I admit it. I am a hopeless movie fan. I can come up with obscure movie dialog on demand.
Here is one from Devil’s Advocate with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. They are both playing lawyers although we later find out that Al Pacino is the Devil.
Keanu Reeves: “Are we negotiating?”
Al Pacino: “Always!”
So how do you apply this to agency finance?
Agencies mistakenly look at a negotiation as an event in time. For example, in July every year you might have to negotiate the fee for the following year. Agency Management will typically get involved a couple of weeks before the meeting and try to get up to speed. Often it is too late.
While it’s true that the negotiation will reach a climax in July, it is also true that you can get a jump on the negotiation well before that.
Months before the actual event you can try to influence your client in terms of budgets… how much he sets aside for the agency next year.
You can start preparing a dossier that will show that the current workload is much higher than last year’s… hence the fee will need to go up.
You can make a note of all the areas where you exceeded expectations. And you must figure out how you’ll handle the situations where you fell short. These will be used by the other party.
There are a lot of things that you can do. The point is that while your Client is waiting for The Negotiation to begin, you’re already negotiating, without him even knowing it.
When the event finally arrives, you will be in a much stronger position.
Come to think of it, maybe your Client is already negotiating without your knowing it.
You’d better get started!