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Business of VO – Negotiating

So, we’re not saying that you should go around and put horse heads in your client’s beds…but you should know how to make offers and how to negotiate.

In episode 10, Anne and Gabby go into great detail about how to prepare yourself for negotiating, how to get the power over your client, the questions you should ask, and how to establish a good relationship and keep them coming back to you time and time again.

Check out Episode 10: Negotiating on iTunes or Stitcher.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. In Negotiations “No” is your power word!

  2. Silence is a powerful tool!

  3. Have a baseline, and a rate structure, and stick to it! You’re worth it!

  4. Research your clients. Knowledge is power in a negotiation!

  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “what did you pay your last voice artist?”

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Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. The GVAA Rate Guide is a great place to find out what you should charge!

  2. The UK Voiceover Rate Guide from Gravy for the Brain

  3. See people negotiate for their businesses on the TV show Shark Tank

Full Episode Transcript

VO: Today’s voices need to be more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO BOSS Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business, like a boss. A VO BOSS

Anne: Welcome everybody to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m Anne Ganguzza, along with my lovely co-host, Gabby Nistico.

Gabby: Howdy!

Anne: Gabby, today, we are gonna kind of continue on our discussion from our previous podcast, and we’re gonna talk about, duh duh duh! Negotiating!

Gabby: Love it. I love it.

Anne: Negotiating your price. This is gonna be a fun one

Gabby: But it’s the bossiest of boss topics. I mean nothing,

Anne: That’s right!

Gabby: Nothing makes you feel more like a bad-ass entrepreneur than negotiating, it’s so great!

Anne: And, all right, so if we can just talk about the high that comes with, that comes with a good negoGabby: So, I don’t want you guys to be afraid of negotiation, because I know a lot of people are very, they’re nervous about it, and they don’t want to do it. But I’m gonna tell you, when you get the art of negotiation, and you actually are able to negotiate your voiceover gig successfully, it is such a rush. Oh my god!

Anne: Mh-hmm!

Gabby: It’s such an adrenaline rush. And it just, you know, it just keeps growing and moving you forward, and so, being able to negotiate successfully with a client, I think is a really awesome skill to have, especially, you know, when we want our voiceover businesses to be successful! I mean, we don’t want this to just be a hobby, right? So, let’s talk about how, let’s talk about the art of negotiations. So, I think I’d like to just start it off with I want people to not be afraid to negotiate, and I think we spoke about this previously Gabby. One of the strongest things that you can do in terms of negotiation is have the power or be ready and prepared with the power to say no.

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: It’s a huge, huge, huge thing for most people to accept, and I know that, for the longest time, I kept wanting to say, okay, my clients would come back and say, okay, I just have like one pick-up, or you know, oh, we just changed the script a little bit, and you know, can you just record that for us? And that was like one of those things where it would put me in the position where I’d say, oh, shoot, you know, I’m afraid that I’m gonna lose the business, so maybe I should just agree to it, but in reality, you know, I want you to have a plan, have a strategy, have, you know, practice what you’re gonna say in advance. You should have all of that stuff. I think one of the biggest things that you can to do to be prepared for negotiation is to be prepared. Be prepared in what you’re going to say. Be prepared in your own baseline rate. As we talked about before, what is your rate, what is, you know, the rate that you will step into your studio and start recording? You know, I have that rate established, and if my client is not fitting that rate, I can say no.

Anne: Exactly, and I think that there’s two things that are super critical here. So the first is, actors are taught yes and. That is the crux of so much of the acting arts, and you know, it comes from improv, and we’re taught yes and, yes and. That’s how we approach things in session. It’s yes and, whatever the client wants. Negotiations, that is not the case. No. No is your power word.

Gabby: The power.

Anne: And, so, you have to change your mind set a little bit there. And I’m a believer, because I get it. I was one of those folks. This was not a comfortable area for me at first either. So, I say immerse yourself. Immersion helps you to be more comfortable with this language, and it helps you to just feel like you can own it. And so, you know, my gosh, I mean, some of it might seem basic to some of our listeners, but for some of you, this is gonna be brand new stuff, these names and these things you’ve never heard before. Dale Carnegie. If you’ve never read

Gabby: Mh-hmm, yeah.

