EP 19: #AskAkua Episode // Live Coaching Session to Gain Confidence With Negotiating

Ep 19

Negotiation comes naturally to some and is quite uncomfortable for others. In this Ask Akua episode, she welcomes her client, Morgan. Morgan is the founder of Geometric, a handcrafted accessories and apparel brand in Ghana.  

Akua and Morgan walk through a coaching session to discuss negotiation conversations focusing on negotiations for startups and small businesses. In this real-time coaching session, you will hear Akua and Morgan get to the root of the negotiation troubles Morgan has experienced and together brainstorm ways to prepare for future negotiations. After listening to this episode, you too can feel more confident going into your next negotiation.

The audio quality of this episode is not great, but I promise you it's worth listening to.


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What's Covered in this Episode About Contract Negotiation

  • Dealing with time and revenue urgency when negotiation
  • Creating a negotiation checklist to prepare ahead of time
  • Developing scripts and boundaries for yourself before you begin a negotiation 
  • Creating expectations based on the experiences you have had 

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I think definitely, there should be something in the contract about not meeting timelines, or like giving advance notice, because there are like, these things can come up, the project can take a turn, and especially in like web development, stuff like that, you want to use something, and it takes a lot more coding than you expected." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "I fear that I'm not doing it right. I'm either too lenient or not getting enough of a or too cheap and going with a provider who may cause me issues in the long run." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "I usually get asked, what's your budget? And then I don't really know what the cost of the services are like." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in Live Coaching Session to Gain Confidence With Negotiating

Connect with Morgan’s shop:

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

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Here’s the transcript for episode 19 about Gaining Confidence while Negotiating

