Why Don’t Business Schools Teach Students About Reps?

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© Nataliya Dolotko | stock.adobe.com

Getting information about manufacturers’ representatives taught in business schools has been a long-term MANA priority. And we’ve been successful in earning opportunities to do presentations about manufacturers’ representatives at Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, University of Arizona, The College of New Jersey, University of Cincinnati, and Kent State, for example.

But presentations reach only students who attend. To reach students year after year, MANA content needs to be part of a school’s curriculum instead of just being part of a MANA presentation.

Now for the first time MANA content is part of a University curriculum as part of MKTG4471 — International Marketing at Thompson Rivers University Open Learning, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.


Thank you to the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA) for granting us permission to use your video Understanding Manufacturers’ Reps. Full credit according to standard academic practice will be given to the work.

Thompson Rivers University (www.tru.ca) is a publicly funded, not-for-profit institution in British Columbia, Canada. The Open Learning Division develops distance education curriculum using a combination of material developed in-house, adopted textbooks and third-party copyright owned works. We rely heavily on materials produced by organizations, such as yours, that are willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

This video was found on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apng2eKmZtY. Our Subject Material Expert (SME) was pleased to be able to use the video in our in-house developed online course MKTG4471 — International Marketing. Understanding Manufacturers’ Reps is a valuable addition to the course material.

Patricia Stachiw
Intellectual Property Officer
Thompson Rivers University Open Learning


Developing content that speaks to business school students is an investment in the future of our industry. We look forward to reporting future successes engaging with business schools and working to increase the visibility of outsourcing field sales with college students who are the business leaders of tomorrow.

The Value of Networking With Your Peers

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We can all be very busy as we remain focused on the day-to-day activities of staying in front of our customers. From time to time, however, it’s important to perform activities that allow us to entertain alternate and new perspectives to what we are already doing well. The very exercise of moving out of your own bubble and connecting with similar but diverse organizations can put a shot into our growth and increase our value to the principals we represent.

This leads me to two questions that are asked and answered by Geri Stengel, founder of Ventureneer, in the article … Read the rest

Line Card Profitability Analysis Workbook

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Manufacturers’ representative firms have a lot in common with Olympic rowers. Just to qualify to compete we have to be fast, agile and impressive performers.

But when it comes to line card profitability analysis, some of us forget what Olympic rowers know: To be winners, you have to take the boat out of the water regularly to clean and wax the bottom. And before the rowers get back in the boat, make sure that all of them really still belong on the team.

Instead of doing regular maintenance, we just row harder. Instead of replacing weak line card performers, we … Read the rest

The Company Sales Meeting: Creating a Focal Point

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Professional meetings build wins!

Sitting through and participating in a rep firm’s first annual sales meeting yielded many conclusions that can be very helpful to all agencies and their principals.

At the top level the value of the sales meeting cannot be overstated. The meeting forces the rep firm to look at what is going on and what is really important to communicate to all members of the sales team.

Professional Meetings Set Records

From the principal’s point of view when their reps are getting together to review the past year and plan the next, the principal is a prime … Read the rest

MANA and SCORE: A Good Marriage

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At the very least, conversations with MANA members in the Rochester, New York, area indicate that there’s a beneficial marriage to be made between the products/services offered by MANA and those provided by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).

Even before getting into what those Upstate New York business people have to say, however, it’s useful to visit both MANA’s (www.manaonline.org) and SCORE’s (www.score.org) respective websites. It’s there that visitors will see the full range of support programs that will offer reps the best path to success in the future.

While association members and regular readers of Agency SalesRead the rest

Following Listening Guidelines

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Ineffective listening is the norm.

Salespeople in other industries are no better at listening, and as a result not much better at closing. Fortunately, listening can be learned quickly. Listening is not the thing to do while waiting to talk. Instead, listening is the most intimate gift given to another person. How often are others so attentive, you actually feel heard? It is as rare as “hen’s teeth” to experience salespeople who actually listen.

Talking, unfortunately, sabotages the majority of the sales that are lost.

When salespeople are asked why they lose deals, about 100 percent of the time they’ll … Read the rest

How to Avoid Making Stupid Mistakes

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Most mistakes are just plain stupid. “I just wasn’t thinking,” we say. Stupid mistakes aren’t intentional. But the genie is out of the bottle. The damage is done.

