With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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Great news — your MANA directory online profile is getting more attention than ever before, giving you the opportunity to form more and better representative-principal partnerships than ever before!

You’ll read in MANA Board member Tim Ryder’s editorial on page 8 that MANA’s website upgrades and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) initiative are driving more traffic to MANA’s website and attracting higher quality visitors. Page views have increased 21 percent and the time visitors spend on our site has increased 27 percent in just one year.

More views and longer visits mean more manufacturers visiting MANA representatives’ online directory profiles and … Read the rest

Accessing MANA’s Contributions

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This will be my final year serving on the Board of Directors for MANA. It has been a great experience on multiple levels:

  • Working alongside a professional MANA staff and successful independent representatives.
  • Heading and participating on various committees (such as the Financial Committee, Long‑term Strategic Committee, Associate Member Committee, etc.).
  • Networking and befriending other independent representatives from across the United States to Canada.
  • Exposure to different industries.
  • Helping to oversee and facilitate a very prestigious organization from a strategic level.

But, perhaps the most rewarding and enlightening experience has been the observation of MANA’s continued mission “to advance the … Read the rest

Maximizing MANA’s Benefits

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When MANA’s members are asked what benefits they value the most, answers run the spectrum from finding lines to legal counseling to Agency Sales magazine. While the answer to that question may vary, a couple of facts remain consistent.

MANA’s menu of benefits, which may be accessed at www.MANAonline.org, has been put together based on the association’s history of interacting with independent manufacturers’ representatives and their principals. These association benefits, which have been determined over the years, mirror the needs of that constituency.

Association members who avail themselves of the greatest variety of benefits maintain that their dues more than … Read the rest

Having a Business Take Flight

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The rep business was literally shortening my life. Three years and 160,000 miles later, I have wasted 150 days of my life staring at innumerable stupid bumper stickers, stick-figure families on SUV windows, and questionably road-worthy cars with sagging suspension. This is not the anticipated freedom of self-employment; this is insanity. Also titled: why I got my pilot’s license, and why you should stop wasting your time and get yours, too.

2010: As I sat in traffic — again — on a breezy, blue summer Friday afternoon six hours from home, I was rehashing this precise argument. Two years prior, … Read the rest

Manufacturer Questionnaire: Reps, Do You Have the Guts?

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The concept is to create a dialog between manufacturers and their independent manufacturers’ representatives regarding agency performance and manufacturers’ expectations.

Before you start ask yourself:

  1. Does the questionnaire cover the topic sufficiently? Completely? If not, what would you add?
  2. Are you prepared to take immediate action to change, correct, modify your business to be in line with what your key principals expect?

It is also important to focus strictly on principals that are significant contributors to your commission income. What the sales manager of a line that gives you less than five percent of your commission income thinks is a … Read the rest

Improving Sales Through Eight Critical Networking Skills

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Growing revenue is critical to all organizations. Yet finding new markets, new buying points, or new needs in existing clients is increasingly difficult. That is why organizations desperately need all employees, not just salespeople, to be able to effectively uncover new opportunities.

But it is not that easy.

  • A U.S. engineering firm, thinking that a financial incentive would generate new business, began offering its consulting engineers a bonus for uncovering new business from the clients they service. However, after a year, of their 35 engineers, only three had found new business opportunities.
  • Research at the Stanford Shyness Institute suggests that
  • Read the rest

Developing Leadership for Today’s Skill-Driven Teams

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The Lights! Camera! Action! Approach

If you had to sit through eight hours of leadership training tomorrow, which leader do you think would teach you more about how to lead your particular organization: Colin Powell (the former U.S. Army general) or Steven Spielberg (the award-winning filmmaker)?

Perhaps you don’t have an immediate answer. Maybe you’ve been a big fan of one or the other and one personality attracts you more than the other. But our question shouldn’t really be about who would you enjoy more as your instructor, but instead should be about who has the most to teach you; … Read the rest

Keys to Beating the Competition

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There are three skills that will allow you to beat the competition almost every time.