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua. And I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognized facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. All right. Hello. Nope, that's absolutely fine. All right. I'm really excited for one of the questions this week, I have one of my amazing clients. Morgan Morgan, can you just introduce yourself quickly? Speaker 2 1:39 Hi, everyone. I'm Morgan. I am the founder of a handcrafted accessories and apparel brand in Ghana called geometric. Amazing. I had a question. Akua Nyame-Mensah 1:50 Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead. And let us know your question. Speaker 2 1:52 So I had a question for Akua, about negotiations. So I'm constantly negotiating with service providers contract. And I fear that I'm not doing it right. I'm either too lenient or not getting enough of a or too cheap and going with a provider who may cause me issues in the long run. So I wanted to know a little bit more about what I could do to help understand whether or not I'm getting good value, getting good quality, and choosing the right service provider when I'm negotiating a contract, especially around the price, because I have a hard time understanding if this is an industry level price, if it's too high for the market price, or if it's too low, stay away and try and find someone who's more, you know, at a higher level. So that's my question. Akua Nyame-Mensah 2:50 All right. And so we thought this would actually make a great addition to this week's hashtag ask Akua episode. And so what I'm going to do with Morgan is just ask a few questions and learn a little bit more about what is important about negotiations? And in what ways does she feel like it's not working for her. So Morgan, and of course, you know, whatever you're comfortable sharing, just keeping that in mind as well. There's something you're not comfortable sharing, you can just let us know. So what is really important about negotiations for you what sort of things have happened in the past in relation to you negotiating with service providers. Speaker 2 3:26 In the past, I have usually had a need that, you know, I can't do myself, I need to outsource. And a lot of it comes in the realm of E commerce. So one of our main sales avenues is through our website through E commerce portals, either Instagram or Facebook, Amazon, etc. And so I usually am looking for someone who can help me that or merchandise, my products online, or helped me with advertisements, etc. So a lot of assistance needed in the E commerce, world, the marketing, etc. And what I found is either I get to try to go with a few recommendations. And I'm at this point, I'm usually kind of pressed to do something like I've waited too long, or I've realized it's really an urgent need. And I have chosen someone and just say, okay, that's the first part. I'm like, Okay, well, now we're getting started. And I wonder after we get started, if I should have, like, you know, ask them, you know, is this you know, what, you're charging all this like a street level price, or should I have looked at other providers at first and kind of done like, a price comparison. So that's where I get caught up. It's kind of like time urgency need, and then at the same time, not knowing kind of how to be intelligently about my, like, my budget, I guess, or my need for understanding whether or not this is something that is like an overpriced service. Or on the alternative side, the other issue that I found is that I will go with a really, really cheap option and be like, This is great. They're telling you, they can do X, Y, and Z and all the bells and whistles. And the price is like significantly lower than I had expected. And so I think, okay, perfect, that sounds too good to be true. And then it is, it's too good to be true. And that has really been one of the like, that saw stagnated. My, my business, as I'm trying to, like, get through hurdles with a service provider because their price is really low. And I thought it was great, I'll just deal with some of the issues maybe so I can get the end product for a lower price. So those are kind of the two areas that I struggle with, if that Akua Nyame-Mensah 6:18 makes sense. Definitely makes a lot of sense. And thank you so much for taking us through that. So I just want to sort of, I guess, paraphrase or summarize what I heard, and let me know if I'm off in any place. But it sounds like a huge component of this is sort of this element of time. So feeling like there's something that needs to happen and needs to happen maybe sooner rather than later. And because of that you either make a decision to go with a company or a service provider that seems in your perspective on the lower end, or really incredibly affordable or under whatever you thought you would have to invest in them. Or on the flip side with a service provider. Can you tell me the flip side again, the first bit, on the flip side, a service provider who Speaker 2 6:58 price that I think is really high? And I just accept it? Because I think that they're like, you know, a terrific, professional option. I just see them as like an expert in their industry. But I just take the first right. Akua Nyame-Mensah 7:13 Great. Yeah, so those seem like two separate things. Where would you like to go with this conversation? Helping to think a little bit more about you know, do I you know, dive in a little bit deeper and ask more questions before signing up? Or do you want to go into thinking a little bit more about, is there something else that can be done to make sure you don't sign up with another service provider? Who seems too good to be true? Speaker 2 7:33 I think the first option, that's kind of where I went mindset is, is trying to figure out how to delve deeper before to play, you