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There are the easy qualifiers: How much do they pay and do they have an evergreen contract with the carrier. Other than that, what can a master agent offer to set themselves apart?

Channel Partners

June 6, 2011

3 Min Read
What Subagents Look For in a Master Agent


By J.R. Cook, Vice President Agent Channel, EarthLink Business

The other day I was approached by a new partner because they had an opportunity that fit perfect into the EarthLink Business sweet spot  a multilocation nationwide MPLS customer. Because this partner did not normally play in this space, they had never secured an agreement with New Edge Networks (now part of EarthLink Business) to sell its services. So, I recommended to the partner that they choose one of the master agents to run the business through. The partners follow-up question: “Which master agent do you suggest I work with?”

We have the privilege of working with just about all the master agents out there, both regionally and nationwide, and I would never position one over another with a potential subagent. I did as I always do, which is to offer some contact information and have them decide which master agent is the best fit for their business.

However, the question did make me wonder what subagents should look for when choosing a master agent. There are the easy qualifiers: How much do they pay and do they have an evergreen contract with the carrier. Other than that, what can a master agent offer to set themselves apart?

I asked a few subagents this question. What amazed me was that the answer seemed to be very similar to the feedback we get at every agent council meeting about what we, as a carrier, need to do to set ourselves apart: easy to do business with. Subagents are looking for a master agent who makes it easy to do business with them. That means easy tools, access to support, easy to escalate. They want to be able to sell while the master agent manages the carrier. Its almost like saying, Carriers are tough to work with; your job is to make it easy for me.”

It helped me to appreciate, especially as a nationwide carrier, how important it is for us to align ourselves with our master agents to ensure we are doing what we can to support each other in that ultimate goal … being the easiest to work with, which at times seems like the hardest thing to do.

I am interested in your feedback. What are you looking for from a master agent?

J.R. Cook is the vice president of alternate channels for

EarthLink Business.
 Cook Joined EarthLink Business in 2009, when it was known as New Edge Networks, as the first vice president with sole responsibility for the companys agent channel. Prior to joining New Edge Networks, Cook was vice president of premier accounts for TelePacific Communications after working as a director in its Telepartner channel. He was also key in building the agent channel for Mpower Communications, which was acquired by TelePacific in 2006. He also is a member of the 2010-11 PHONE+/Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board.

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