The Great Speaker Debate: Should You Negotiate Your Fees?

October 14th, 2012 – by NSA Staff No Comments

The topic of whether or not speakers should negotiate their fees came up at our September NSA CO meeting, during the opening Working Matters Panel. One panelist voiced the opinion that if someone tries to lowball your speaking fee, you should just walk away.

But is this always the right advice?

Perhaps it depends on where you’re at in your career. If what you most need is to get out there and speak as often as possible, to gain experience and perfect your craft, then negotiating your fee is just good sense. There’s no point getting on your high horse and losing out on what could be a great opportunity.

And what if the potential client isn’t trying to lowball you, but cannot afford your fee — it simply isn’t in the budget. Perhaps there are other factors involved which might make you consider a lower fee. Would a week at a conference in a luxury resort in Hawaii or Fiji tempt you to take less money? Or how about speaking for a non-profit or charity that does work you admire? Or speaking to a prestigious group that might create huge openings for you down the road?

It would be fantastic to be so well known and so in demand that you never needed to negotiate… but what if you do? Do you know how to negotiate to get what you need?
Our Working Matters Panelists offered some great advice.

  • If you are asking for a higher price than your client wants to pay, try some “high value selling.” This consists of offering different services such as sales trainings, to add more value to what you are offering the client, more benefits and more problems solved.
  • If your client wants consulting or training programs, offer a volume discount. For instance, “When you hit volume, then we can reduce the price. If you commit to 15 programs, then we will commit to discounting the bottom five.”
  • Find out what issues your client has; what are they really hoping to accomplish by hiring you? Remind them that a one day program, no matter how fabulous, is not really going to accomplish anything for them. Develop an entire curriculum of offerings, and upsell, upsell, upsell! This is really a win-win, because you get paid to do what you do best, and the client gets a real solution to their problem.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you believe you’ve worked hard to get to where you are today and have no intention of lowering your speaking fee one iota? Do you judge each situation on its own merits, and go by your gut? Or do you believe that negotiating simply comes with the territory, and take it all in stride?

And most of all, do you have any advice or opinions on this subject that you’d like to share with the rest of NSA CO’s members? Any hard won negotiating tactics, tips or strategies?
Please leave us a comment and let us know where you’re at on this important and somewhat controversial subject!


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