The Technology Channel Association (TCA) hosted a conference call today about What Makes a Good Master Agent.
The main factor is of course money. Commissions. Collecting them. Mediating commission disputes. Evergreen contracts. Paying them in a timely manner.
What about the financial stability of the master agency? how can an agent tell if the master agency is financially sound? Bill Leutzinger of Telecommedic says to ask the carrier and ask the master agency to show them revenue run rates. Geoff Shepstone of TBI mentioned looking at the timing of commission payments and whether or not the agency is growing (i.e., hiring employees). Apparently, Microcorp's Commission Insurance is a new twist, but details would be needed to see if that would be enough assurance for an agent.
The Diversity of carriers that a master represents is not as important as the expertise that they have with the carrier. Especially with the carrier the agent is most interested in.
That expertise alone is not enough. This is a Relationship business. As Van Wender of Microcorp commented, "People do business with people they like and trust." (A Gitomer-ism). It certainly has come down to relationship for me with the master agencies I have done business with.
Tools are still new. Not used as much, especially if, as Leutzinger states, the tools are delivering the best available price. He doesn't want to be embarrassed if he delivers a quote that is higher than another agent. (Bill, this happens to me all the time because each carrier has indirect, direct, and wholesale channels).
Jeffrey Potts of Datatel says that the VARs he works with want the back-office support and the repair escalation assistance. They will even take less commission for that peace of mind.
I would have liked to hear from more agenst and less master agents but apparently agents are out scrambling for business and can't get on the call.
Next month's call is Friday, July 23 @ 1 PM ET: Agent 101: Choosing Suppliers, Presented by Dan Vidal, Telecom Advisors. More info here.