Part of preparing for any negotiation is preparing yourself. Knowing the market, both geographic and specialty, in which you’ll be competing is critically important.
A very handy tool right on your desktop is your computer. Mine is always on, always connected to the Internet, and I use it when a new client calls for a quote. As soon as the person identifies the company he or she works for, I can “Google” the company’s name, click on the link to their website, and see how they use photography, and their level of marketing sophistication. In general, you want to get a quick overview of what the company is all about.
During that initial telephone conversation, gather as much information as you can about the client’s needs and wants. Ask open ended questions that will help you to ascertain her level of authority, her motivation? You need to be an attentive listener; don’t interrupt. Like my dad told me, “you have two ears and one mouth, use them in proportion.”
It’s impossible to listen and speak at the same time. If you have to speak, ask open ended question. Again, your job is to get as much information (read: knowledge) as possible about the client to help you to put together an estimate. Remember, to understand you must hear and to hear you must listen.
And finally, don’t trust your memory. Take notes, I use a “telephone cheat sheet” that keeps me on track during that initial phone call. It’s just a list of questions that I know I want to have answered by the potential client. My cheat sheet is available in the ASMP Business Practices Book.