Just as CxOs and IT directors buy all their business related travel services with one or two company credit cards for the convenience of expense management, enhanced member services and most importantly – rewards points, top CxOs and IT directors are discovering that placing all their ICT (information & communications technology) services orders through just two top industry master agencies deliver similar ly valued benefits – vendor neutral consulting, flexible terms and a customized loyalty program.
What’s a Master Agency & Why Do I Need Two?
See the “What’s a Master Agency” video explainer below for a more detailed explanation, but in short, a master agency AKA “technology services broker/distributor” (“TSB/D”) does the same thing for ICT managed services that Home Depot and Lowes do for stuff to fix your house. And you don’t actually need to work with two different master agencies (“MA”) but if you want to ensure you’re getting the best of what your chosen MA has to offer then you then it’s imperitive that your MA1 thinks you have an MA2. Honestly though, while it might seem like a hassle to expend the energy required to “have a second best friend” in the ICT industry, it’s worth the hassle to do what’s needed to place at least 25% of your ICT business throught a second MA. Personally, I worked with just a single MA for almost a decade thinking that they would be loyal to me – but it didn’t work out like I thought it would. When I finally started engaging the other MAs I was like, “Holy Sh!4, look at all this great stuff I’ve been missing out on for ten years!”
(Important Note: The term “master agency” or “master agent” has been the label used to identify the distribution company that telecom agents contract with to distribute carrier services for over 20 years. Some companies have switched from referring to themselves at TSB/Ds in response to the idea that the word “master” is racist. TA uses the term MA for brevity and 100% universal understanding – we mean no disrespect. If & when the industry settles on a new term that everyone can agree on we’ll start using the new term as well.)
MA Top Benefit #1 – Vendor Neutral Solution Engineers & Architects
If you’ve ever worked with a “telecom agent”, “technology broker” or “trusted advisor” you likely noticed that they said they represent “all the top ICT providers in the industry” which makes them a vendor neutral consultant because they get paid no matter which provider you select. In reality, an agent is contracted with one or more MAs and it’s the MAs that have the signed agreements with the ICT providers. And while may agents are quite knowledgable in specific area in which they have experience, the ICT industry has expanded such that it’s impossible for a singe agent to be a vendor neutral advisor for dozens of different providers in dozens of different ICT categories. Over the past five years the MAs have become the very best, if not the only, source of vendor neutral solution engineers (“SEs”) and architects (“SAs”) that a CxO or IT director can engage at no cost in advance of choosing an ICT solution. As you can well imagine, the best SEs and SAs are in high demand which is why top CxOs and IT directors concentrate their ICT business with just one or two MAs in order to get “head of line” priviledges to the top SEs and SAs in any particular ICT managed services category. Click here to view multiple blog posts about the vendor neutral solution engineering that’s going on at MA TBI for CxOs and IT directors working with TBI agents.
MA Top Benefit #2 – Aggressive & Customizable Terms
Carriers want just one thing from customers – all the money forever – which I suppose is workable for “aggregation carriers” that can resell just about anything under a single bill. When negotiating with carriers through a top MA however, the MA can convince a carrier to accept a short one-year or month-to-month term on a service that will only be used during a transition period to another solution from another carrier. Because top MAs have incredible volumes with multiple carriers, an MA will be able to negotiate customized and aggressive terms with multiple carriers on a customer’s behalf – and always much better terms than a customer could extract themselves from the carrier. This again however assumes that the MA believes the customer is committed to buying through the MA over the long run.
MA Top Benefit #3 – A Loyalty Program Customized to Your Unique Requirements
Don’t bother trying to find details about a MA’s loyalty points program for end-user customers on the MA’s website because you won’t find it. What you will find is language about all the up-front cash bonuses and monthly residual commission in addition to annual business travel perks that the their “sales partners” will experince when they put most or all of their end-user customer’s business through them. Top CxOs and IT directors who have put their business through one or two MAs over several years have come to understand that they can expect to be treated as “customer partners” where their agents and the MAs the agents put the business through will create a customized loyalty program to ensure that the CxO and IT director are motivated to ensure all ICT managed services business is routed through a specific MA. The best and most public working example of a provider “loyalty program” for business end-user customers was the PAETEC “Equipment (or Software) for Services” or EFS Program where, depending on the margin of the services agreement signed, PAETEC would allot up to 10% of a customer’s contract value to finance some “equipment or software” that the customer needed. For example if a customer signed a $10,000 per month service agreement for 36-months, the EFS program would finance $36,000 of equipment or software for the customer. Like I said though, don’t expect agents or MAs to lead with their loyalty points program but if you’re a midsize business with the ability to spend over $35,000 per month on ICT managed services, don’t be shy about asking them if they can create a PAETEC EFS-like loyalty rewards program to meet your businesses special needs. If the person you’re talking to says that’s not possible – you’re talking to the wrong person.
How to Find the Right Person to Talk To…
As a nonprofit educational organization, TA’s job is to teach CxOs and IT directors how to meet ICT distributors and providers as equals in the ICT marketplace. The only way for a business end-user to be perceived as an equal by both the distributor and the provider is for the end-user to have a negotiated agreement with both the provider AND the distributor. There is already a service and “managed services agreement” or MSA that will be signed between the end-user and the provider. Until now, only the top CxOs and IT directors insisted on a signed “professional services agreement” or PSA between the end-user and the distributor. The PSA is critical contract and is the only way to ensure that the agreement between the distributor and the provider (which the end-user is not a party to) ensures that the end-user is treated as an equal in the transaction that has the provider paying the distributor a substancial amount of money after the end-user signs the provider’s agreement – which the distributor is not a party to. TA educates CxOs and IT directors how to negotiate a PSA with distributors.