Dealing with Discount Mentality
The long road to economic recovery in the meetings industry is based on several factors. Business and government leaders who continue to discourage meetings aren’t doing us any favors. The growing hassles associated with air travel aren’t helping either. And the efforts to replace face-to-face meetings with technological substitutes are doing a disservice to everyone involved. However, there is one frustration that many speakers encounter every day … the discount mentality of the average meeting planner.
Everyone seems to be willing to negotiate. Hotel operators are reducing room rates. Convention facility managers are discounting meeting rooms. Food and beverage deals are being negotiated every day. Even meeting planners with plentiful budgets speakers to reduce their fees.
Accepting a lower fee without any concession on the meeting planner’s part hurts the speaker who accepted the deal and every speaker who is considered for subsequent events. The easy way out is to lower the fee and take the deal. The challenging way is to engage in a true give-and-take negotiation. You benefit your business—and the speaking profession—when you engage in fair negotiations.
Perhaps the best argument for fair negotiations is the need to maintain fee integrity. To maintain fee integrity, I knew I needed to reduce value when I reduced my fee. It became obvious that it’s hard to reduce value when the only thing I was offering for my fee was the keynote presentation.
My first step was to establish a new fee, which included my non-negotiable speaking fee and additional, negotiable activities before and after the keynote. This “keynote package” included several elements I can now eliminate to accommodate a request for a lower fee (without even considering a reduced speaking fee). For example, my “keynote package” includes a personalized introductory audio recording the client can e-mail to participants one week before the event.
In my experience, participation increases when audience members connect with a presenter before a program, so I place an actual dollar amount value on this part of the package. I also offer e-mail reinforcement 30 days after the event challenging participants to reflect on the life changes they’ve made as a result of the program. Again, I place an actual dollar amount value on this part of the package.
Now I’m not concerned at all when a client asks, “Would you consider reducing your fee?” The response is simple, “Let’s take a look at what value we can eliminate in order to get the investment closer to your budget.” The meeting planner wins because he got a deal, and I win because I just maintained fee integrity by not negotiating my actual speaking fee (and I can justify the reduction to any future prospects).