know, taking the leap. Akua Nyame-Mensah 7:43 Great. Yeah. So with your own experience, and you actually talked a bit about some of the things that you could maybe ask that service provider, but what are some of the key things maybe you would want to know before you know, signing that dotted line or handing over money for that contract? What are the things you would have loved to learn? Um, Speaker 2 8:03 well, I love to learn, I would love to learn kind of a little bit about what their success rates are, or what their previous clients experiences have been. Maybe if I could even talk with another client of theirs? I don't know. That's usually something that people are. Akua Nyame-Mensah 8:22 I love that. So on that checklist, potentially previous clients what their results were. Okay, great. What else? This is just a brain dump, we can go back and think more. Yeah, Speaker 2 8:30 yeah. If they accept if they're willing to work with me on a sliding scale, I guess. So like, you know, we're a, you know, social enterprise. We are startup, we offer really amazing products. But, you know, we're bootstrapping most of the time. So our, our funds can be limited in certain places, we want to make sure that, you know, our team is well taken care of, and our products are good. And sometimes I don't have as much of a budget or know the E commerce and marketing. I love that. Right. Akua Nyame-Mensah 9:10 So taking into consideration sort of that those financial constraints and financial boundaries, great. Anything else you think would be important to know? Speaker 2 9:18 Okay, so still, if they have if that if the price range doesn't work for me, if they could introduce me to someone else, love it, who might be more in my price range, and that they would also like feel comfortable recommending in terms of quality. Also, I get asked, what's your budget? And then I don't really know what the cost of the services like. So if I get asked what my budget is, it's kind of like, go, I don't like I will have my budget, but I've kind of anticipated I'm going to spend this much Okay. So like, I was like, say, I know, $1,000 is the budget, and I'm not really sure what this specific service costs, generally. So that's kind of one of my issues are not entirely sure how to get the right price range in mind. Akua Nyame-Mensah 10:22 So if you were to respond and let them know, you know, your budget is 1000. And then they, you know, came back to you with the potential, you know, what the proposal? What typically, you know, how do you typically respond to that. Speaker 2 10:35 So, I usually say, if it's way over what I had expected, I usually say like, she needs some time to get my finances in order, it's not, you know, the investment that I was expecting to make at the time, I think I usually try to ask if there's like other, like, if they could kind of help me get to the next level of like, you know, at like, add some type of service like, or we could do this for this much, but it wouldn't be the entire comprehensive package that you were asking for. So I try and kind of see if there's some way to work. I really liked them, I want to try and see if they can provide maybe less effort, or less deliverables, and we had already, like it's talked about, but then I kind of feel like I get caught, then not achieving my original goal. Only, like 60% achieved it. And I'm left with like, not with less out of budget for it. So then I'm like, waiting for the next month. Hopefully, sales get really good. And then I can come back to it. So it's kind of that like, push and pull. Yeah, yeah, Akua Nyame-Mensah 11:55 I like, you know, thank you very much for sort of sharing that. And I wanted to also focus in on one thing, so you mentioned, and I don't think there's anything wrong with this. And I do think it's important to have a good relationship with your service providers. But you mentioned like really liking them. And then just really curious, when you've decided that you liked these service providers? Do you feel like that might be one of the reasons why you might not ask for what they've done previously. Right. So when we were talking about that checklist of things that you might want to go through before signing up, you mentioned sort of previous clients and sort of having an understanding of what they've done before? And do you feel like that might be one of the things that sort of happens? You're like, Oh, these seem really cool. But you don't necessarily go through your own thoughts of what due diligence might look like before working with them? Speaker 2 12:37 Yeah, perhaps they don't go through enough of the diligence. And also, I think it's like the feeling of pressure, like needing to get it done, because I've like, either waited too long, or realized they weren't making sales because of this issue that they can solve. So it's like a time and revenue urgency thing in my mind. And then the due diligence, because perhaps, I had a really good conversation with them. And we click and I liked all of the ideas that they had and ready to say, Okay, let's do it. Whereas it probably could take some time to pause and think about it and come back to them, even if it's on email, and ask them the rest of the checklist. Akua Nyame-Mensah 13:24 Okay, yeah. So potentially one way even maybe to prepare for the negotiation is like having a sentence or something that you say, where it's like, okay, you know, thank you so much for this, I'll get back to you by potentially X date. Right. So that could be another thing that that you prepare in advance and sort of have a bit of a script when you're going into it? Yeah, so So let's see on the list. So far, we have asking for previous clients, having a better understanding of what's possible with their budget, sliding scale. I love this idea also of