When You Work With Bureaus, What Question MUST You Ask?
If you are operating under a “spin-off” arrangement with one or more bureaus, it is essential that you ask everyone who calls you for a speaking engagement the question: “how did you hear of me?” It is your responsibility to determine if you owe a bureau money.
If your new client heard of you through a bureau, you obviously owe the bureau your agreed-upon commission. But if your new client heard of you (through a recommendation, perhaps) because of a speech that you got through a bureau, you may indeed owe the bureau money (depending on the specifics in your original contract). And even if your new client heard of you through a friend-of-a-friend, if you can trace the original source of the lead back to a bureau, you might owe them money.
Ignorance of the source of your leads is not an excuse.
What if you ‘forget’ to ask? The bureau doesn’t know, so there’s no harm done, right? Wrong! You may get away with it at first, but someone will eventually discover that you’re not paying bureaus their spin-off commissions. And they’ll tell a bureau. And bureaus talk to each other. And the net result will be that no bureau will ever send business your way.
So it’s not only a question of ethics, it’s also being realistic. The damage to your reputation – and your career – is not worth the few dollars you save by not paying bureaus the commission you owe them.
So if there's even a possibility that a prospect might have heard of you because of an engagement that you got through a bureau, it's your responsibility to ask that all-important question — "how did you hear of me?"