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Understanding the Role of the Master Agent

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Understanding the Role of the Master Agent

December 29, 2011

  By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The value of the master agent is often questioned by those who lack a clear understanding of the gap this role fulfills. For many in the industry, the term ‘broker’ is often used to refer to the master agent, but both are designed to serve as the intermediary between parties to negotiate a beneficial arrangement. 

According to this Channel Partners Online piece, the master agent can also serve as one who buys or sells for a principal on a commission base and owns no title to the property. A master agent can represent only one provider in a specific category, resulting in an exclusive partnership. Providers love this approach as there is no competition involved in the agent’s activities. 

The downside to this exclusive agreement is that the master agent must sell the provider’s products and services in every account, even if they are not a good fit. The agent needs to make a living as he or she also has quotas to fill. It may seem like the ideal situation on paper, but providers rarely win in the long run when a solution must be built to a one-off scenario that lacks the proper support.

The master agent must take a different approach if they are to provide true value to the customer and the provider. It is his or her job to identify the right fit for the client. This decision must consider product mix, geography, support and more. When all other decision criteria is perceived by the client to be equal, price can enter the mix. On that note, equality rarely exists and the master agent must act as a consultant, recommending the solution based on need. 

If the master agent has built a solid relationship with the client, establishing him or herself as an authority in this field, confidence is instilled by the client. The master agent needs to show true value in the transaction and the customer will recognize that value. At the same time, they also recognize when the agent does not have their true needs as a priority and will quickly turn their allegiance elsewhere. The quality agent understands the needs of the client, as well as their objectives and offers a right-fit based on this information. 

To perform as a true master agent, the individual needs to be able to build the relationship with the client based on mutual respect and trust, demonstrated through interactions and product offerings. Emotion should be pulled out of the equation, ensuring the focus is on what’s best for that particular environment. And, while no agent wants to have to flip an account to a competitor when it’s time for renewal, such a move is a sign to the provider that it may be time to take a closer look at their offerings, pricing, support and program overall.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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