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Will the Master Agent Add Value in Cloud Services?
Master agents have had to adapt to change over the last 20 years. He/she has gone from earning carrier commissions to providing sales support, which includes personnel and sales systems, to not only suppliers, but also to subagents. New to the game are service-based models of delivery for IT and communications hardware and software, and the master agent generally leaves this up to IT staff.
According to this Channel Partners Online report, a master agent generally has many years under his or her belt in telecommunications sales within the structure of a recurring revenue model. As a result, it would seem that the agent and the model are a perfect match for handling cloud services.
With the changing environment caused by an influx in cloud services, it’s likely that the master agent will have to up the ante on repertoire skills. As it stands now, some managed service providers and cloud service providers find that master agents are actually lacking in some of the technical competencies and solutions orientations that they’re looking for in an agent.
However, some cloud communications providers, who see the value of master agents’ sales abilities, have partnered with master agents to boost their sales edge. IT-focused managed services providers as well as those in the cloud are slowly taking on middlemen such as master agents to test their value in the process.
The unknown is whether or not a master agent’s lack of IT knowledge can be of complete worth in an end-to-end solution, as IT and communications technologies are merging forces in the cloud. Can there be a complete, end-to-end solution without the help of a master agent? Will the master agent have a place in that relationship? Many believe that agents will be a player in the distribution channel due to their expertise in voice and data telecommunications services.
Early adoption of the changing environment is becoming important as companies seek out a master agent that is extremely forward thinking. In some cases, cloud service providers are not using master agents because they find that they aren’t adopting those services as readily as independent agents.
One cloud service provider said that what master agents currently value does not include the type of training, maintenance and nurturing skills for which cloud service providers are seeking. Cloud solutions are generally an add-on, master agents will need to work toward supporting functionality rather than all out replacement.
The master agent that nurtures the changing paradigm and offers solutions to subagents, said one cloud service provider, will be the master agent that is most fortuitous. Will this mantra ring true throughout the industry for years to come? Only time will tell and only those master agents ready to adapt to change will weather the storm.
Edited by Jamie Epstein