A sometimes overlooked, but very important factor in any negotiation is making sure the person with whom you are speaking is in fact the decision maker. If he or she isn’t, you ideally need to get the true decision maker involved in the negotiation.
One method I use to tactfully determine if the person I’m talking with is the decision maker is to ask him, “Is there anyone else I should email samples of my work to?” Or, perhaps, “Can you suggest any other persons in your company I should send a few samples of my work to?”
Your goal is to try to get the ultimate decision maker involved in the negotiation. If you still can’t get to that person, then it’s best to “empower” the person to whom you’re talking with “talking points” or “bullet points” so they can talk about your value and essentially sell you to the person hiring the photographer.
Remember, that initial phone conversation is the time when you have to talk about what it is that makes you different from your competitors. How do you differentiate yourself? What do you “bring to the party” that others may not? What I’m really saying is what value do you provide this potential client?
The inability to show your value will only put downward pressure on the total price of the job. Only with differentiation can you command higher fees, primarily because you will be providing a look, or style, or service that is not easily found elsewhere.
What methods do you use to get to the "right" person? Let us know in the comments!