Time for some true confessions: The first telecom sales company I worked for was a multi-level marketing company.
There, I said it.
Although “technically” we sold long distance services, the *real* money was made convincing other people to sign-up underneath you. I’m sure you’ve no doubt been approached several times by network marketers swearing that their MLM is ground floor and that you’re life is going to change dramatically for the better. Maybe you’ve even joined one!
For me, the real comedy—and irony—happened when two rival network marketers from the same company would fight over a recruit. I loved watching people try to pitch the same opportunity differently and try to sell the prospect on why their downline was the superior choice.
Do You Need a Master Agent?
The role of master agent often seems to mimic the MLM model. They all have contracts with the same suppliers, and they all pay residual commission. On the surface, they all look like different downlines of the same MLM. Many agents I talk to think master agents are a waste and that it’s better to work with carriers and cloud providers directly.
This begs the question: Do you need a master agent and if so, how do you choose?
Master Agents Make Quotas
Almost every network and cloud provider requires its partners to hit monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly sales targets. For years, agents believed that these quotas wouldn’t be enforced and they were—until recently—correct. But with the increased consolidation of network and cloud providers, the new regimes (and their attorneys) have been actively sending out cancellation notices and cutting off commissions to partners not meeting the revenue commitments they signed up for years ago.
The best way to protect yourself from this fate is to sell under the umbrella of a master agent who is consistently on the top of the sales stack. Top producers do themselves a double-favor by safely meeting their sales quotas and at the same time making themselves indispensable members of the provider’s outside sales channel. There is safety in consistent production and favorable contracts that only top procuring master agents can negotiate.
Master Agents do Commission Research
Unfortunately commission errors happen. Sometimes the systems get confused, people get confused, or worst case, accounts are stolen by rogue members of a provider’s direct sales team. A good master agent has software, audits, and procedures that can catch, fix, and seek back pay for the errors that it will find on YOUR commission report.
Without a master agent (with a robust commission assurance team), plan to spend one hour per $50K in billing you sell, and more if you’re owed back commission.
Knowledge Drives Success
With so many supplier options available, it’s difficult for agents to keep everything straight!
A good master agent will take the numerous hours required to both learn the many suppliers, understand their differences, and when to recommend one over the other. Even better, some master agents hold weekly training calls, organize in-person training conferences, and will even talk to your clients for you in order maximize your chances of closing a deal.
Make sure the master you work with teaches YOU a thing or two about the suppliers you’re pitching, or has an automated pricing tool to provide additional assistance.
Human knowledge combined with intelligent software will make you unbeatable.
Chose the Right Master Agent for You
So you’ve decided you’re going to use a Master Agent. How do you choose which is right for you? Choosing the right master agent is sort of like dating. On the surface, we all kind of look alike. But dig a little deeper and you realize the details matter. You want to look for a master agent who makes you bigger and better, not just one who takes you out for dinner once in awhile and pesters you for more business! You want to go beyond the MLM peer-pressure sales tactics and look for concrete tools and services that help you scale.
Interview Questions for a Master Agent
You take your business seriously and you need a master agent who is aligned with your business goals.
As you are looking for a master agent, here are some questions to ask in your interview process.
- Will I have a dedicated support team to call for questions, quotes, and support, or will I call into a central helpdesk?
- Do you have tools to make me more efficient in preparing quotes and finding the right services for my customer?
- What are your areas of expertise? If you have a strong client base in a particular vertical or product set, find a master agent that complements and supports that.
- What other services do you offer to help me win deals? Do you have engineers, project managers, big deal teams, or marketing support?
- How can you help me get my new business off the ground?
These are just a few focused questions to ask when choosing a master agent. What other questions will you ask?
Tradewinds Compliments Your Business
Most masters do the basics, and do them well. But if you want a master agent that supports your success in the best way possible, look for a company that invests in their partners and takes ownership in their success.
Here at Tradewinds we are focused on building tools and service departments which fundamentally change the very definition of a master agent. With the support we provide we can literally become your sales department, customer service department, engineering department, and even your credit union.
To give you an idea of services and tools you can look for, here is a list of things that we offer our partners to help them sell more:
- Carrier-neutral sales engineering (Contact centre, UCaaS, network, phone systems, and more)
- Commission advance programs (equivalent to an SMB loan)
- Flexible commission programs (up-front vs residuals)
- Marketing and graphic art assistance
- In-person training and networking events
- Project management
- Ability to pay referral partners on behalf of our agents
- White-labeled sales reps to close deals for you
Partners in Success
That’s what a true partnership looks like, and how the telecom, cloud, and UC game is going to be played going forward. Don’t fall for the MLM tactics that are still used in this industry today. Make your master earn the commission they keep. Put them to work for you and watch your business explode, without the risk of working direct with a carrier!