Master Agent Featured Article

Master Agent: Is 'Subagent' a Dirty Word?

November 26, 2012

Words communicate more than their primary meaning. Embedded in words also are subtle meanings that often go unnoticed. Take “Webmaster,” for instance, with its subtle master-servant connotation. Or “subagent,” with its unmistakable hint of “less than.”

Master agent Chris Palermo recently got thinking about the term “subagent” and what it subtly communicates. The word “sub” brought to mind negative terms such as below, beneath, lower, subordinate. When he looked in his Webster’s Dictionary, it mostly confirmed his extemporaneous list: "one who stands in rank below another"; "to place in a lower order or class"; "to make or consider of less value or importance."

“I am a business owner that carrier agreements term as either an ‘agent’ or a ‘subagent,’ wrote Palermo in Channel Partners Online. “Neither term fits what we do for our customers, but to be called a ‘subagent’ is demeaning when, in fact, it's people like me who make up most — if not all — of a master agent's carrier commitment.”

For Palermo, about 30 percent of his business goes through a master agent.

“I have been an agent for more than 15 years. My company represents more than 100 carriers worldwide,” he wrote. Using master agents for some of his business makes sense, he said—it isn’t about being less than or inferior.

There are several reasons why an agent might choose to use a master agent, none of which imply inferiority or the other connotations that usually go with the prefix, “sub-”.

For Palermo, these include getting protection under an agreement, earning better commissions, trying the carrier before signing a direct agreement, and avoiding micromanagement by carriers for monthly business.

Partnering with master agents such as Telarus also can be a strategic move to leverage cutting-edge software that allows agents to find information more quickly than they otherwise could.

Telarus (News - Alert) has attracted some of the brightest, honest, and most integrity-filled agents in the industry,” noted the company website. “This ‘honor code’ allows agents to partner with one another to close deals and split the commission accordingly, it allows them to receive warm leads generated by VARs and referral partners, and it allows them to offer honest feedback to the IT staff at Telarus on the performance and utility of the software we create.”

So maybe “subagent” should be phased out as a term, suggested Palermo. There’s nothing inferior about a subagent.“Suitable substitutions could be ‘agents’ or ‘partners’ — nothing special, just nothing demeaning either,” he added.

After all, even big firms who lead their market sector have partners.

Looking to grow your channel opportunities? Then be sure to attend Channel Vision Expo (CVx), collocated with ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Channel Vision Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Featured Carrier Information

Advantix Solutions Group

Advantix Solutions Group
Advantix Solutions Group is a global leader in Mobility Telecom Optimization and Management Services. Advantix delivers unparalleled solutions that empower customers to take control of their entire mobile telecommunications infrastructure.

Comcast Business Class

Comcast Business Class
Telarus is one of Comcast Business Class' leading distributors. Since we joined the Comcast channel program on March 14, 2010, we have been helping our partners qualify, order, and provision all Comcast Business Class products, including Metro Ethernet.

EarthLink Business

EarthLink Business
EarthLink Business is a facilities-based telecommunications provider with more than 28,000 fiber miles. EarthLink Business specializes in a wide variety of products, including MPLS, Ethernet, Wireless, Data, Voice, Colocation, and Hosted PBX.


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