Anne: Anything Zig Ziglar writes is perfect and even television shows. I’m a big fan of Shark Tank.

Gabby: Oh god, I love Shark Tank. One of my favorite shows.

Anne: Yeah! If you spend time with some of that reading, watching, engagement, you’re gonna get a lot more comfortable with this process, and you’re going to see exactly how it works. So, definitely, definitely immerse yourself in that.

Gabby: So, I think a big part of negotiating successfully is confidence, and I think that, you know, it would do us well to speak a little bit about the power of confidence. Even if you’re not feeling it inside, you know.

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: How are you portraying that confidence? And again, I think a big part of that is number one, educating yourself. Educate yourself

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: on the current rates that are out there in the industry, and establish that baseline for yourself, and be confident in that baseline. Be confident in the power to, you know, not accept a job if it’s not, you know, within those confines, and it will, again, it will take you one time. When you say no, and it works in your favor, to give you the power, you know, and the confidence to continue forward. So, I think the more prepared you are in terms of your own rates that you’ve set, the better you’re going to be as a negotiator, and I think the more homework that you do on your client, your potential client, because I think it’s all very individualized per client. I mean, there’s no like, in negotiation, I want to say that there’s no black and white really. There has to be guidelines for you, and you can negotiate within those guidelines. And so, be prepared, know what your rate is, and then also, you know, do your homework on your client, understand who your client is, what they do, what their expectations are of you, and you can get a good idea of client budget just by doing research on the client. I mean, that’s, I think some people don’t even know who the client is, you know, in the beginning, you know, they’re not even taking time to research the client, so I had a client, last year, who came to me through my webpage and asked me for a quote on some e-learning, and you know what, after some research on who this client was and talking to the client, and starting a, before I even spoke to the client, I went to their website, and found out that they owned quite a few businesses and found out that they, you know, they had a huge presence with other organizations who had money. So, it was one of those things where I had an idea. You know, and I think a lot of times, you can have an idea of what a budget is without or what a budget could be without necessarily even asking the client, but that is something that ultimately will come up in your negotiations.

Anne: Some of the things that I see now that’s very relevant, especially with the younger crowd, is that you may not be aware of who some of the Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies are. I was really surprised not that long ago, I was in a session with a student, relatively young guy. He was probably about 22, 23, and in a lot of the copy we were working with, he was unfamiliar with really big brand-name car manufacturers. Subaru was unknown to him, Acura was unknown to him. And that was kind of shocking to me, but if you are not-

Gabby: Mh-hmm In the Uber society as well.

Anne: Yeah, if you’re not brand familiar, and that’s not something you’ve ever really paid attention to, or if you don’t have the advantage of an advertising background like I have, then yeah, look it up ahead of time.

Gabby: Absolutely.

Anne: Because that is gonna give you a lot of power and a lot of knowledge very quickly.

Gabby: How much do you love the internet? I swear to god.

Anne: Oh my god, I don’t know what we did before.

-Like I always say, I would marry the internet if I could.

Gabby: But I love Jerry, no!

Anne: I know, I love my husband too, but you know what, if I could marry the internet, I am such an internet geek. Like, I am so all about

Gabby: Dah, da da da.

Anne: the resource,

Gabby: Dah, da da da

Anne: the information that you can get at your fingertips guys. I mean, really, it shouldn’t, like anybody that does not do their customer research or their client research should be, I should slap you on the wrist, because literally, it is so easy to simply type what you’re looking for,

Gabby: Right.

Anne: and researching, gosh, before, in the old days, when I used to walk, you know, 10 miles to school in the snow, and I had a library, I had to go to the library,

Gabby: Ah!

Anne: like, where did you get this information prior to this? It’s all right there, so it’s so easy for you to do that brand research

Gabby: It’s true.

Anne: and to understand it. The more you can understand about the client that you will serve with your voice, the better off you are. And again, remember, we said this time and time again, it’s not about your voice It’s about how you are going to serve your client and elevate their brand.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: It’s really not about your voice.

Gabby: Other things that I think are really important. A lot of folks, and Anne, you said this earlier, people think negotiations are black and white, and they really aren’t.

