Imagine that you are at a networking event, you are bumping shoulders and putting your best networking skills to work when you end up meeting the head of HR for a local organization.
When you tell her that you are a professional speaker, she asks what your topic is. You tell her, and she says that she is potentially looking for someone who can speak on your specific topic.
But then, straight out the gate, she asks, “How much do you charge?”
Yes—it is awkward.
When this question is asked too early, out of context, and before you’ve found out what exactly she is looking for, it is nigh on impossible to offer an accurate figure.
But if you don’t give her an answer, you might make the situation worse for yourself or shut the conversation down.
Let’s explore how to answer, “How much do you charge?” in a way that will increase your credibility and get you hired, in short, how to answer like a pro.
Here are 5 tips:
Always be prepared for this question.
Even if it comes early, how you respond can affect your credibility as a professional. Responding with surprise or uncertainty can make you seem inexperienced.
Always transition into talking about what they need before quoting a price.
While you might have a base fee, without knowing what they need, it will be tough to add-on or increase the price later. This can create a difficult situation. Make sure you know what you are selling them before you give them a price.
Know your worth.
Some speakers have hang-ups when it comes to talking about money. To make the conversation easier, they lower their prices or offer discounts too early. By lowering your fee immediately, you devaluing what you offer. It should come as no surprise that they will perceive your value to be lower than it is.
Some event organizers want to know right away if you are even in the ballpark of their event budget, so don’t be offended by the question. Don’t forget that in the business world, talking about price is the norm—so never get defensive or irritated by this question.
Never ignore the question.
Don’t leave them waiting or feeling like you are avoiding the question. Get to a quote as soon as possible, but make sure you both have the right information first.
Never talk about the fee first
You want them to want you before they know your price.
This is selling at its most basic.
So, how do you get them to want you when they have just asked, “How much do you charge?”
It would be best if you transitioned from fees into finding out what they need. This is an essential step in making sure you quote an accurate figure.
Below is a list of 10 answers you can use to segue the conversation.
10 Answers to "How much do you charge?"
Can we talk a little more about what you’re hoping I can do for you? Then I’ll give you some pricing options that make sense for your budget.
It’s hard for me to quote before knowing what it is you are looking for, can you tell me more about your event?
Do you mind if I ask you a few questions that will help us answer your pricing question together?
Great question, but what exactly are you looking for?
Let’s talk about what you’re trying to accomplish first, and then we’ll work out some pricing options based on that.
I fear that if I quote a number right now, it’s unlikely to be accurate. Can I ask you some questions to get a better idea of what your goals are? Then my offer will be more specific to you and your organization.
I’ll answer your question in a moment, but to give you a more accurate answer, may I ask you a few questions first?
I generally speak for fees which range between $X to $Y. Sometimes a little more. Not usually less. Is this within your range?
If you can help me answer some key questions, we’ll both understand better how I can help and what it might cost.
Just like you need to make an educated decision about which partner or resource to hire, I need to give you an informed answer to your pricing question. Do you mind if we have a 10-minute conversation about your situation? After that, I’ll have a much better idea of what you’re after and some different ways I can help.
Special thanks to David Newman, author of “Do It! Speaking: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Market, Monetize, and Maximize Your Expertise”, who supplied us with some these responses.
Follow up questions
Once they have agreed to you asking more questions, don’t fumble around. Immediately start determining what they are looking for and start estimating a fee.
Asking a lot of questions will help you find out exactly what they need. From there, you can match up your experience and skills with those needs and offer them an accurate fee.
Here is a short list of questions you can use to start the conversation that will help you figure out how you can help them and what pricing would be appropriate.
6 questions to ask when determining a speaking fee:
Tell me more about your event?
Who is your audience?
Is the audience paying to be there?
How many speakers do you have?
What kind of results are you looking for from your speakers?
How long would I be speaking for?
Wrapping it up
The next time a potential client asks you, “How much do you charge?”, transition them into talking more about what their needs are.
If you give them a quote immediately, not only is it unlikely that the figure you offer will be accurate, but it won't be very easy to negotiate after you’ve put a figure down.
Instead, find out what they need and customize your pricing around their needs.
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