Fee integrity, what up with that?

By Jane Atkinson

Fee IntegrityMy client is a talented, hilarious speaker.

She worked her butt off for years doing the crappy speaking gigs for $250 in bad venues. She paid her dues.

Now she’s earning $2500 per engagement but her local bureau wants to list her at $4000. (Cause she’s good.)

But here’s the rub, if a client called her directly she would not feel comfortable quoting $4K. She’s just not $4K confident yet. So what does she do?

Easy peasy.

She asks the bureau to list her at $2500 and if it means no bookings from them, then so be it. Many bureaus won’t work with a speaker at this fee but she can always come back to them later, when she’s more expensive.

Quoting two different fees would completely blow her relationship with the bureau. Plus having inconsistent fees is confusing for everyone, including the client.

When you set a fee schedule, print it, post it on your bulletin board and in an ideal world, you stick with it.

So, what if the client wants to negotiate?

Keeping in mind that sometimes, you just gotta pay the bills, here are a few options:

1. Lower your fee across the board (and on your fee schedule) if it’s not in line with what the market is paying. This is my least favorite option from a client perception standpoint, but it’s an option. (And don’t forget to alert the bureaus of your new fee).

2. Work on ways you can add value for the client rather than negotiate. You might offer to deliver a second session, add in some of your books, do some coaching afterward, or hold follow-up teleclasses or webinars. (Some of these could even turn into more business).

3. Include your travel in the fee and get to the event on your own dime or using reward points. Float this idea with your client, sometimes they like this option, it depends on whether travel is a separate budget.

4. Get some trade in return for a reduced fee. They may give you free advertising, monthly column in their trade journal, sponsorship of one of their other sessions/events, products or services that they offer, etc. Really think about what will be valuable to you. Accepting a list of attendees who are not your perfect market is a win-lose.

In a climate like this, clients are wanting to know that you’ll play ball with them. Show them that you are game, but don’t give away the whole ballpark. You’d be surprised at how often they come back to you with another idea or more money in their budget.

For more on fees, check out this article I wrote for Speaker Magazine last year.

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