Being a sports agents requires you to have an immense amount of knowledge about the athletes you represent, the sports and marketing industries, communications and human psychology. It also requires the ability to connect deeply with both individual athletes and huge brands. Agents stick with their clients through the ups and downs of a careers and through injuries, trades, legal battles and social media faux pas.
Athletes have a lot going on. In their professional lives, they have training, practices, media, in-person events and medical treatments to contend with. In their personal lives, they have families and people counting on them, foundations and organizations to run, brands to rep and images to maintain. They are selective about the people they bring into their inner circles.
There are some players that every agent is lining up to work with. And there are other athletes that are not as well-known. But, whatever the athlete’s current situation, they need to find someone who works for and with them in the right way. Though not every agent is right for every player, there are a few traits every player is looking for.
Qualities of the “Right” Agent
Despite a player’s skill level, position or sport, there are some qualities every athlete wants in an agent.
You work with athletes. No matter their current level of popularity or skill, you know they are busy people. They do not want to have to call you to remind you of their existence. They want you working for them behind-the-scenes and not just when they come to you for advice. This is especially true when athletes are in contract negotiations and free agency.
Early in their careers, many athletes are not aware of all the ways they could potentially be taken advantage of by people in power, like agents and financial advisors. Some agents offer players huge upfront bonuses for signing long-term contracts with them, only to require that money get paid back if the relationship does not work out. While all of that information is in the contract, some athletes need guidance in understanding what it really takes to have you as an agent. Be upfront about that kind of information. It will go a long way toward building trust.
Along with honesty, comes trust. If you make big promises and do not deliver, you will not last long as an agent. That goes for both promises to and about your clients. Do not promise them that certain deals will close. Be realistic about your certainty, but stay away from guaranteeing deals until the ink has dried on the contract. In addition, do not promise your client to brands and companies without being sure they are on board. You will burn a lot of bridges that way.
Athletes have to work with agents that gain their respect, but who are also respected by general managers and CEOs. No player is going to seek you out for representation if your reputation is not good with other players and managers. That does not mean you have to be the nicest person in the world or that you can aggressively fight for your clients. Instead, what it means, is that you have to do those things in a way that garners respect for yourself, your client and the league.
5. Business skills
Being a people person is only a small fraction of the work you will do as an agent. You need excellent project planning and management skills in order to keep your mind attuned to every detail of every deal you are working on for every client. You also need excellent negotiation skills in order to acquire the best deals. You will need to know about finances, investments and long-term opportunities to keep your clients set up in the future. You will also need excellent communication skills and contacts within the press.
To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business provides agents with the highly sought-after skills needed to thrive in the sports industry, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.