introducing to others, right, what Who else could you potentially work with that they know and that they trust? I think that's a really good one that a lot of people don't necessarily consider. And then, you know, trying to figure out how to answer that question, what is your budget, and then finally, making sure that you prepare for that conversation by giving yourself a bit of an outs, right not being not necessarily committing yourself, but letting them know maybe that you'll get back to them at a certain date? Speaker 2 14:23 Yeah. Another one? Yeah. I think another one I just thought of is a sentence for asking whether or not they're flexible, because if they come back with a proposal, and we're meeting about the proposal, and they asked me, Is it something that you feel like you want to move forward with, like, the Cat's got my tongue? I don't have the response that I want, which is like, No, this is a bit higher than I expected. Is there anything you can do about that? But I don't really have the perhaps, like, most eloquent or professional way Akua Nyame-Mensah 15:00 thing that was wrong with what you just said. Unknown Speaker 15:02 I don't know. I feel like it's quite harsh Akua Nyame-Mensah 15:05 as someone who's a service provider. I mean, we were talking about this before we started recording like, I appreciate that straightforwardness, personally, Speaker 2 15:13 yeah, yeah, maybe not like being comfortable being straightforward with it. What else? Do they know? They can? Like? That's the price we've already assessed as low as we can go, then I have a sentence for some time to think about it, basically. Akua Nyame-Mensah 15:33 Or just No, thank you, potentially as well. You said no, when you've had like a negotiation sort of conversation or talking to someone, and they potentially could work with you. Yeah, Speaker 2 15:43 for sure. I mean, because there's some people I've talked to that were just like, way higher than I had expected. Like, I was expecting to pay $5,000. And I was like, $20,000. So with Oh, no, sorry. I'm so sorry. Akua Nyame-Mensah 15:57 Yeah, fair, right. Speaker 2 15:59 Um, that that was easier. So I think when it was like, so much of a dramatic difference, it was much easier. But when it's like, a different housing 2000s or 500? No, then that's where I'm kind of like, but that makes difference to small business. And that's where I don't have enough of the like, like you said, straightforward. above what I have. Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:27 So maybe something that also could be helpful is when you're thinking about negotiations, like what is your walkaway? Like, what, what are you willing to say, hey, you know, thank you, but no, thank you at? Is it just price? Is there a certain behavior that they'll exhibit? Is there a certain way that they would show up or you're just like, this is not, you know, the way they're showing up doesn't resonate? And this is not sort of our, you know, the geometric way of doing things? Speaker 2 16:53 Is that something I would say, or just like something that I would look for in terms of Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:58 something that you would look for probably most likely sort of having, you know, on, you know, in addition to having maybe some of those statements around how to have that conversation? have, you know, maybe not now, or are you flexible, also maybe having a list of if any of these things happen, or if any of these points are met, this is sort of when I'm willing to walk away, right? These are maybe sort of those non negotiables that you're looking for in a service provider? Speaker 2 17:22 Yeah, I think that's really helpful. First of all, to love your ideas on checklists, you always come up with like these very, like, I feel like I need to like put it on like a, like an old school binder ring. When you have flashcards. Akua Nyame-Mensah 17:40 I still use flash. Speaker 2 17:43 Learn your you learn your vocabulary, you pull punches, and you put like the definition, the back and the word. That's what I'm gonna do your checklist. Yeah, Akua Nyame-Mensah 17:55 I honestly think you can just help give you so much more confidence, just that taking, you know, an additional five to seven minutes just to prepare and think through some of those things, I think can be incredibly helpful. And even looking at it. I don't see that there's anything wrong with that at all. Especially when it comes to your money, right. And your company's money at the end of that. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. All right. So yeah, so maybe some sort of non negotiable, some sort of No, you know, this is a no list. Anything else do you think would be important to make sure you're going into that negotiation conversation? Or, you know, going over an invoice or proposal conversation? Speaker 2 18:31 Oh, yeah, I mean, time, the timing of the project. And I think we'll need to, like get in more in depth, just like when you look at the proposal, and you're going to sign a contract, but I do have a checklist of things that I want to make sure that there's an out for both of us if XY and Z isn't accomplished, or done, etc, and like, respect and transparency, etc. But I think in terms of like the initial conversation, it's more nuanced, because you're trying to see whether or not it's fit with your business, if they've taken on businesses like you, or if you, you know, want like really like their style, could it and they haven't done other businesses as similar to the skill transfer. And then like you said, a lot of times, do we get referrals and we liked the person that we're working with? So I think, I think these checklists will really help in terms of anything else, just being upfront about timelines, and what happens when things get pushed