When it comes to running a speaking business, most speakers focus on the wrong questions: How to improve stories, concluding remarks, or stage presence – or the value of their talk.
None of that matters if the gig doesn’t pay the bills. Instead, we advocate speakers focus on another business question:
How do I maximize revenue?
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That means getting as much of the budget allocated to you as possible while delivering as much value as you can.
Budget From Their Perspective
Because organizations are trying to retain as much of their budget as possible and pay their speakers as little as they can (so they can invest in other value-adds for their events), they will rarely publish what they’re willing to pay speakers and will always try to negotiate. If you know your expertise is worth more than the premium coffee bar, it’s incumbent on you to educate prospects to that fact.
Budget From The Speaker’s Perspective
Not all gigs are created equally. In our world, we likely spend as much time preparing for a $5,000 gig as we do a $25,000 gig. Because we’re in business to generate revenue, we want to fill our pipelines with and devote energy to those higher-fee events.
In doing that, we ensure higher-potential clients are touched more throughout the sales cycle and also increase our chance of being selected. Because organizations have different budgets allocated for speakers, it’s incumbent upon us to discover as much as we can about their budget before issuing a proposal and leveraging that information to capture as much revenue as possible during the sales process.
How Do I Arm Myself?
If you walk into a sales negotiation starting from scratch, you’re selling your business short – especially if a critical piece of information like budget is publicly available. But if it’s not on a website, how do you find it?
If you can find a past speaker who presented for that event, plug in that speaker’s name on Google and ‘bureau’ or ‘Espeakers’. You’ll now have a fee that is in range with that speaker is normally paid, and what they likely charged the event you’re pursuing.
Another way to arm yourself is to look at the location of the event – if it’s a top-tier hotel or casino or resort, you can bet the organization has budget. If you can present yourself as a solution-provider, you know some of that budget can be yours.
Finally, an important number you can get prior to talking price that will largely dictate price is number of attendees at the event (this usually has to be asked to a human by a human – requiring you to pick up the dang phone!). A 3,000 person audience will usually have a larger budget than a 30-person audience.
For those of you really dedicated to growing your businesses, you can actually ask the decision maker what their historical budget has been for speakers. We do all the time and are rarely refused an answer.
What Do I Do With It?
Whether you estimate a speaker budget through past speakers, the event site, audience size or have an actual number, another way speakers leave money on the table is by coming in with a flat fee for any audience size, any date, any time. In other words: How do you maximize your fee while simultaneously maximizing value?
The key to this is being seen as a solution provider rather than as an entertainer. This means educating your clients on the difference. Entertainers motivate, experts change status quos. That means everything you could include in your solution should at least be on the table until the client decides otherwise: books, workshops, videos, panels, articles, etc. Fortunately for us, most of those value-adds are low-time and high-margin.
To start maximizing revenue, start asking how you can deliver the most value while also maximizing your fee.
Ask better questions, get better answers.
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