What is an agency?
The role of an agency is to coordinate resources, most frequently human resources, to produce a final project. They act as trusted intermediaries for the clients, who choose them because of their expertise in specific fields.
Other businesses operate in a similar way to agencies because they specialise in recruiting and managing talent, with the goal of producing services for the end clients. Thus, service companies and communities use similar models.
Agencies and other service companies have trained, salaried teams to provide the services. However, they regularly recruit freelancers, for example in periods of high growth, exceptional increase in orders or for ad hoc projects that don’t match their in-house skills.
To prepare for this, most agencies have a database of independent workers. If you are listed and have the right profile, you could be contacted for future assignments.
The goal of this chapter is to help you work with agencies:
By first identifying the ones within your industry;
By understanding how to get listed with these organisations;
By arousing the interest of hirers with a quality sales pitch.
Discover the agencies within your industry
As with platforms, there are agencies representing nearly all service industry careers.
The advantage of working with an agency lies in the fact that, once listed, you’ll be able to get regular assignments. The administrative and marketing aspect is also simplified since you’ll only have a single contact person. However, agency budgets are smaller than those of direct clients, since these organisations are intermediaries, paying themselves 40% to 60% per project. Projects are usually urgent and offered at the last minute, with little flexibility.
Most agencies don’t publish amounts of remuneration for assignments. You will need to negotiate your contracts, bearing in mind your minimum hourly rate.
To get some ideas of agencies you could work with, use the search engines (entering “agency” + your role OR your industry + your town if you want to work locally).
Get listed by the agencies
To join these organisations, it’s best to proceed on a case-by-case basis:
Perhaps their websites include a special recruitment procedure for freelancers;
Perhaps you need to contact them by email or on the professional social networks (LinkedIn). The ideal contact person is the agency’s project manager, also known as project leader, or production manager, who deals with coordinating the assignments.
To increase your chances of being listed on agency databases, don’t hesitate to embellish your applications as follows:
Be concise: agencies receive lots of requests from freelancers. Your initial contact must arouse interest. Use your sales pitch to make a brief presentation of the services that you offer, why that agency would be interested in you, and any questions about the terms and conditions of collaboration.
Inspire confidence: agencies are committed to their clients. Independent workers must be reliable and punctual. Demonstrate these qualities by being responsive and maintaining very good communication with your contact people within the agencies. If your industry uses particular jargon, don’t hesitate to use it yourself.
Promote your skills: indicate your skills and experience associated with the services offered by the agencies. If applicable, don’t hesitate to state that you have the tools or software required to perform assignments.
Repeat this prospecting: ensure you get a reply. Agency team members are snowed under and perhaps your application didn’t get looked at the first time around. Get in touch from time to time to make sure you are included in their databases. See the following example:
Like Agnes in the example above, write your sales pitch to quickly explain who you are and what you do. This can then be sent to potential clients, such as agencies.
Hone your sales pitch to convince in a few lines
The initial contact needs to arouse interest, because the agencies receive lots of applications. The sales pitch is the best communication tool for your business.
The sales pitch is a brief (two or three sentences), controlled communication (prepared in advance), the goal of which is to present your business and create a link with your contact person. It’s not aimed at selling, but at drawing attention.
Create your pitch; it couldn't be simpler. Complete the following sentence:
I am __________ (role). I help ______________ (clients) to ____________ (value contributed) thanks to __________________ (techniques employed).
Let’s take the example of Matthew, an English-language trainer for adults.
When Matthew introduces himself to his students, this is what he says:
“I am an English-language trainer. I help executives develop fluency in English in less than a year, in one hour per week, using a fun method that will make you like English.”
Matthew sells his services to training agencies. Here’s what he writes when he introduces himself to these potential clients:
“I am an English teacher. I support training centres in designing one-off courses, relating to their own methods. My teaching is based on progressive language learning, which encourages the students to succeed.”
Can you see the difference?
Train yourself to write pitches for different audiences: your family, your former colleagues, your potential clients and the agencies you might contact.
Working with an agency can be summed up in terms of the following advantages and disadvantages:
+ Regular assignments (predictable turnover)
+ All the organisation is carried out by the agency (project management, quality control)
+ Learning new methods
- No negotiation possible (deadlines, budgets and scope of assignments)
- No contact with the clients
- No control over payment deadlines, which are often long
Meeting the need for a predictable basic remuneration, to get references in the sector, or to gain in experience