How to hold your fee and not discount

Discounting is a swear word, never to be used in your negotiations.  When you hear it spit 3 times, touch wood and stroke a rabbit’s paw, whatever you need to do to rid yourself of the discount curse.

OK, back to our topic.  Holding your fee as a paid speaker and negotiating with event planners needs a bit of tact, confidence, and a clear understanding of your value.   Before beginning any fee discussions, I recommend you have a rate card for your virtual, in person and international speaking.  If you don’t, please see me later.

Assuming you do have rates, here are some tips and advice to help you navigate these situations:

  1. Know the value that you bring: That means talking in outcomes, not in features.  What are the outcomes of working with you, booking you to speak?  What will change for the audience.  The clearer you are about your outcomes the less negotiation you’ll need to do, if any.
  2. Be clear and confident: Clearly communicate your fees.  It’s often easier to reference your “rate card”, which is simply a document where you have written your different fees.  By referencing the rate card, you are distancing yourself from the fee.  And once you state your fee, don’t say any more.  Say your number and wait for the response.
  3. Do a bit of horse-trading as we used to call it, a contra deal, a bit of bartering: If an event planner simply hasn’t got the budget ask them how they can make up the difference.  Can they offer you products, services, promotion opportunities, other speaking gigs for other departments etc. 
  4. Be flexible with payment terms: If budget constraints are a problem, you can offer a payment plan rather than reducing your fee. 
  5. Bundle your services: Offer a package that includes your speaking fee and other services you provide, such as workshops, consulting, or coaching sessions. This can make your overall proposal more attractive and valuable to the event planner and could mean that they can access different budgets to make up the difference.  I know it sounds counter intuitive to offer more and charge more when the planner may not have enough but it’s amazing how funds can be found if the outcome is desirable enough.
  6. Leverage their network: If the planner doesn’t have the budget ask for introductions to other potential clients, suppliers, or events in their organisation where you might be a good fit. This can help expand your network and create new opportunities for future paid speaking engagements. 
  7. Might this event be worth it anyway: Weigh the potential benefits of participating in the event - networking opportunities, increased visibility, and the chance to support a cause you believe in. Sometimes, the non-financial benefits may be worth accepting a lower fee.
  8. Be willing to walk away: If you can’t reach an agreement be prepared to walk away. It’s OK to do so, not every event is the right fit, just like not every date will lead to marriage, you have to kiss a few frogs.  
  9. Be positive: Stay professional and positive. Even if you can’t agree leave the door open for future opportunities. 
  10. Practice negotiating: Improve your negotiation skills through practice. Try it on your partner, kids, dog, cat – you’ll always lose when you negotiate with the cat, be prepared to walk away from the cat.  Practice will help you become more comfortable when discussing fees with event planners.

Go forth and hold your fee. 

View Previous Newsletters