9-1-1 Emergency


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It was April 11, 2016. Something very, very bad was about to happen to manufacturers’ agents who sell to the State of California.

New legislation that would in many cases classify manufacturers’ agents as lobbyists was about to become law. California forbids lobbyists from receiving contingent compensation (such as sales commission). Once classified as lobbyists, manufacturers’ agents would be prohibited from receiving sales commission on sales to the State of California.

And the bill conveniently excluded direct sales forces from these restrictions.

The state’s procurement department knew this was a terrible idea. But where could they turn to quickly rally opposition?

They turned to the rep association that spans across all industries and markets: MANA.

In just days MANA researched the bill, interviewed California lobbyists, hired a lobbyist, and joined forces with California’s Department of Finance and Fair Political Practices Commission, which also opposed this bill.

MANA authored a formal letter of opposition, and invited MANA California members and all other rep associations to weigh in with their own letters.

Despite our best efforts, on May 3, 2016 California’s Assembly and Senate passed the bill unanimously.

Our only hope: a veto from California Governor Edmund G. Brown.

On May 3, 2016 MANA submitted a new formal letter of opposition to the Governor, and followed up with a legislative fact sheet. And again we invited MANA California members and all other rep associations to write letters of opposition.

On May 13, Governor Brown vetoed this bill, and as of this writing the California legislature has not chosen to override his veto. Just 32 days after MANA was first notified of this anti-rep legislation, the Governor was putting his signature on its veto.

Sometimes prospective MANA members ask me about the benefits of MANA membership. We usually talk about matchmaking between reps and principals, Agency Sales magazine, MANA’s educational materials, and our specimen representative agreement.

But after this experience, I will have to add one more benefit of membership. Without your support, MANA would not exist. And without MANA, when some terribly misguided anti-rep law is being considered in your state’s legislature, who would you call for help?

In some respects, MANA is like 9-1-1. You may go a long time without calling 9‑1‑1, but part of its value is the peace of mind you get from knowing you are just one phone call away for emergency services that will arrive with red lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Because of your support, we’re here when you need us. Rep emergency? Call MANA!


May 13, 2016

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 1200 without my signature.

This bill would revise the definition of “lobbyist” in the Political Reform Act of 1974 to include specified conduct by third-party consultants who work to influence governmental procurement.

Given that the laws regulating state procurement are voluminous and already contain ample opportunity for public scrutiny, I don’t believe this bill is necessary.



Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Membership May Have Its Privileges, but Multiple Memberships Are Better


When a sales representative looks across the landscape of professional associations they will see a near-boundless variety of choices. Some choices are defined by vertical representation and industry-specific expertise. Other choices provide diverse representation focusing on the needs of a role within the sales process. And then there are mixed professional organizations offering an amalgam of industry- and role-specific expertise.

When confronted with these opportunities, the natural question is not, Which association is right for me?, but rather, Is membership in one association or many associations right for my business goals?

As the president of a vertically focused professional … Read the rest

Multiple Association Membership Pays Dividends for Reps


In addition to MANA, there are well over 30 independent manufacturers’ representatives’ associations. Is this an example of unneeded duplication? Hardly. MANA differs from the others in that it’s what would be considered a horizontal association that serves the needs of independent agents across a variety of industries. The others (e.g., NEMRA, ERA, MAFSI, PTRA, AIM/R, HIRA) promote the profession vertically within their specific-industry niches.

While long advocating the need for independent agents to get together to network, educate and advocate for their profession, MANA has steadfastly maintained that there are multiple ways that these industry-specific organizations can benefit agencies … Read the rest

What the Future Holds for Reps


Acknowledging the reality that there’s hardly a tried-and-true formula that will guarantee success for independent manufacturers’ representatives, John Haskell (Dr. Revenue) remains adamant that “Reps who present their agencies as total professional sales organizations” have more than a leg up on the competition.

When he is asked to share his thoughts on the immediate and longer-term future of the rep profession, Haskell, a long-time contributor to Agency Sales and a regular presenter at rep meetings and conferences, maintains that it’s the agent’s job to explain his role to customers and principals and to act as his own chief advocate for … Read the rest

MANA and Representatives: The Right Fit for This Manufacturer


Bob Buchman remembered a couple of things he learned from his previous position before joining Systecon, Inc., as the company’s industrial sales manager. Those couple of things were:

  • The value of working with independent manufacturers’ representatives.
  • The assistance MANA provides manufacturers when it comes to connecting with an outsourced sales force.

According to Buchman, Systecon, located in West Chester, Ohio, has only been a MANA member since the middle of April. “In that short period of time I have found the organization — as well as the tools associated with membership — to be outstanding.” He continues that he was … Read the rest

Flexibility the Key to Success for Manufacturer Turned Rep


Uncomfortably armed with no customers and little or no knowledge of the territory, Danny Dodge took a leap of faith more than 20 years ago — and he’s glad he did. Dodge who heads Component Solutions, LLC, Alamo, California, explains that when he had the opportunity to move from a position as sales manager with a Texas manufacturer to the California Bay area, he relished the opportunity for a number of reasons.

