Believe or not, one of my favorite anniversary gifts from my husband was a
vacuum cleaner. This clever, self-auto-mated robot device is called a Roomba®.
Punch a button and it does the work. Our
family enjoys watching it vacuum upstairs
and how it safeguards itself when it gets
close to to the edge of the staircase. It
has a height sensor that protects it and it
backs away when it gets the top stair of
the staircase. When we installed hardwood floors, there was a one-quarter inch
height difference where the wood met
the tile floor. Like the top of the stairs,
the Roomba would back away when it
got close too the threshold. The Roomba
couldn’t distinguish between a one-quarter inch adjustment and a 20-foot fall!
Does that happen to you when you
are negotiating? Are you afraid to tell a
potential client your fee for fear it will be
too high and they won’t hire you? This
is a mistake I made early in my speaking
career. When people inquired about my
fee, I would ask, “What is your speaker
budget for this event?”
This question implies that my fee might
be negotiable and I avoiding the question.
Even if you have ways to negotiate your
fee to accommodate your client’s budget
amount, they need to know what your fee
is. The client still needs to hear your value
in the marketplace to quantify your value.
Now I say, “My fee is $X,XXX. What is
your speaker budget for this event?”
to others. It is one of the first questions
that most decision makers ask. Know
what constitutes a “win” for you. For
instance, is the “win” in booking a spin-
off, creating back-of-the-room sales,
doing an awesome speech on video in
front of a large audience, or getting your
articles published in association promo-
recommendation or request the names and
contact information for all attendees, or
seek another night’s stay at a great location. What is the worst that can happen?
You might hear “no” or “not at this time.”
However, you’ll be surprised at how many
times people will say “yes.”
What are the good business reasons for
considering this opportunity? CEOs
listen for ideas that can increase market
share, retain people, increase profit,
enhance the bottom line and offer other
IS IT WORTH IT?
This may be the most valuable question
you can ask CEOs. Is this course of action
worth your time and effort? Is this the
right thing to do, right now?
In many ways, questions are the language of CEOs. They use questions to
determine the strength of your beliefs and
to decide where to focus their attention.
When talking to those decision makers,
you should know what you want and
articulate it succinctly. Talk in bullet points
instead of offering the unabridged version
of your programs and expertise.
CEOs like to make decisions. When possible, try to offer two or three options.
Allow yourself the time to ask the right
questions and get them answered before
you invest money or time. Many speakers
learn the details after they booked with
clients, or find they cannot get out of a
business relationship that is not delivering
what was promised. In many negotiations, the devil truly is in the details.
speaker, Vince Poscente, CSP, CPAE,
knows how to get the input of the decision maker when he is presenting. In
addition to the pre-conference phone
call, he schedules a breakfast with the
CEO, vice president or decision maker
who is championing the program on the
day of his keynote. As Poscente explains
it, “Excellence and customization are
expected at this level. However, hearing
what decisions they face goes the extra
mile and allows the decision makers to
make sure their message is heard.”
CEOs know the power of questions. Top-level decision makers continuously make
decisions, and questions help them funnel
the truly important matters, such as:
What do I want?
Is it worth it?
One of the main reasons people do not
achieve a successful outcome is that
they don’t ask for what they want. Ask
outrageously—CEOs make outrageous
requests all the time and get increased
outcomes as a result.
If asking for what you want makes
you nervous, start by making
small “safe” requests. For
After your questions have been answered
to your satisfaction, then you can commit
your time, talent, energy and finances.
Smart negotiators record their agreement
in writing. People’s memories fade. Even
with the best of intentions, disagreements occur regarding exact
points of the negotiation.
Put the basics in
WHAT DO I WANT?
This question clarifies your position so
that you can communicate it effectively