back, because that's one thing that I always find is really stressful. Is that like, if you're working with someone who's a freelancer, often they have other clients. And you need to know kind of like, this is my deadline, like how well will you how much can you confirm how confident are you that you can meet it by this time? And they say yes, You know, I can definitely meet it by this time. And then they don't. I've had that happen before. And so I'm just like, What do I do, then? You know, Akua Nyame-Mensah 20:09 that's great. Yeah. So sort of thinking about how can you how can you help to mitigate that? And I know that we had some conversations about this for your business. So based on that, what do you think you could potentially either put into, you know, the contract or for you to keep in mind, maybe, as the client in this case, Speaker 2 20:26 I mean, I think definitely, there should be something in the contract about not meeting timelines, or like giving advance notice, because there are like, these things can come up, the project can take a turn, and especially in like web development, stuff like that, you want to use something, and it takes a lot more coding than you expected. You know, that's happened before as well. So I think it would have to be like something written into the contract, and also an understanding around communication, and transparency, really, because it's really like the service provider might have to say, Listen, this has taken me 12 hours, and I thought it would take me two hours. So that I just want you to be updated on that. Like, these are the areas that have been an issue. You can expect it by this time, if you want it sooner, which I don't know, if it's always possible, I could call in somebody else. And we could do it together, but the price would increase. So I mean, that would be like helpful to hear. But I haven't heard that. Akua Nyame-Mensah 21:28 Yeah, that's a really good point. Right? So maybe once again, when you are having that negotiation, when it does come time to sign that contract, letting them know, this is how you prefer to work. I mean, unfortunately, it's not 100%, but at least you're presenting it to them as an option. And as this is, you know, the best way for us to be able to get this done together. Right. And once again, you're reflecting on it from the perspective of as a business owner yourself, and understanding that timelines can change, and that you know, your customers like it when you're commutative. And you're sharing this with them. Yeah, I think that's fair. Yeah. How do you feel about negotiation? Now? Speaker 2 22:06 I feel like I have my checklist somewhere. Ready to go? I'm gonna make them and put them on my flashcards. I feel more confident. Yeah, I feel like there's some a waste of soul. Negotiation conversations that has been like kind of giving me like a little bit of anxiety, which is always kind of like, questioning, did I do that? Right? Did we go over everything? Is it gonna be okay? It's gonna be okay. Right. So this makes me feel a little bit more calm going into them. Akua Nyame-Mensah 22:42 But sounds good. And I think an important piece right is recognizing you can learn from your experience. And I think you've had some experiences. And so when you're putting together that contract, when you are setting expectations with them, you can definitely include all of that. So they know. And that, yeah, you're trying to make sure that at the end of the day, it's for the best, right, it's for it's best for both sides best for them, and it's best for you so that everyone's happy at the end of the day. All right. Well, thank you so much, Morgan. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Morgan and that you learned a little bit about yourself as well. My coaching is guided by the International Coach Federation code of ethics. But I also sometimes incorporate my own experience. So that's mentorship, some training, and also some consulting based on things that I've read and things that I've seen work really well for some of my other clients. At the end of the day, my role really is all around helping you expand your awareness. And that involves experimenting, trying things, questioning yourself reflecting, and really working with you to help you find what can hold you accountable for your own interest, and help you really define what success looks like for you. And for this particular conversation, success was really focused on helping her become confident and really being able to show up. And one of the ways that you can help yourself show up is by preparing and through preparation, you can really gain that confidence and you really can start to build that muscle. And I think negotiation like all soft skills is really a muscle and recognizing that your attitude towards that negotiation, your attitude towards that person, your attitude towards the time that you have to prepare. And your urgency potentially to make money or save money can really derail that conversation. So building your awareness around that can be incredibly helpful. And using a checklist a script setting boundaries beforehand, can also help you make the most of that conversation, whether it's a negotiation conversation, a hard conversation or a conversation where you want to make sure you are communicating something really specific. So thank you so much as always for taking the time to listen. I hope that once again you learn something from this conversation If you have, please feel free to reach out. If there's a specific question that you have or you'd like to join me on my podcast, feel free to reach out my social media details are in the show notes. Thank you again. Stay safe. Stay safe. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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