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"You don't need to close every sale"

Interview: If you always settle, you will never make it to the big leagues. Hold to your fee whenever
Standing oration
"You don't need to close every sale"
By Kristian from Speakers Loft • Issue #15 • View online
Interview: If you always settle, you will never make it to the big leagues. Hold to your fee whenever you can. In the long run, you’ll be better off. We spoke to leadership speaker Neen James about how women can get fair pay for their work, as part of our research on parity.

“Oh my god, yes, a huge discrepancy!”
Neen James is an Australian speaker, based in Florida, USA. We caught up with her on Skype for a chat. Her reaction was less than surprised when we introduce our numbers on gender discrepancy.
Her Australian accent is something you notice pretty quickly. It is also immediately evident that she is the perfect candidate to help us understand just why these differences exist.
“Just recently, I was offered a job. A gentleman and I were being booked for a conference. The bureau offered me the lower fee. It was the same conference, and the gentleman and I have the same experience. I said no.”
Mostly men in a white room. Photo by Product School on Unsplash.
Mostly men in a white room. Photo by Product School on Unsplash.
Be helpful, even when the gig is not for you
Sure, but passing on a job is easier to do when you already run a profitable business. At least that is what I thought. So I asked. James knows that she does not have the right to tell other people to say ‘No.’
The thing is, you only get to run useful by learning some crucial steps. One of them is saying no if you can. As James puts it: 
“I learned that I had to be able to walk away and not want to close every sale conversation or do every show, I had to say no to some shows (and still do today) if it’s not a fit and I am always keen to suggest alternatives to the client. Sometimes I suggest alternative speakers who are in their price range and other times I suggest ways they could increase their fee.”
But the issue of parity isn’t always a matter of the client lacking the fees needed to hire a speaker. It can be something a lot closer to home. James continues on the issue
“I think that part of the problem is also that women don’t ask for the fee that represents their value. Also, when they do ask, they are more likely to settle when they experience push-back on their price. Men are more likely to say no.”
It is no surprise that men are on average, more prone to risk-taking. As James points out, the problem repeats itself well into other sectors:
“I also believe this topic mirrors the experience of my corporate executives and corporate culture. Many of my corporate female client executives are not paid the same as their male counterparts; it’s a bigger issue than the speaking industry.”
Fairness means everyone wins
Businesses need to run, speakers need to speak, and of course, money needs to change hands. Part of the issue is with the speakers, and part of this lands with the bureaus. If we can help create a more appropriate payment level, everybody wins. As James puts it:
“Bureau Partners and sales teams who work hard to represent their female keynoters, are part of a positive trend and a more significant strategy to diversify platforms and introduce their clients to a variety of talent. It would be a healthy business choice for bureau owners to assure this is happening across their team. And those who affirm their high-level female keynoters get the same fees as the male speakers on their roster will benefit financially. Ultimately, everyone makes more money and grows the business and grows the industry when bureaus are advocating for women and helping their clients. “
The gauntlet is thrown. She urges the bureaus to work harder to get female speakers the same fees as male speakers on their roster. To keep fighting the good fight, you need strength. James draws on confidence and long-term focus. On top of that, there is just one more thing required to keep the banner raised:
“There is also an unwritten strength, and that is that I know I have a responsibility to help raise the market awareness of the power and talent of female keynoters. I have a responsibility to insist on appropriate fees for my experience and expertise and hold to the higher fees for the benefit of others in this business, not just me.”
That’s all for now. I wish you tons of success in your business pursuits and remember that you have tons of speaker colleagues. And they’re the nicest.
See you with a new edition in a week. Thank you for reading.

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Kristian from Speakers Loft

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