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The agent landscape

It’s all about the right setting and a plan for the future. Jack Bechta

Print This December 02, 2009, 03:30 PM EST

As I write this post, I’m sitting on a United Airlines flight headed to the Midwest for a presentation with a player and his family. I thought it might be a good time to give you a peek into the logistics of doing an agent presentation.

The player I’m meeting with was a fast riser this season after not playing much last year, and his team is on its way to a bowl game. He was not really on many agents’ radars early in the season, but he’s been getting a lot of attention lately. However, I had started a dialogue with the player’s father in September before he blew up, so I’ll be one of three or four agents to get a meeting.

According to the father, the player has yet to meet with any agents so I might be his first or second meeting. We’ll meet at a hotel near the airport. When I arrive, I’ll scout out the best place to meet. It might be a meeting room, a restaurant or a cozy place in the lobby. Since the player is going to a bowl game, I can’t buy them dinner or even a bottle of water. We could go to a restaurant as long as we get separate checks.

The setting for the presentation is very important. If the agent can control the setting, it helps to give a focused, positive and comfortable experience for the player and his confidants and/or family. I’ve been known to drag sofas and chairs from hallways and lobbies to create a more comfortable atmosphere. I like to have a white board to illustrate my services because I’ve found most players to be visual. Hotel lobbies and smaller, intimate rooms are good as long as there are no distractions.

I also like meeting players at their homes because they’re usually more comfortable and relaxed. I can learn more about a player in his home. When I gave Matt Bowen and his family a presentation, we met in the kitchen, where the mild-mannered Bowen let his mother ask the tough questions. Tim Dwight’s family actually made me dinner before the presentation and made me feel very welcomed. A few dads have offered to pour me a beer during my presentation, which I may gladly accept at the end of our meeting.

Some agent presentations are given in the athletic department or football office. These can be somewhat sterile and brief.

There are several agencies that put on a production for players. They insist the player come to their home office. One agency in New York puts on a three-day production with prospective clients and sells an energetic experience along with their services. For many players who have never been to the Big Apple, they take the meeting for a free trip at minimum. By the time they’re ready to leave, they can’t help but sign and cancel their other meetings. These agencies have perfected a formula for their presentations and usually sign a lot of small-school kids who have never been to the big city. Their retention is fairly solid.

Another successful agent I know of has his prospects stay at his impressive home in the Midwest, mingle with his family and drive his fancy cars.

I know I’ve been used for trips to San Diego. In my early days, a wide receiver named Johnny Walker from the University of Texas demanded that I take him and his father to the zoo and Sea World. This was after they missed their first flight and I had to buy new tickets for a second flight. They also ordered a ton of room service and movies. By day two of their visit, I told them I probably wasn’t a good fit and left them on their own with use of a car service.

For players whose seasons are finished, I prefer to fly them to San Diego to relax and see my office and meet my staff. I usually put them up in one of my beachfront condos. The players going to bowl games can’t visit an agency but usually want to sign immediately afterward to get started on training.

This meeting will consist of the mother, father and player. I bring a tri-fold presentation with handouts specifically tailored to the needs of my prospect.

A lot of it will be centered on training and preparation. However, I tend to focus the long-term financial health of a player and preparing for best- and worst-case scenarios. I take a more educational approach than sales approach. But I have to admit, the agents with the most clients are great salesmen and showmen.

I prefer to be myself and tell players what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Because of that, I get players who are usually well-grounded, intelligent and confident with few insecurities.

Follow me on Twitter: jackbechta

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