Today, I had a discussion with an ITL client who’s been an agent under five years. Though he’s still relatively new to the business, he’s incredibly knowledgeable and insightful, partially because he’s already had remarkable success in other football business fronts. Whenever he calls, I always check my watch, because I know we’re going to be on the phone for an hour and I have to make sure I’m not scheduled for anything for a while.
Anyway, today we were discussing recruiting, and the difficulty of converting a player from prospect to client, especially for people like him who’ve had tremendous success in business already (especially sports business). He said something that really resonated with me: “You have to realize that they’re the star.”
That was a Eureka moment for me. I’m always trying to convey to people new to the business, or who are considering the business, the challenges they’ll face. This is a great way to do it, especially to those who approach in the financial realm.
Many of these people manage money for doctors, attorneys, business owners and other high-net wealth individuals. This means they have millions, and sometimes billions, under management. It also means they have a certain amount of cache among people who themselves have cache. Then they come to the football world, and none of that translates. The truly elite player — i.e., the ones that will go in the top 30-40 picks, and the ones that will truly generate revenue — are super-specialized, and have been told that all their young lives. Financial advisors, even the good ones, are a dime a dozen, relatively speaking. To cross the bridge from just another guy to The One, that financial advisor has to do more than provide extra services, connect on a personal level and have the keys to the network that player travels in. He also has to swallow his pride, to some degree. That’s not so easily done, especially when you have to jump through so many other hurdles.
Brief story. I spoke at a seminar last fall, and while there, I met an accomplished financial advisor who was registered by the NFLPA, but who had not cracked the code for repping players. As he drove me to the airport, we talked, and he assured me he’d become an ITL client and take advantage of the tools we offer. However, as the weeks wore on, it occurred to him (apparently) that the nice car he drove, and the nice house(s) he owned, and the impressive clientele he worked with probably weren’t going to get him very far among flashy players in their early 20s. We lost touch, and I doubt I’ll hear from him again. Hey, I understand.
Of course, one day, these young men will be ex-players, and they’ll mature and start to realize the stature of the men who once begged them for their time. But it doesn’t matter then, does it?