“Oh, I don’t know. My first offer? Boy, I hate this. I suppose I could offer you somewhere around $125 to $150 per hour to do some marketing consulting for me. Of course, I know you’re busy and I’m in a rush myself, so I’d really like you to seriously consider it.” Is it possible to make a worse first offer? Probably not.
Signals uncertainty and lack of preparation by saying “Oh, I don’t know.”
Is vague and ambiguous by offering “somewhere around $125 to $150 per hour.”
Communicates too much flexibility by noting it’s a “first offer.”
Fails to justify its fairness by pointing to standards such as market value or precedent.
Weakens leverage by stating the person is in a “rush” and “hates” the process.
It even uses a range, which often leads to miscommunication. After all, the consultant probably focused on the $150 rate, while the potential client probably focused on the $125 rate.
So how should we make offers? As I’ve written in past columns, it’s important in your offers and concessions to:
Be specific and detailed.
Explain the offer’s rationale and tie it to standards such as market value or precedent before introducing numbers.
Sometimes point out the consequences if it’s not accepted.
Often put it in writing.
Promote an air of finality and increasing rigidity.