teach people how to read contracts differently, taking this risk lens because there are five types of risks in contracts and only one of them is legal. You have legal risks but then you have four business risks. You have profitability risk, cashflow risk, operational risk and strategic risk. When you are reading contracts and you want to look at the contract from those lenses to say, “Which of these risks am I more willing to accept versus others?” In some classes you might have hit three of those risk factors as like, “I better negotiate this class. These class matters are a lot to me now because it’s attaching. It’s hitting profitability, cashflow and strategy. What am I going to do right now?”
It’s an easy way of starting to narrow how you think about the contracts. The other thing about contracts is I have negotiated contracts that are 1,000 long. There are still usually less than ten major sticking points. No matter how big the contract. There are 6 to 10 big things that matter to both parties. When you focus on those 6 to 10 things and you realize what all that legal mumbo and jumbos doing in the contract that helps you to break it all down into bite–size components, the other thing on contracts is that if you can conceive it, you can contract it. You can get creative but you also can go back and renegotiate. In your contracts, make sure you set up timeframes that say, “We are coming back to reevaluate this. Do not do automatic renew contracts.” I hate auto–renew contracts.
Go back, make sure you are evaluating. “Is this relationship effective or ineffective? Is it how we are working effective or ineffective? Does the contract reflect how we do work together?” If the contract doesn’t reflect how you are working together, then you need a new contract. Make sure you create gateways in your relationships so that you are sitting down, having those conversations and evaluating them. One of the things I love about what you talked about in terms of grown–up conversations, I have a mentor named Blair Dunkley and he calls it Naming and Labeling. It’s like, “Let’s name and label what this is. Let’s call it what it is. It is what it is.” Name it, label it and sometimes you find that you label it differently and it’s like, “What’s your label mean?” What I thought wasn’t working isn’t the thing that’s not working. “What’s so now? Let’s figure it out.”
I love it, especially the naming and labeling. You give people a language to have a conversation about something. Grown–up conversations can be scary. It can feel like a confrontation, which I’m sure you are familiar with negotiating. All of these things where it would be more comfortable for me not to ever go there at all. Especially women suffer from this where we are like a conflict of women, don’t want to ruffle feathers, don’t want to be seen as being a problem and also asking for extra money once we have already decided something that feels outside of our comfort zone. Taking the charge out of the words is the big opportunity in this.
“Can we take the charge out of the words so that we can talk to each other?” I have noticed so often if I can give my client the language and we can practice saying things like they can practice saying, “The investment is $25,000 a month,” and then they don’t die, then we practice saying that over and over again until when they are in front of the client. They can say the investment is $25,000 a month. That naming and labeling is the caution of that. It is reducing the charge and permitting people to say things.
I love that you have practiced that with your clients. That’s spectacular because that goes back to the negotiation we have with ourselves. When you are practicing that near, you are articulating it to another person out loud. You are doing that negotiation with yourself and then you can sit and have those conversations that are challenging. You are right about confrontation. One of the other things that Blair talks about is comfort versus safety. You use the phrase. It’s like, “Am I going to die? Did I die? No, I didn’t die.” This is not a safety issue. My safety issues are I’m super uncomfortable but growth only happens when we are uncomfortable. Our brain grows, the nerve endings grow to meet each other. We will only when we are uncomfortable. Once we are comfortable with something, we stop growing. We start improving.
If I gave you $600,000, would you be willing to be a little uncomfortable or maybe a lot uncomfortable? The opportunity is when people see like, “That’s what I want.” I’m like, “Here’s the road to get there.” I tweeted, “What if the thing that you have been avoiding is the thing which will get you to the place that you want to be?” I said that because I had five clients come to me and say, “Here’s the thing I don’t want to do.” I’m like, “Do you know what you need to do?” “Here’s where I want to be but here’s the thing I don’t want to do.” I’m like, “That’s nothing you need to do.” It’s like you probably know what it is and you need someone else from outside to say, “That’s what you need to do.” A little uncomfortable.
It drives my husband crazy because he can’t be that outside person in those months.
Don’t take your consulting skills home. That doesn’t get received well.
