This is quite a success story: a tenured theater teacher leaves education and gets hired on an event team. Was it a fit? Yes it was. Teachers are used to dealing with children and helicopter parents which comes in handy in the events industry as some internal clients often act like children. This former teacher fought for and won her budget; teachers work with strained budgets and know how to make the most of what they have. This ex-theater teacher was also experienced at executing large productions with a clear vision and making it come to fruition with every details considered. Theater teachers’ skills are immediately transferable to the event world: they design their shows (creating a unique and compelling environment in a booth or room), casting (hiring), teach acting (training), hire and supervising an orchestra, lighting crew, sound team, and stage personnel (working with vendors and unions), and are used to working long hours. If you are looking for someone (new blood? Someone who thinks outside the box?) to join your events or trade show team, consider a theater teacher.
Do you know a vendor you trust so much that when you’re looking for a product or service that this vendor doesn’t even sell you still call him/her first? You do that because you trust them. You know they are trying to help you with no strings attached. In any industry, a trusted vendor’s experience and contacts throughout an industry is a valuable resource to their clients.
Which brings me to my philosophy regarding referral fees. To put it simply, I don’t accept them nor do I pay them. This has a successful policy for me for over 25 years. My feeling is that if I were to accept referral fees from another vendor to help them sell to my clients, it would look like I’m doing it for the extra money and not that I am trying to put the best resource in front of my clients – which is my goal. Even the best product or service isn’t always the best solution for every client.
Paying or receiving a sales commission is different than a referral. A referral is passing along contact information, making an email or face-to-face introduction and leaving it at that. The assumption is that I have screened this vendor for my clients and they are ethical, reliable, nice to work with, and have a product or service that might be a fit. I leave the rest of the sales process up to them.
Sales commissions should be accepted or paid when the entire sales process, or at least 90% of it, is completed before a connection is made. I do not sell any other products or services other than my own so I never have accepted a sales commission from another company. But I will pay a sales commission if someone calls me and says they’ve got a client ready for me – the deal is 90% done, and all I have to do is make one phone call and then be there when they want me to deliver my training.
My relationships with my clients is so important that I will do nothing to jeopardize that – and that includes making money off them for another vendor.