Anne: No.

Gabby: I think that a lot of voice actors have the impression that when you start talking to a client, and negotiations become part of the discussion, that it is going to be very black and white and only a few questions or a little bit of dialogue in both directions.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: Interestingly, that doesn’t have to be the case,

Anne: Right.

Gabby: and one of the best things that you can do to again put the power in your hands and to take control, is to ask questions and have questions ready to go. You’ll have to modify those questions to the specific person you’re talking to, obviously, but at least to have a template of the kinds of things

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: that you should be prepared to ask can help you immensely in figuring out exactly what is about to happen. Now, these are the same questions the talent agents ask. And, unfortunately, if you miss even one of them, you could be altering or affecting the budget possibility greatly and not even know it. So, this is where, you know, I put my casting brain on, and we get into things like the market, and where it’s going to air or run and for how long, which media is it for, is the client looking for a buy-out, if they’re not looking for a buy-out, then what’s that term that they’re prepared to honor. We need to know things like is it, are there wild cards or wild markets airing, meaning, you know, are New York or Los Angeles or Chicago involved in a media buy, if it’s for broadcast. There’s all kind of little details

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: that you’ve got to get your hands on, and the good thing is this, the more questions you ask, and if they’re intelligent questions, the client is gonna feel more comfortable with you.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: And they’re gonna divulge more. And I think,

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: one of the best questions, by far, and it is the question that can change the tide and put all the keys in your favor, is what did you pay your last person? Such a simple thing, but you’d be amazed how many folks are willing to divulge that.

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: What did you pay your last voice actor?

Anne: And what you don’t want is that answer to say, well, they were much cheaper than the price you just quoted

Gabby: Yeah, but in this, is again.

Anne: I’ve actually had that happen once.

Gabby: I’ve had it happen too, but what happens is it again puts that power in your hands

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: where if you haven’t divulged a number yet,

Anne: Right.

Gabby: it does give you that ability to say at that point you know, we might be a little too far apart,

Anne: Right.

Gabby: If there is a big chasm or a big gap like that.

Anne: It’s not horrible to ask your client what their budget is, if you lose it.

Gabby: No, not at all!

Anne: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, that gives you more leverage. So, you know, the person who mentions price first,

Gabby: Loses!

-loses, absolutely!

Anne: Yes! You’re reading my mind!

Gabby: Yup, that is the one big thing you can learn in negotiation. And I love how you were just talking about the dialogue. The dialogue is so important.

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: And again, sometimes, you know, encourage the dialogue. You know, in this internet, even though I love the internet, sometimes, you know, you have to pick up a phone. And I love to be able to pick up a phone and talk to a client. I’m always inviting them to call me if they have questions,

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: or I might say, you know, I’d love to discuss this further as to how we can work together. And it becomes, you know, more of a, I’m talking to a real person on the phone, I’m telling you, your negotiations, if you can’t do face-to-face negotiations, because then there’s a whole ‘nother science behind negotiation, and that’s body language, right? So, on the internet, it’s a whole different type of body language that we can’t see, and so, I would say, the next step up from that that I think is more helpful is to actually have that dialogue, talk to somebody on the phone if you can, and ask those questions, and show interest, show interest in your client, and show interest in how you can help your client. I think you’re gonna have so much better leverage when you show the client that you’re interested in them, and you’re interested in helping them in any way possible, because you want to make their job easier, , right?

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: You want to make their job, as a matter of fact, you don’t want to give them any homework. That is like one of the key things that I think you can do

Anne: to also help your negotiation, is to not give them too much homework, you know what I mean? You’re gonna be able to handle this all for them, but you need to get the details clear so that you can help them to the best of your ability. So, sometimes picking up a phone is not a bad idea.

Gabby: No, when you break down the tech barrier, and you make negotiations personal, you’ll find that people are often willing to pay a little bit more,

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Gabby: for someone they like.

Anne: Yeah, I agree!

Gabby: Someone, yeah, whose company they enjoy, and interestingly enough,

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: just someone that they perceive as more proficient.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And someone that they believe can problem-solve for them. So yeah, those things are hugely, hugely important. And that becomes-

Anne: And what better way to show them, yeah, in that dialogue

Gabby: Yeah, that’s a repeat client too.