“I was working for a family-owned business and we managed to grow the business tenfold. When a couple of things began to happen including some internal turmoil, I … Read the rest

Building Professional Relationships


In order to be a skillful salesperson it’s essential to understand your client’s behavior and personality as well as their particular needs and preferences in relating to you. A successful salesperson is always trying to “figure out people.” It’s helpful to understand the psychology of communication. Your own success will be enhanced when you show a client that you are truly interested in working with them, and that you want to build a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

Understanding Your Clients

Make relationships part of your success. Each client is unique, and you must adapt your style to help them feel … Read the rest

Applying Game Theory to Selling: Can It Accelerate Performance?


Simply stated, Game theory is “the study of mathematical models.” It is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which one person’s gains resulted in another’s loss. Game theory is a study of the ways in which interactions produce outcomes — because of this, it could be applied to selling.


The mathematical theory of games was invented in the mid ’40s. Since that time, there has been quite an evolution as to how it is used as a tool to help determine outcomes based on the predictability of the players and circumstances … Read the rest

The Biggest Mistakes in Sales Presentations


The sales presentation is the ultimate purpose of every sales process, of every sales call, and of every sales system. The job of the salesperson revolves around the point in time when he offers the customer something to buy.

The sales presentation can take a variety of forms. If you demonstrate a product, for example, that is a sales presentation. If you use a hard-copy brochure or a presentation on your lap-top, that is a sales presentation. If you deliver and detail a sample, that is a sales presentation. If you respond to the customer’s request, and provide a price, … Read the rest

Unusual Strategies for Closing More Sales


Selling is a tough profession — and from all economic indicators, it may not be getting much easier anytime soon. Just about everyone in sales will experience cautious, reticent, buyers who are expecting more for less. Don’t expect to see this change. While the cup is at least half full, buyers may be seeing it differently for quite some time.

If this is what the real world is like today and is where salespeople find themselves every morning, what should they be doing? To get ahead of the competition and to put more business on your company’s books, here are … Read the rest

Holding Salespeople Accountable


One of the biggest issues I see when it comes to managing sales teams is a lack of accountability. Here are several steps to address this particular problem.

Set High Standards During the Hiring Process

Whatever your standard expectations are for your salespeople, double those expectations when talking to a potential new hire. For example, if you expect your salespeople to make 50 phone calls a day, tell the candidate it’s 100. If you expect them to go out and knock on 25 doors a day, tell them it’s 50. If you expect them to work until 7 at night, … Read the rest

How the Small Guy Gets Rep Attention


A small manufacturer was extremely realistic when he contacted Agency Sales to describe what he did to get more of his reps’ attention. According to the manufacturer, “We’re hardly big enough or bring in enough business to rank high on our reps’ line cards. Our relative small size is one of the major reasons we’ve followed the rep business model for taking our product line national. We’d never be able to afford the investment it would take to have a direct sales force. On top of that, I don’t think we’d get the coverage we need with direct salespeople. Here’s … Read the rest

Should Social Media Replace Cold Calling?


People continue to say how cold calling is dead and how in today’s environment, it no longer can be cost justified. The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Let me deal with the “no” first.

In the past few months, I’ve watched numerous salespeople shift all of their prospecting efforts to developing social media with such vehicles as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. The problem with this is it becomes a giant time sucker. The payout of social media in terms of developing sales short-term is very poor.

To develop a social media strategy requires time, and I’m a firm believer … Read the rest

Trade Secret Protection Terms in Rep Agreements


This is the second of two articles covering the subjects of restraint of trade and trade secrets. This article examines trade secret protection.

Yet another potential hurdle in the rep’s efforts to avoid or limit the principal’s desire to restrain post-termination competition arises in the form of the need to protect trade secrets, which is recognized in some manner by every state. Most states have adopted statutes that are based on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), and as of 2016 there is a new federal Defense of Trade Secrets Act, so there are some common features of trade secrets … Read the rest

Manufacturers Continue to Drive Agenda in Washington

Key Vote Program Has Kept NAM Issues Top of Mind for Policymakers

With the release of its Congressional Voting Record on September 29, 2016 (www.nam.org/votingrecord) the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is highlighting the strength of manufacturers’ advocacy by recognizing more than 300 champions in the 114th Congress. The NAM continues to lead by driving the agenda in Washington, and as a result, Congress is taking action on an increasing number of key manufacturing priorities.

“Manufacturers have mobilized and spoken out, and we have seen Congress respond. This year, members of Congress have taken action on more legislation essential to … Read the rest