Channel Partners & Partnerships

By Randy Jeter, Partner, Premiere Worldwide

The days of low-commitment, airtight agent agreements with carriers are long gone. So why is the Channel Partners Conference & Expo going to grow in size and become stronger? Simple – the need for partnerships.

This spring’s show is that much more important to all those agents attending than ever before because carriers are cutting commissions and shifting resources away from the channel to stay afloat. Agents need to adapt by seeking strength in numbers. Let go of the idea that you have to have direct agreements and instead look for partners – masters or leading agencies – that can provide you with both the volume to insulate you from rising carrier commitments and the back office to fill in where carriers are cutting back.

How do you find the right partner at the Channel Partners event? Simple – ask questions. First, ask about the agency’s volume per carrier, the terms of the agreement and, most importantly, who owns the agreement. Many agencies are strong with one carrier but weak with others, and they are already moving their traffic under another agency. You want to be with the agency at the top of the chain – why give away points needlessly?

Second, take into account the ability of the agency to assist you with your accounts with a structured process and strong back office. Why? Simple – time to revenue. Every day you wait to get an account installed by trying to lead an implementation 100 percent on your own without the proper support costs you money. The fact is process and relationships equal quick transitions, smooth installs and better carrier/agent relationships. It’s well worth giving up a few points for that.

So when you’re at the Channel Partners show in Vegas this year, don’t be shy and ask the hard questions. After all, it’s your business.

Randy Jeter is a partner and lead consultant at full-service broker Premiere Worldwide, based in the Los Angeles area. He also is a member of the 2009-10 PHONE+/Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board.

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