  • Connect and Build Super‑Strong Relationships

Assuming you have at least an average product with a reasonable price, your ability to build trust and rapport and develop a relationship with the prospect are by far the most important elements when competing. All products and services have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. If people like you and trust you more than your competitors, then even if your product is higher priced and not as good, they will still buy from you. Again, price and value differences … Read the rest

Don’t Forget the Suppliers

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Long-time friend of MANA Bob Reiss has graciously allowed Agency Sales magazine to serialize his book Bootstrapping 101: Tips to Build Your Business with Limited Cash and Free Outside Help, available now on Amazon.com. The book looks at surprisingly effective low-cost and no-cost ways to acquire the resources you need to run your company. Whether your company is an existing enterprise or a start up, a manufacturers’ representative company or a manufacturer, this book will introduce you to innovative ways to cut your costs and drive more of your income into bottom line profits.

Suppliers are a critical component … Read the rest

It Takes the Right Tactics to Improve Sales Performance

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In Lee Child’s Without Fail, a Secret Service official simplifies a disturbing problem. “If the Yankees come to town saying they’re going to beat the Orioles, does that mean it’s true?” And then he adds, “Boasting about it is not the same thing as actually doing it.”

It’s the same with sales where there’s often too much boasting and not enough doing. Here are several tactics to improve sales performance.

  • Use Stories That Make a Difference to Customers

While facts help support a sales presentation, they can also be confusing, create doubt and turn people off. Yet, many salespeople fill … Read the rest

Sharing the Cost of New Business

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The subject of shared-territorial development fees is one that seems to never go away and, in fact, would appear to be gaining increased interest from independent manufacturers’ representatives and added attention from manufacturers.

Recent communications with Agency Sales magazine and discussions among manufacturers and agents on the MANA LinkedIn discussion page would indicate that more and more agents are raising the subject in their initial discussions with prospective principals. At the same time, manufacturers are listening and learning about the time, money and effort agents expend in order to develop new business in a territory.

Here’s how one representative began … Read the rest

Become an E-mail Prospecting Ninja in Three Easy Steps

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My client Alex used to be a prospecting dinosaur. His prospecting mindset involved picking a random window of time to make cold calls, and then hoping the prospects would be by their phones. Even if he got through to prospects, they had absolutely no clue who he was. For that reason, he was lucky to get past the first seven seconds of a call.

He would then follow up with a long-form e-mail that never got read, and would start the process over with each new prospect.

Not so anymore. Thanks to technology, all that has changed.

Alex has entered … Read the rest

Another Peek at the Sales Representative Agreement and the Global Distribution of Goods

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MANA continuously endeavors to provide educational aids for its members, agents and principals alike. Its most constant reminder is that you should consult your attorney before embarking on your contractual relationships. This is because the law is ever changing and as attorneys we attempt to not only stay abreast of legal developments but when possible to anticipate and avoid problems for our clients. We prefer to practice “preventive” rather than “remedial” law. Despite the 45+ years that I have practiced in the area of law involving sales distribution, I still see things that are overlooked not only by business persons Read the rest

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

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When first selecting the format for a new business, many smaller business persons (particularly) rarely consider an LLC, unless they are alerted in the beginning by their lawyer or CPA. Their usual concerns are only:

  • “Whether to incorporate or not.”
  • And if so, “whether to select a C or S corporate form.”

Yet an LLC, for tax purposes, can be classified into whatever form of business is desired. So it should at least be considered as part of the initial process in formation of any business or investment entity.

LLCs are business entities created under state laws. They are owned … Read the rest

2014 Attorney Forum

In what has become an annual event, MANA’s Attorney Forum met in Chicago last fall to tackle a full slate of legal issues that affect independent manufacturers’ representatives. Everything from collecting unpaid commissions, to dealing with international principals and the need for written contracts was discussed by the 19 attorneys in attendance. A major benefit of this event is that rep-savvy attorneys are able to exchange experiences and best practices that they’re able to share with their agent clients.

MANA members can find a list of rep-savvy attorneys in the member area of the website, www.MANAonline.org.… Read the rest