We are a marketing agency with digital services, graphic arts, translations, etc. I am one of our Founders.
We have been courting a potentially enormous client (as in 7 figure, multi-year contract) for THREE YEARS. These high-level relationships take time to gain trust. So, after three years of talk, a thousand bucks on dinner for his team over time, and after we’ve outlined all our services in plain English, the guy tells me:
Client: We will entertain a commission-based fee only. We don’t pay for activities. We pay for results.
He wanted us to do investor research, write proposals for grants and funding, as well as translate websites and create art. But he was saying that we will only pay us if we actually get him an investor?
C’mon… That’s not how to do things.
He is sending us an itemized list of what he wants done, thinking we will accept his proposal for commission-based fees only. He is wrong. We are going to return a policy sheet stating that we do not work on success fee basis or any promise of FUTURE pay. We take a 4-figure retainer (at least $2,000 up front) and then an agreed-upon hourly rate. Our team does not waiver from this position. This is our separation tool. We suspect they will hold firm in their position as well, expecting us to agree to their price structure. This will not happen, so this Client from Hell story is about managing time better; and cutting to the chase faster.
The good news is along the way, we made more huge connections and can sell them our services. Always hold yourself in highest esteem as the contractor. They are talking to you because they CANNOT do what you can do as a software designer, artist, etc. Hold your head high, my contractor friends, and do NOT accept less than you are worth. Any success fee type potential clients reading this: take heed.
Thanks for the chance to tell my story.