A friend of mine shared some tips on how he negotiates with outsourcers. It was great advice and made perfect sense to me. Some people are naturally great at negotiation. But some of us need help with these skills. I knew this advice would be really helpful to share so my friend very kindly agreed to me posting the information here. HUGE thanks to Mr. Saveintons. You are a legend.
The first app I ever made was a simple prank app. You scroll through some photos of cute puppies and then a big mean dog would pop up and scare you. It was my first experience outsourcing the development of an app. I got around 8 quotes. Some over $3,000 and one under $300. After interviewing all the devs I decided to hire the guy that was $800. I couldn’t figure out why that one dev was only $300 when everyone else was so high. I just figured he was going to rip me off so I just dismissed him. After building a number of other games I have learned a lot. Today I look back and realize that I got ripped off on my first game at $800. The fact is, today I could get that game built for around $300 or less. It seems like the dev I was suspicious about was probably the only one NOT trying to take advantage of me. Well, I learned from that mistake and quickly made adjustments to how I hire my help.
Negotiating with a dev or graphic artist can be difficult. They are in the power position by default. They know how to program or design and you don’t. So how can you really tell how many hours are needed to complete a task? They tell you it’s hard and will take a long time. But can you trust them? These tips will help you get into the Power Position and save a ton of cash in the process.
Here’s what I do…
I post my ad and then interview the 5 that look best to me. Once I’ve selected someone negotiations begin. No matter how fair the price may seem you should always ask for better. If you just ask directly for a better price they’ll probably just say no and give you a long complex explanation about how difficult the task really is and blah blah blah. So use these techniques to better your chances.
1. Blame your business partner
Tell your dev that your business partner has set a strict budget for the project. It’s out of your control. They quote $500. You tell them your partner has only approved $350. If they give you any guff just tell them “No problem. My partner has a developer that will do the task next week. I just wanted to give you the opportunity.” 99% of the time they will cave and take the job.
2. Your regular dev can do it for less but he’s busy now
You get a quote for $500. Just tell them your regular dev can do it for $400 but he’s busy with other projects at the moment. If they whine about it just tell them “no problem. He’ll be available next week. I’ll just wait.” Again, 99% of the time they’ll cave and take the job.
3. I have other quotes for much less, but I like you
No matter what quotes you really have in your hand. Always tell the dev you have lower quotes. “I really don’t want to give this to anyone else. You do great work. If you can just meet me halfway I could give you the project.” Works all the time.
4. Know your stuff. Or at least pretend like you do
Are you new at outsourcing and developing apps? Well NEVER tell this to someone you’re negotiating with. They will not take pity on you and give you a good price because you’re a newbie. Once they know this information it’s like blood in the water and you will get bit.
When you’re explaining the task to the dev say stuff like “This should only take a few hours for anyone that’s good with cocos2d.” or “It’s a pretty basic script so it shouldn’t be a problem for you.” You need to sound like you already know the time needed to complete the task. If they think you know how to program yourself then they won’t try to bid high. Also by making statements that assume the dev is talented you will puff up their ego. They won’t want to admit they’re not good enough to finish the task in such a short time. They’ll take the project just to impress you and show that they are just as good as those other programmers.
5. Bulk Buys and Combo Deals
You have successfully worked down your dev and design cost with some ninja negotiations. Is it possible to get them even lower? Sure!
If you’re reskining games then you will probably want to make 2 or 3 versions of a game before moving on to the next code. If you have multiple iTunes accounts maybe you’ll want to make 5 or 10 games. This is where you can get your cost down even lower with a Bulk Buy. Keep in mind that you should NOT tell the dev you have multiple projects up front. Let him think it’s just one, work the price down low and then tell him there are more. You can probably negotiate another 20% off by committing to multiple.
What if you only need one copy of the code adjusted? Or only one set of artwork done for a game? Well, if you’re a serious appreneur then you’ve probably got multiple projects in the works as once. Think of another task for the dev to do for you and setup a Combo Deal. “I need 3 SDKs added to this game and I need you to make this other game Universal for me. Can you do both for X amount?” It’s always assumed that the more you buy the better the price. Devs seem to understand this and are very willing to give better pricing as the task grows.
Most of the above techniques will work just fine on graphic designers but this is a trick I use specifically on graphics negotiations. If you don’t explain your needs VERY well the designer will give you a high price. Why? Because they know they’ll need to make a lot of changes to match the vision in your head. So to keep your cost low you need to explain your needs very well and provide them with multiple links to images and other apps they should use as their guideline.
So explain your needs well and provide lots of references. Get your estimate and use my negotiation techniques to get your price down nice and low. Then you drop a little bomb on them. “Oh, I forgot to tell you I already have a bunch of vector graphics for you to use on this project. So you’re really not creating anything from scratch. You just need to format everything for my game and make it look nice. There may be some slight adjustment needed but the foundation graphics are there for you.” Now the pressure is off and the designer thinks their workload has gotten much lighter. The price will go down even more now.
I use this technique all the time with my artwork projects and some of my designers are used to it now. They like it. They expect me to have a set of “starter images” in vector format for them to work with. Artwork that would regularly cost like $250 can get down to around $125 if you supply them with a good foundation to build from. I get all my stuff from www.vectorstock.com I usually spend around $5-10 there to get my “starter images”. So $125 + $5 is much better than $250. Additionally, I have noticed many times my designer will spruce up the images I give him at no extra cost. They go out of their way to make it look good because they want to show you added value. They want to show you that they’re not just rearranging the clipart.
I’ve used these methods to save thousands of dollars. Hope it helps you too!