I just got back from what turned out to be one of my favorite business trips of all time.
Now, I have visited some amazing cities on business, including Tokyo, London, Stockholm, Salzburg, and Helsinki. So when I tell you that one of my favorite business trips of all time was Salina, Kansas (population 47,846) that should mean something.
Why is this trip one of my all-time favorites? Because I got to meet with a principal who really, really “gets” the representative system of selling and a representative network of the highest caliber.
It started a few months ago. Brian Burmaster, Vortex Valves’ Vice President, Sales, contacted me to discuss adding a MANA educational component to Vortex Valves’ national sales meeting. Brian wanted to do more than just train his representatives on his products; he wanted to provide them presentations that would hone the skills they bring to bear on all of their principals’ lines.
Right away, I was very impressed. Whenever I deal with MANA principal members, I am usually struck by their commitment to the representative system of selling. But adding educational components that were not specific to his company’s products to a national sales meeting raises that commitment to a whole new level.*
Dinner with the Vortex Valves’ representatives confirmed that impression. Those representatives reported a decade, or two decades, or even three decades of association with Vortex Valves, and uniformly cited Vortex Valves’ professionalism in its dealings with representatives and the respect with which representatives were treated. One summed up the group’s sentiment in a single sentence: “If all the lines on my line card were like Vortex Valves, I would be a very happy guy!”
That’s why this was one of my favorite business trips of all time. I spent quality time with key executives of a principal that had earned the respect and admiration of its representative sales force, and with members of a representative network second to none. The icing on that cake: Vortex Valves and many of its representatives are MANA members. (As I pointed out to Vortex Valves’ representatives who are not MANA members, not being a MANA member is a correctable defect.)
A trip to visit a great principal and great reps is for me what a trip to Disney World is to a 10-year-old. So if you’re MANA’s CEO, Disney World is in Salina, Kansas.
* A tip of the hat to Charlie Ingram from Eriez Manufacturing, who also brought MANA into his international sales meeting for that same purpose in 2012.