Updated: Feb 28
On today's Equal Pay Day, intended to draw attention to the gender pay gap, it is particularly important to reflect on your own strategies for success in regard to financial terms. With the expert advice of self-made business woman Leila Lowfire, this article will teach you how to successfully navigate through salary and fee negotiations.
Whether you’re employed or a freelancer, earning an appropriate amount of money is not only important for your bank account but also for your self-worth. A model modern businesswoman, one of whom each of us could take a leaf out of her book, is Leila Lowfire. For years, she graced the top of the German Podcast Charts with "Besser als Sex" alongside co-host Ines Anioli.
Leila has successfully managed to turn her name into a brand without ever selling out.
Side by side with photographer Oliver Rath, she started an internationally respected model career in Berlin, and also inspired a large audience as an actress in films by Klaus Lemke and others. What particularly connects us with Leila is her passion for music: she loves metal and enjoys going to festivals and concerts. What we admire about Leila are her uncompromising negotiating skills. Be it sponsoring negotiations for her podcast or negotiating fees for creative work - Leila knows how to negotiate fair salaries. On the occasion of today's Equal Pay Day, she now shares her knowledge and experience with us.
In the run-up to fee negotiations, Leila gives a lot of thought to her potential job in order to be as well prepared as possible for the interview. Primarily, she determines the minimal financial threshold for a specific request, one below which she will not do the job under any circumstances. She has always strictly adhered to this lower limit. "In case it is a client who has a really small budget and is offering a job you really want to do, it is still important to set a lower limit, because otherwise, the leeway downwards is very wide open and people notice that in the negotiations," Leila explains. At the same time, you do not run the risk of selling below value with this strategy. "It is essential to think about everything far in advance. Before I go into a fee discussion, I know exactly what I can offer at what price and where my pricing limits lie," Leila elaborates to us.
The lower limit threshold is always directly connected to Leila’s current personal circumstances. Because if a potential client is not able to pay her lowest possible amount, she prefers to spend her time in her own projects or her private life. This is a very important aspect for Leila, "because otherwise you work for little money and invest a lot of time that you could have otherwise invested in your growth as a person or in your career."
Just as important as the lower limit is the upper limit - the maximal desired amount of money that will flow into your account after the job has been successfully completed. Leila calculates the maximum from a fair price that she sets for the requested service and possible extras that she can offer. If she discovers an added value that she can offer the customer, she will give a well-founded justification for it. This then results in the maximum value, which Leila specifies in her offer.
In addition, Leila sets an ideal value for herself, which is 75% of the margin between the minimum and maximum value. To underlay this important figure with a mathematical example would be this: if her minimum value is 1,000 euros and her maximum is 1,600 euros, then the ideal value would be 1,450 euros.
It is important to leave yourself room to negotiate by determining in advance what exactly is included in your offer.
Leila always sticks to the following strategy: by declaring extras as such, it will be easy for the customer to get a fair price without selling yourself below your price, should your financial expectations differ. It is essential to have a detailed overview of costs, listing exactly what is included in your offer at what price. By providing a clear overview like this, your fees and prices are easily and openly justified. On the other hand, this also gives the customer the opportunity to see whether he would like to take advantage of the additional services you offer, or whether he would prefer a more minimalistic version of the offer.
In addition to the figures, which we must be established in advance, it is important to bring the right arguments to the table. What increases my value? Why are my services worth so much? What can I offer that others cannot? "You definitely need a reason why you get the money because otherwise, you won't end up in the higher realm of your financial ideas and usually go home with the minimum. But the arguments given should not be of a private nature. Reasons like: 'I need money' or 'I have a child to support at home,' are not supportive," Leila warns us.
"Underlining the qualities that you bring with you can be very helpful. Depending on the job, you can highlight your individual strengths."
Sociologists repeatedly confirm that women generally do not attach as much importance to money as men. For example, a positive working environment is more important to women than harassing their superiors with salary negotiations. Leila also confirms this perception and adds: "It's not wrong if money is not important to you, it only affects you negatively if the work you do is not properly recognized." Concerning the creative and media scene she has also addressed an important issue: "Often the prices for services are pushed down by big established companies that adorn themselves with a cool image and use exactly this as an argument why you should work cheaper for them. But that's exactly what you shouldn't do, because in the end you will always be paid for your work and not for the coolness of your employer. That's what I find particularly difficult about Berlin. When I was modeling, I often had the experience that the bigger the name, the more they want to squeeze the price. Apart from that, it doesn't hurt to say: Hey, we can talk next time when you have more budget! Sure, there are phases of life in which you are dependent on every job, but in the long run, it will even bring you more success to cancel badly paid jobs from time to time."
What is also important to Leila in salary negotiations is to express herself clearly. "We, women, tend to put flowery sentences in our mouths and always attach great importance to being polite. But we can also be polite by being clear and determined.
Just say: I need this amount of money to realize this project exactly the way you want it to be."
CHECKLIST TO SUCCESSFUL PAY NEGOTIATIONS:
investigation on your future client/employee
define special values that only you can offer
define lower, maximum and ideal payment amount
prepare a detailed cost key
At the end of the day, it is important to know our own value - within and outside of salary negotiations. By investigating in advance and arguing your price point reasonably, you will be able to assure that all parties involved receive what their work and money is worth.