“The Great Recession was an event masquerading as a trend.” T. Scott Gross

Scott Gross is a thought-leader. You probably have heard of Scott. He wrote the terrific book on customer service, “Positively Outrageous Service”. He really has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of customer service. I think he also has his finger on the pulse of what is happening to speakers and consultants in what I call “the new economy”.

We all know what happened in the speaking industry a few years ago. There are many who are no longer in the business. Simply put, they could not hang on for better days. However, better days did come. I know, and my clients know, that things are better than they were. But no denying, things have changed. I think forever changed.

Years ago, we knew what our calendars looked like a year in advance. Yes, a year in advance. Now, meeting planning may take place a week in advance. We have to be flexible.

When I first started my business, I quoted Connie Podesta, CSP, CPAE. She said, “Fee, flee or free.” Meaning, fee – I’ll get my fee. Flee – forget it, I’m outta here. Free – I’ll waive my fee and do the program for free. Times have changed. Even speakers bureaus are asking speakers to negotiate fees. Where does this leave you?

If you work with bureaus, be careful. They expect that a prospect will pay the same if they hire you directly, or if the Bureau brings you the business. I think it’s unethical for you to quote someone one fee over the phone while expecting a bureau to get a full fee every time. If a bureau asks you to negotiate, it’s up to you whether you wish to do so or not. Regardless, I always say anytime someone asks you to GIVE something, you should ASK for something in return. This is, for some, an epiphany! If anyone asks you, for example, to throw in something like a product, you should ask in return .. “If I could do that, what else of value could you offer me?” (I consider that sentence to one of my “phrase that pays”!

If you don’t work with bureaus, I believe you have more latitude when it comes to fees. But you must always approach fees thoughtfully with your target market, you better be very careful in maintaining fee integrity. Take my business for example. I work with professional speakers and consultants. I swim in a small pond. I cannot vary my fees. People talk in my market, and I always know what they are saying!

I think there are three things you can negotiate and still maintain fee integrity. The three are:

  • Time – would you be willing to do an afternoon session in addition to your morning program? Would you do a keynote and a breakout for your keynote fee?
  • Expenses – would you be willing to throw in expenses to get your fee? Maybe you can cash in some frequent flier miles.
  • Product – are you willing to throw in some product, i.e. books, audios, videos, manuals, to get your fee? Much here depends on what your cost of creating your product is.

Sometimes it makes sense to seek creative ways of adding value to get the job. I was being considered to do sales training for an association that sells services. I knew in order to get the job I would have to lower my fee or add value. I offered to hold a sales teleconference 30 days after the engagement. I would supply a phone number, and anyone who was at the meeting could call in and talk about what was working, what was not working, ask about sales objections, anything they wanted. The association chose me! I didn’t give any on my fee, but I did give them additional time. Guess how many of the 200 who attended the meeting joined me on the one hour call? 10! If you have a product, or are willing to do something like I did above, it gives you a little more flexibility when talking fees. It may also allow you to get your full fee.

So, business is down. What are you going to do about it? You can moan and groan and use the economy as an excuse for not working hard, or, you can think of creative approaches to use in your marketplace. I’m choosing the latter. I hope you do too!

Lois Creamer works with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes! She can be reached in the following ways:

Lois@BookMoreBusiness.com
Twitter: @loiscreamer
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/loiscreamer
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/loiscreamer
For more information on Lois’ business check out http://www.bookmorebusiness.com as well as http://www.bookmorebusiness.tv!