This thing about confrontation is an important component because I speak all over the place. I have talked and worked with thousands of people to help them improve their negotiation skills. The thing that I get so often, “Negotiation is so confrontational.” I’m like, “All relationships have a confrontation.” My husband and I have been married for many years. We have conflicts in our relationship. We are two different human beings with two different perspectives.
I can speak in front of a thousand people and say what I’m going to say. Every single one of those people will have a different takeaway. They will have heard my message differently. Some will love the sound of my voice and it will be like nails on a chalkboard. You can only control the intensity that you have with what you are communicating. You cannot control how somebody interprets what you have said, which is an important thing to understand in negotiation. This is why I hate gamesmanship in negotiation. Treating negotiation as a game instead of a relationship because that’s making it a game and playing at it, it doesn’t build a long-term relationship. In business, we are trying to build relationships, not transaction after transaction because the transactions come when you have the relationships.What if the thing that you’ve been avoiding is the thing which will get you to the place that you want to be? Click To Tweet
Christine, do you feel I agree with you that we can’t control how other people receive what we are going to say? One of the things is if we can manage our intention a little bit better, then we can make things easier for another person. Somebody will say to me, “How do I ask for referrals without feeling awkward or without making people feel awkward?” I’m like, “You don’t feel awkward.” “How do I close the sale without making that person feel nervous?” I’m like, “You don’t feel nervous.” If we can have more clean energy and I don’t clear the energy fell, I don’t know how to put it in a way but let go of the idea of like, “I’m nervous. I feel awkward. This is so confrontational.” If you have that thought, then everything you say is going to be confrontational even though it probably isn’t. If you think, “I’m building a relationship,” then the things that you say that might have even sounded confrontational, I can come across as not confrontational. Am I being too rude about that?
I agree with that. Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to be in the world.” Be the person who you want to be doing business. For me, it’s very much about relationships and I only want to be doing business with people who want the relationship that I want to have. We do that by mirroring. It’s even subconscious mirroring. Chris Voss talks about mirroring in his book, Never Split the Difference. It’s not mimicking. There’s a difference between mirroring and mimicking. It’s mirroring the behavior that you want to be and you see things in people that are part of who you are too.
When you connect well with somebody, there’s something about that person’s personality and behavior that mirrors yours because you have connected in that way. Becoming aware of what that is, is very useful in negotiation. I don’t like tactics with negotiation except when it comes to how I behave versus manipulating my counterpart to behave in a certain way. Tactics are about focused on internal in terms of what we do. I agree with you. I liked that a lot. Samantha, this has been amazing. How do people find you?
People can find me, [email protected]. I welcome readers to my podcast, which is also on YouTube, which’s the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast. I have a super guide that I put together for helping consultants to close six–figure clients. Do more transformational engagements and in it, there are links to case studies about Patty and Carrie and other clients, some of the ones I mentioned earlier and other clients that I have worked with and you can find that at, 6FigureClients.com.
This has been great. I have enjoyed this conversation especially because I have so many consultants who say to me, “I don’t negotiate.” If you are one of those consultants reading this who thinks you don’t negotiate, I hope that reading about Samantha shows you how much you do negotiate both with your advisors but with your clients as well as with yourself. This has been super valuable and informative for me. I have learned a lot. Thank you for being here, Samantha. To all the readers, thank you so much for being here and giving us your greatest gift, which is your time. I appreciate that. Remember that negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship. You cannot win a relationship but you can get more value out of it. Happy negotiating and until next time. We will see you soon.
- Samantha Hartley
- Patty Lawrence – LinkedIn
- Profitable Joyful Consulting
- Talking To Strangers
- Never Split the Difference
- [email protected]
- Venn Masters
About Samantha Hartley
Samantha Hartley works with consultants who are stuck trying to grow or transition. She helps them multiply their revenues without exhaustion by working with perfect clients on transformational engagements, so they can have profitable, joyful consultancies. Samantha’s clients typically add $150,000-$600,000 in their first year together. (Other results include crossing the million-dollar mark; turning a $22K offer into a $200K engagement and adding $400K to a contract in 24 hours.)
Samantha hosts the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast and the Facebook group of the same name. Before starting her business, Samantha worked in international marketing for The Coca-Cola Company in Moscow, Russia, and its Atlanta headquarters. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband and their furry kids.