Sure, we can try to “minimize the damage” by claiming “We’re only human” and dismiss it with “Everybody makes mistakes.” Not today. As the news makes clear, there’s no place to hide. Everything is transparent. Both individuals and businesses suffer from the harm caused by stupid mistakes.

So, what do we do about it? Hope for the best? Ride it out? Or, pretend it wasn’t that important? Here’s how to avoid making … Read the rest

Writing a “Knock Your Socks Off” Service Culture Plan

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One of the major weaknesses of most organizations is the top management’s lack of a service strategy. They fail to realize the strategic opportunity of how to use superior service as a vehicle to build market share and market dominance.

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, one of the most powerful retailers in the world, built a service role model. Sam built Walmart on customer service. They are now known for price only. The value of their company as a service leader has dropped dramatically. They have lost their focus on customer service. I always had trouble understanding why the … Read the rest

The Sales Power of Reps

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The following by Scott Lau, Scott Lau Consulting, Midlothian, Virginia, appeared on MANA’s LinkedIn discussion page earlier this year. His consulting firm specializes in working with independent manufacturers’ representatives to increase sales and profitability and with small and medium-sized American and international manufacturers of architectural products to improve sales force effectiveness and increase sales.

While the emphasis of his column is on the effectiveness of the independent manufacturers’ representative in the building materials industry, his message certainly applies to other industries.

The goal of building material manufacturers is to maximize sales at the lowest possible cost and at the same … Read the rest

Some Social Media Guidance

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Three books issue especially compelling warnings about the consequences of the careless use of social media. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson, Influence Redefined, by Stacey Hanke, and Got Social Mediology?, by Jay Izso, point out that social media practitioners should be aware that even the most offhand comments or critical views can cause lasting damage to a business.

Ronson relies heavily on real-world examples of mistakes individuals have made that have had a lasting impact on their lives and careers. Everything from a passing Twitter comment that was deemed racist, an insensitive joke transmitted … Read the rest

Assignment and Delegations of Contractual Obligations

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Parties enter into their contracts with the understanding that each will faithfully discharge their respective undertakings.

It is expected that each party will personally perform under the contract. Typically, contracts provide that the contract may not be assigned by a party without the consent of the other. But, what are the practical and thus legal restraints that these obligations impose on the parties? This article will address issues that may arise from a sales representative point of view, under such restraints, many of which may be avoided by simply anticipating possible future changes in the relationship with the principal.

Something … Read the rest

Perspectives on the New Tax Law, Specifically for Reps

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Much has been published and much is still to be published on the impact of the new federal tax law recently made effective generally as of January 1, 2018. Based on our experiences with the operation, management and sale of manufacturers’ rep agencies, here are some thoughts on the new tax laws.

S vs. C Corporation

For a number of years, the S corporation has been the entity of choice for manufacturers’ representatives because S corporations themselves generally are not taxed. Instead, the income or loss of an S corporation rep agency is taxed at the shareholder level. In addition, … Read the rest

Davis, Fowler, Juline Re-Elected

MANA is pleased to announce that John Davis, Stephen Fowler, and Ed Juline all have been re-elected to serve a second two-year term on MANA’s Board of Directors.

photo of John DavisJohn, Davis, President
Paul Davis Automation, Inc.

As a second-generation owner of my family’s firm, I am committed to long-term success in the rep business and, as such, am passionate about promoting and sustaining the general health, longevity, and relevancy of the manufacturer’s representative model.

In my final two-year term on MANA’s Board of Directors I will continue to bring fresh ideas and innovative angles that address the organizational challenges MANA faces … Read the rest

MAC March Meeting Report

At the March luncheon, 25 members of Manufacturers’ Agents of Cincinnati (MAC) were fortunate to have Steve McLemore of The Goering Center as guest speaker. McLemore has extensive experience in the business community, and his discussion on the “10 Best Practices of Successful Family and Private Businesses” was timely and very well received.

Cincinnati is fortunate to have a resource like The Goering Center — a not-for-profit whose mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy.

For information on future MAC meetings visit their website at www.maccincinnati.org.

MAC meetingRead the rest