**Editor's Note: MasterMinds is a biweekly feature in which we invite leading master agents to share information, insights and expert opinions about what’s going on in their agencies, the IT/telecom channel or the business community in general.**
By Patrick Oborn
Good agents benefit everyone — master agents, suppliers, clients and themselves. They are more productive and accurate, and, therefore, sell more than other agents. But what does it take to make a good agent great? Here are nine traits that I've identified.
Response time is paramount. Great agents are easy to get in touch with and respond to their customers' needs quickly. Even a client who wants the best possible expertise, advice and products for changing their company's digital infrastructure will get tired of waiting if an agent takes too long to come back with a quote. Lagging response time can drive a customer to call a direct sales rep, thinking they'll get a faster turnaround time. Most master agencies have a variety of tools available to help with the sales process. Telarus, for example, has an online pricing tool and an iPhone app with fiber maps on it. Although the tools such as these won’t close the deal for you, they can help cut several hours out of the carrier selection process.
Great agents make sure their work has been done right. Paperwork is filled out carefully and completely, and care is taken to quote product/pricing options correctly. Nothing can ruin a customer/agent relationship faster than when an agent informs the customer that carrier contracts must be re-signed because of an error in the original paperwork. Master agents who have either automated contract generating tools or an outstanding back-office staff can minimize the contract back-and-forth between agents and clients.
Great agents focus on helping clients solve problems, not on selling them products. Insight is key to enabling great agents to advise their clients on industry best practices and educate them about their options. Clients might not know what they want, may be confused about what they need or may be asking for the wrong thing. Instead of just quoting on what the client asks for, the great agent gets in and helps design a solution, bringing in a sales engineer to provide additional perspective and insight, if necessary.
4. Intelligence (Data)
Great agents use tools such as circuit monitoring and network pre-assessments to make recommendations and offer help on the basis of actual data from the...