Our business needs an agent.
August 9, 2010 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Is there such thing as a business contract "headhunter" or someone who would find us contracts for our business and take a cut of the contract, then go on their merry way -- sort of like an agent the way actors have agents?

My business partner and I are great at what we do, however we both hate the business development side of things and the whole dog and pony show associated with it. For the last 10 years our work has spoken for itself and still does, but we are somewhat tired of just doing the work that falls into our laps. Granted, it's good work and lucrative but we would like to get projects that are more interesting to us.

We do not want to hire someone full time. We do not want another partner. We want someone who will find us a six figure contract or two and then hibernate until we need them again, or just collect their commission and go away.

Having trouble searching for this sort of thing online and would prefer an established sort of "agent" instead of just someone out of work looking for something that might pan out. Or maybe that's just our best option.

Thoughts and brainstorms appreciated.
posted by thorny to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Of course I forgot to mention we're talking about the internet development arena, app development, basically anything that can be built using a computer.
posted by thorny at 1:42 PM on August 9, 2010

Isn't that a "broker"?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:52 PM on August 9, 2010

Yes, there is such a thing, my SO used exactly this kind of person when he ran his own company several years ago. However this was in London, UK. No ides what such a person would be called here in the US. Also his agent was specific to that industry (game development). The agency still exists today - Marjacq. Perhaps they could help you find a local equivalent if you are not in the areas they service?
posted by Joh at 1:58 PM on August 9, 2010

My wife just asked if I wrote your question. I asked a similar one a while back. The best answer I got was that unless you're a business producing a lot of work for an agent/agency, they're not too interested.

The route I'm taking is to figure out how not just to do production, which doesn't scale well, but turn it into a product that does scale. It's not clear this path is applicable to you. It wasn't clear to me until an ahah moment, which totally changed my elevator pitch and the way I perceived what I do.

And the people we've talked with ("worked with") who said they could market or represent us turned out to be nonstarters. The people who *can* market things well seem to have jobs where they *do* market things well, in large volume and full time. This is what I've found. Your mileage may vary.
posted by lothar at 3:04 PM on August 9, 2010

Speaking as somehow who has sold six figure software / web development contracts for a living, it's going to be difficult to find someone to do that on an ad-hoc basis. Getting new business from companies that don't know you is a long process. For six figure projects, figure 6-18 months from first contact, with probably a smaller project or two in there to prove your reliability. Your existing customers and those referrals you get now don't have to go through the awkward getting to know you phase. Given the amount of work and time involved on the part of the biz dev guy, nobody good will want to put that much effort into developing a relationship just to walk away from it with one or two commission checks.

Probably your best option is to find somebody that would be involved in the projects you want, but from a non-competitive angle. Maybe a hardware VAR, or a design firm that might need to sub out the coding/ dB work on projects.
posted by COD at 3:09 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your best bet is to look into b2b lead-gen programs for your industry to at least get the initial prospect in the door. This can be automated and cheaper, although you still need to do the legwork of closing the deal.

The reality that you need to face is, if you are not willing to invest in this person, they most likely are not going to be willing to invest in you. What you need is a full-time hunter sales person and the good ones are not cheap because they know they can deliver you revenue.
posted by Elminster24 at 4:20 PM on August 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers thus far. I've thought of it as a catch-22 for a lot of the reasons mentioned above. But yes, it makes sense to find a scalable *thing* that can snowball itself into further revenue. It seems like every time we've tried that it ends somewhat quickly because the contracts that were paying the bills needed attention.

We're in a contract right now that ends in 12-16 months so it might be possible to plan ahead since this is the longest commitment we've had the luxury of being involved with.

I just wasn't sure if there were any entities out there that dealt with this sort of thing or not. And it's not like we can't do all this ourselves or we're bad at the marketing part. It's just not our most favorite thing in the world to do.
posted by thorny at 4:42 PM on August 9, 2010

Thoughts and brainstorms appreciated

Ironically, the person you're looking for is often called a "rainmaker."
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:26 PM on August 9, 2010

Best answer: Let people know that you offer a "finder's fee" of x% for bringing you new business worth at least $XXX,XXX or particular type of project. You could offer this to existing clients, other people you do business with, people you know personally, etc.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2010

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