[fr] Discussion à SXSW avec mon ami Thomas Vanderwal: existe-t-il des agents pour freelances/consultants? Je rencontre beaucoup d'indépendants (en plus de moi) qui ne se sentent pas à leur aise dans les négociations "commerciales" (préciser le mandat, le salaire, les conditions). Serait-il possible de déléguer cette partie-là du travail à un agent, contre commission, comme cela se fait dans le show-biz, ou comme on le fait avec un "book agent" ou un "speaking agent"?
Qu'en pensez-vous? Est-ce que ça existe?
Even though I didn’t play the social butterfly at SXSW, I had quite a few nice and interesting hallway conversations with friends I bumped into along the way (the way to where…? that’s another question). Hanging out at my usual haunt the lego pit, I had a chat with my friend Thomas Vanderwal about Going Solo (of course) and the highs and lows of freelancing.
One of the things that came up in the conversation was how much difficulty we had with the actual “sales” part of our job as consultants. Getting clients interested and finding contacts is not much of a problem. Convincing people we have something to offer and that we’re the right person “for the job” isn’t either. What is a bigger problem is actually negotiating the terms of the agreement, closing the deal, discussing financials. Sales. Selling. Personally, I consider that I really suck at that, and many of my freelancer friends have said the same to me.
Stowe Boyd wrote this nearly two years ago, and it’s been one of the starting points behind developing the programme for Going Solo (yes, he’ll be speaking about this too). I also mentioned it in my talk about being a blogging consultant at the end of last year. I’m telling you this to emphasize how much of an eye-opener Stowe’s vision of freelancing has been to me. To summarize very briefly, the skills one needs to be a successful soloist fall in three categories:
- doing the work
So here we are. People who decide to go freelance, like me, are usually (hopefully) good at doing the work, good enough at marketing/networking, or they probably wouldn’t think about going solo in the first place.
And so, talking with Thomas, here’s the bright idea that came up (I honestly can’t remember which of us articulated it first): there are book agents, speaking agents, modelling agents — where are the freelancer/consultant agents? Where are the people who have strong selling skills, who will step in to negotiate contracts for us once we have got the client interested, who understand what we do and believe in it? I’d gladly give a percentage of what I earn for this kind of service.
There are communities out there for freelancers, but they seem to always focus also on “finding clients”. One always needs more leads, of course — but that’s not really the part of the job I need to delegate. I actually enjoy the networking/marketing part of my job. They also seem to have a pool of “agents”, and from the outside it doesn’t seem clear how personalized the service will be.
Is there anybody out there who does this? Do you think this kind of relationship can work? As somebody who would hire freelance consultants/workers, how would you feel about negotiating with an agent rather than the person you’re hiring directly?