'You can lead a horse to water...The value of aligning with an experienced agent"
I recently had an interesting exchange with a professional athlete who after winning a TOUR event had an "unique" perspective on why, in his mind, he didn't think he currently needed an agent. His view was "why pay an agent a fee, when you can do it yourself?" I understand trying to save money, but that thinking is very "Penny Wise and Dollar Foolish.” Meaning, he is saving money in the short term at the expense of possible larger and more impactful partnership(s) that an experienced sports agent can produce, craft and manage based on their individual track record of producing successful partnerships.
My response to his objection and why professional athletes need agents:
When an professional athlete comes to us, they need our advice and skill. Among other things, they need our negotiating skills. We know our way around a sports contract; they don't. They need our contacts. We know who’s spending money in sports and how much; they don't. They need our selling skills, something an attorney reviewing an agreement cannot provide. We can be proactive; a competitive athlete playing at the highest level doesn’t have the time/energy to sell themselves properly or objectively evaluate a possible partnership, nor should they. They need our experience, expertise and knowledge. We have a track record of producing for our corporate and athlete clients that says we’ll deliver; they generally don't.
For example, I had a client who once tried negotiating a deal by himself and accepted an offer of $1.5M over 3 years, not knowing or asking us if the partnership was properly structured or was a "market value" amount. Had he asked us, or better yet had us negotiate the deal, he would have received upwards of $2.5M+ because of our knowledge of that partnership space and prior discussions with the company.
So, in an effort to save money he forfeited almost $600K+ over the life of the relationship. Why, because in his mind he was saving money, but in reality his inexperience and hubris cost him a lot of time, money and proper management of the relationship. Would you have a plumber do heart surgery, of course not. Don't make that mistake.
When choosing an agent (Blog#2), it is very important that you have someone on your team that can tell you what you need to hear and is specific (as above) on why they are a valuable part of your team, which creates a trusting, successful long term relationship.
Before you agree to sign with an agent, don't be afraid to ask them what type of corporate partnership deals that they, as the individual agent, have negotiated from A-Z, not their company. Inexperience and lack of creativity show quickly.
You can lead a horse to water...but you can't always make them drink, but the smart and savvy professional athlete, who cares about his brand and long term business partnerships, will generally make the right decision to select an individual to be part of his team that has "actual" experience (not company) representing professional athletes in all phases of their careers. THINK