So, is there a difference anymore?! Absolutely.
Unfortunately, many search consultants accept money from agencies. They’ll position it as a fee for having materials in their library. Or they’ll want their time covered to give your agency an assessment on their credentials. Or maybe they’ll give you some advice on your prospecting plan. These same professionals will charge clients money for identifying agencies and managing the pitch process. They’ll just do that in a different transaction.
How can this not affect the counsel they provide marketers?!
Agency new business consultants make their fees by working with agencies on, yep, you guessed it, new business. They do not accept fees from clients for any reason. Period. And there’s a wide variety of these kinds of professionals in the space, including a few “pay to play” models out there.
Should you find yourself being approached by a consultant, particularly one that has a specific pitch opportunity, you need to know how this person is getting paid. That identifies the middle man’s true client. Some basic questions that should help:
- How did the assignment come to you?
- What is your role in the search process?
- What is your business relationship with the client?
- How are you developing your agency candidate list?
- What are the other services you provide clients?
- How long have you been in the business?
- How much, if any, money is needed to participate in the pitch? How is that determined?
- How did you come to find out about us? What do you know about us?
- Is the client compensating you in any way for your services?
- How can we find out more about your company and it’s offerings?
You get the idea. And if something really sounds fishy, it probably is.