As more and more speakers move to virtual presentations, the most common (and difficult) question that comes up is: What should my ‘virtual fee’ be?
The answers to that question are as varied as the business models behind them, but we’d like to put our stake in the ground by saying there’s only one wrong answer to ‘What should I set my virtual fee at?”
And that answer is: The fee that doesn’t benefit your business.
Why is that? Too many speakers lose track of the fact that no matter what medium they use to present, they are still in the business of speaking. This means they transmit their expertise through their words to audiences that need that expertise to solve problems.
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But that doesn’t help someone set their virtual fee, so let’s dive into what questions we need to ask in order to set any speaking fee – whether we’re presenting virtually or in-person.
Am I Talking To Someone Who Can Say Yes?
The first mistake many speakers make in setting fees is that they share their fee with an information-gatherer or gatekeeper in an organization. These are undoubtedly great people, but they don’t bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring a speaker solves a problem. The person who does bear the cost of the problem they need solved always has the ability to say ‘Yes!’ when they are presented with a cost-effective solution.
How do you find out if you are talking with someone who can approve a fee?
“Tell me, are you the personal responsible for speaker selection for XYZ event happening in ABC city this year?”
What’s the cost of the problem my audience is suffering from?
Unless we know what the cost of the problem the audience is suffering from is, any price we present will be too expensive. If we do know the cost of the problem and our solution is less than that cost (cost can be in dollars, time, stress, etc.), then our fee can’t be cheap enough.
How do you find out the cost of the solution your decision maker needs a solution for?
“If your attendees left this virtual/live event and did something more/better/differently, what would that look like?” Follow up their answer with, “And if we don’t see those changes, what will that begin to cost the organization/their companies?” Run that line of questioning until you get the true cost of the problem the audience needs solved. If you discover a half-million-dollar problem, a fee of $50,000 is a 10-1 return. If your fee is $25,000, it’s a 20-1 return. $12,500? That’s a 40-1 return. You can begin to see how even a mid-level fee is a great return on investment for our clients if we know the cost of the problem their audience is suffering from.
What Makes You Different From Other Speakers?
Now that we know the cost of the problem our talk can solve, we must then differentiate ourselves in relation to the solution we provide to that problem. If they need someone who can sing the National Anthem and don’t care about pitch, tone or timing, a singer can be found cheaply – or for free. If they need this rendition to bring tears to the eyes of their audience (in a good way), suddenly budget appears.
The same is true for speakers. Where most of us go wrong in the realm of differentiation is that we differentiate on our methodology or personal story rather than the effectiveness of our solutions. Methodologies aren’t worth much in an of themselves, which is why so many people get certified to teach ‘so-and-so’s system.’ And everyone has unique stories. What moves a speaker to the front of the line in the selection process is their years serving that industry or being on stages, the testimonials of peers of the decision maker you’re in negotiations with, and case studies of past clients’ successes. Each of those allow us to increase our fee because we have more experience delivering solutions and in addressing audiences with that set of challenges.
What Value Can You Deliver During AND After The Event?
This is a great question to ask (and answer) in every sales conversation for your talk, but it’s especially applicable for virtual talks, as the intellectual property we can deliver during and after our talks (ebooks, online course access, white papers, video series, podcasts, etc.) are low-cost to produce and replicate for speakers and easy differentiators during the sales process.
A well-known speaker who offers nothing but a motivational talk (more common than you’d think) stacked against a less-known speaker who brings three dozen additional items for the same fee that offer customized solutions for a specific problem is an easy choice for most decision makers to make.
What Is The Next Step In This Sales Conversation?
The final thing speakers need to consider as they set their live AND virtual fees is what the next step in the sales process will be that the speaker controls. It doesn’t matter how qualified a speaker is, how many best-selling books they have, how many value-adds they include with their talk or how cheap their fee is. If you hear ‘We’ll look at your proposal and let you know if we’re interested,’ it doesn’t matter what your fee is or how great your talk is – you’ve just lost control of the sale.
To maintain your fee at whatever price you do think is a fair ROI to solve your client’s problem, ensure you maintain control of the sales process by defining what your follow-up steps will be on a specific date so you ensure if this opportunity doesn’t work out, you can move onto other organizations and decision makers who can say yes, whether you’re offering a virtual or a live event experience.
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