Anne: Mh-hmm, absolutely.

Gabby: Easily.

Anne: I like that. People buy from people they know, like, and trust.

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: And I’m always telling people, you know, let them get to know you better, you know, and let them like you. I mean, gosh, how many times do I think, I’m just gonna hire Gabby, because, uh, I’ve worked with her in the past, and she’s great, she’s dependable, she’s got a wonderful voice, and I’m not even gonna worry about auditioning anybody else, I’m just going right to Gabby. So, that is, you know, again, if you establish that relationship, again, a relationship with a client that you’re negotiating with, is super important, right? That relationship can be everything.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: And that could be every, and don’t let your negotiation, don’t be black and white I want to say on your negotiation, and don’t think the negotiation is all about money.

Gabby: No!

Anne: It could be all about like, future job possibilities, it can be all about, you know, all sorts of things, you know, besides just money. It can be-

Gabby: It can be about expectations.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely.

Gabby: Sometimes clients have a really strict expectation regarding maybe deadline or turnaround,

Anne: Mh-hmm

Gabby: and maybe that’s your negotiating tool. Maybe I can offer it to you for a little less, but you’re going to have to be a little more lenient with time.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: I’m not gonna be able

Anne: Or, if you need it tomorrow,

Gabby: to turn this around. Yeah.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: It’s gonna cost you a little bit more, yeah!

Anne: Right, exactly.

Gabby: So expectation is really huge, and also, I think the more interest you show in a client’s expectation, you’re really helping them to see your dedication to your craft.

Anne: Mh-hmm, mh-hmm

Gabby: That’s an important part of this.

Anne: And a lot of times, you know, sometimes the client is not like, okay, so maybe not every client is a company that’s familiar with hiring voiceovers, right? Maybe they’re a small company that just is, you know, getting a presence online, on the web, or whatever, and they’re not experienced in hiring voice talent. So, a lot of times, you’re helping them by educating them on what it takes

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: to do a voice over. I mean, you know that old saying where, oh, I just, you know, get paid for talking, you know, and, no, it’s just that.

Gabby: There is so much more involved, and sometimes those clients, who may want to pay you five dollars, right, don’t understand what it takes to do, you know, a quality voiceover and all of things that are involved. So the more that, if they need, you know, if they don’t understand that, the more dialogue you create with them and talk to them about, the more they can understand what your job entails, and that also adds value.

Anne: Yeah, have you ever seen another voice actor who maybe you’re just Facebook friends with, and all of sudden, they’re casting. They’re sending out an audition request, and they’re going hey, I need a guy for this part, or I need another female for this, and you’re like, what the heck is going on here? When did they start casting jobs? They didn’t. Very simply, they probably just got hooked up with a client who really is very new to voiceover, very uncertain of the voiceover process, and when they realize that this individual was an expert, they just looked to that talent and said, hey, you know what, can you just handle this for me? The whole thing?

Gabby: Yeah, absolutely.

Anne: Can you bring in some of your friends, can you help me?

Gabby: Yup.

Anne: And that’s what we do.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: It’s full service, and everyone’s pretty happy with those kinds of jobs. I’ve had many of those over the years, and you book a little work for some of your friends, and you take a little bit of a cut for finder’s fee, and it’s nice.

Gabby: Sure! Oh yeah, and I like that you said that, because, really, I mean, I negotiate that all the time, you know, if I’m casting for somebody, in the price that, you know, I’m projecting back to the client, of course there’s a finder’s fee, are you kidding?

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: This is my business.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: So yeah, and I love that, and so the client, think of that, when they are asking for, you know, casting and other areas, that relationship that you have with that client, that’s a testament to, you know, the client trusting you and trusting your abilities to be able to handle the entire project, and again, it’s one of those things where, you know, one of my clients said to me the other day just whatever, I just want you to take care of it.

Anne: Okay, fine, and that includes casting like four additional people, which of course, when I get that price back to the client, that’s gonna include a finder’s fee for me.

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: Absolutely. In addition to my own fee, so I like that you mentioned that Gabby.

