The Upside

Want to Increase Your Client Close Rate? Start by Negotiating with the Right Person.

I have a piece of advice for you that’s going to help you close more clients, time and time again.


Always negotiate the terms of your agreement with the business leader of the group you’re going to be working with, and not with Human Resources.


Here’s why:

  • HR has the company’s best interests in mind, not yours.

  • On the flip side, the business leader has his or her team’s best interest in mind, which often means bringing YOU on to make their team look good or perform better, like boosting growth or solving big headaches.

  • The business leader has the authority to direct HR to get the deal done.

  • Your compensation is coming out of the business leader’s budget; therefore, they have the power and discretion to flex and stretch their dollars to meet your rates and get you on board.

HR is trained on W2 employment compensation and market rates, not necessarily on consultant market rates. I’ve heard one too many stories where an HR exec takes a full-time salary and divides it by hours to get to the “market rate” for a consultant, which is incorrect. Once confronted with this math, the consultant then has to educate the HR executive on her market rate calculation and value, which usually doesn’t end in the consultant’s favor. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in!


The negotiation of your fees and terms should be finalized with the business leader before ever talking to HR.


When closing a consulting client, HR should only be brought in to execute on the paperwork of your agreement based on the fee and terms you’ve already worked out with the business leader.


So work with the person with the real power in the situation and be sure to negotiate with the business leader, and not with HR.


Negotiating with the business leader will help you close more clients, every time.

Erin Halper

About the Author

Erin Halper is the founder and CEO of The Upside and the leading authority on independent consulting. Since launching The Upside in 2017, Erin has helped thousands of professionals transition from corporate life into consulting to achieve flexibility, autonomy, and a renewed sense of purpose in their careers.

Erin has been a frequent speaker at Columbia, NYU, Harvard, and Brown and has been featured as a leading future of work expert on dozens of podcasts as well as in Forbes, Business Insider, Nasdaq, Crunchbase and many more.

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