Gabby: Well, so the last piece to negotiation, your takeaway, is make sure you have your team assembled. Know who your other go-to voice actors are for things that you vocally aren’t able to fulfill. Have a couple of producers on speed-dial. Know who else can help you to fulfill and complete a project.

Anne: Yeah, networking is a good thing.

Gabby: Yup, yup.

Anne: This is where your networking on Facebook, you know all those groups where all we do is talk to each other? As voice talent? That’s where that’s gonna come in handy, and so, remember

Gabby: Yup, yup.

Anne: not to abuse that, because sometimes that seems like all we might be doing is just chatting on Facebook, but again, Facebook I think is our water cooler, is you know,

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: the voiceovers’ water cooler where before, if we were all working in a physical building, you know, we’d all gather around the cooler and chit-chat, you know, and say, oh yeah, so what headphones do you, you know, use, or what microphone do you use, or you know, okay, so tell us, let’s talk this about client, so that’s really our water cooler, so …

Gabby: I have one, I just talk to myself. I just sort of change my position, so I go from one side of the cooler to the other, and yeah, I talk to myself. It’s pretty sad, I know.

Anne: Well, that’s gonna be another podcast, that’s gonna be a whole ‘nother podcast about how to not join at the cooler so much.

Gabby: Right, how to not go crazy inside your own booth, yeah

Anne: Yeah, how to have a productive work environment, you know, without going to the water cooler too many times. So, yeah, so I think one thing that I want to mention too about effective negotiation is you know, also, when the client comes back, and you know, we’ve always, we’ve had these clients where they come back and they’re like, oh, you know, my budget is only this, or, oh, I’m a nonprofit, so I don’t have, or whatever the reason is is they only have so much, and it becomes a sob story. That’s their negotiation technique to get you down in price. And so sometimes the most effective response to that is silence. It’s amazingly effective when it’s silence. And that’s when being prepared and knowing your rate and sticking to that rate and having the, you know, in your head saying I can say no, I can walk away to this if this is not an agreement with my, you know, with my schedule, my rate schedule. Just silence,

Gabby: Yup.

Anne: is a super effective negotiation tool

Gabby: Yup, it can be, no doubt about it. Okay, so let’s recap.

Anne: All right, recap. So, important for negotiation tactics, be prepared, do your homework, have that established base rate, and understand who your client is. Do your homework on that.

Gabby: Mh-hmm Immerse yourself. Read books, watch TV shows, watch, listen to podcasts, vlogs, whatever medium you prefer to really help yourself to surround yourself with the art of negotiation so that you become more comfortable with it.

Anne: Absolutely. Confidence and the ability to say no.

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: And the power of silence. Good stuff!

Gabby: Yeah!

Anne: Good stuff. What a wonderful episode, and we could probably go on negotiation. I think we should have a, I think you and I should just negotiate for our next podcast

Gabby: We could actually; we could do some role play, sure, why not?

Anne: Yeah, we could do some role play with like, you know, debate club back in my high school.

Gabby: Ooh, I like that.

Anne: It could be like negotiation club, right? That would be kind of cool.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Yeah, and I think we should invite other people in, and so, there will be a negotiation war or something like that. Oh, and watch Shark Tank, yeah. I agree with you there.

Gabby: Oh gosh, yes. Oh my god.

Anne: That’s great like, those sharks are great negotiators.

Gabby: Mh-hmm

Anne: So, good examples in action sort of thing. All right, awesome, Gabby, I love this episode,

Gabby: Me too.

Anne: and thanks everybody for listening, and if you guys were impressed with the quality, the audio quality of this episode, I want to give a big thanks to our sponsor ipDTL for this quality connection and recording.

Gabby: If you want to record like a boss, you can do that, just go to, super easy. From all of us at the VO BOSS podcast, have a kick-butt week, stay focused, and rock your business like a boss!

Anne: Like a boss! A V-O boss! So, don’t forget to like us on Facebook at VO BOSS Podcast and Twitter at VO_BOSS.

Gabby: And subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Anne: Have a great one guys, see you next time!

VO: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS, with your host, Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved. Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectively via ipDTL.