Editorial in the Field


To my pleasant surprise, I was asked to write about being a rep involved in consumer products. I have been a MANA member for about 10 years because of its focus on raising the bar of professionalism and conduct for both reps and manufacturers. I also belong to the International Housewares Representatives Association (IHRA), so I am one of the many reps that belong to two associations.

When I talk about consumer products, I refer to housewares and hardware products like picture frames, dinnerware, plastic storage, glassware, brushes and brooms, towels, stuffed animals, giftware pots and pans, etc. Specialized markets … Read the rest

Capital Equipment Reps Exchange Strategies During Conference

Time-tested strategies reps have employed to secure big-ticket lines were described for attendees at MANA’s first CAPSIG (Capital Equipment Special Interest Group) conference in Louisville, Kentucky. A panel of reps experienced in representing capital equipment manufacturers outlined several of the steps they’ve taken to effectively meet the needs of their principals and customers as they attract, manage and retain those lines that are so critical to their success.

“We tend to focus in three areas when we’re seeking new lines,” explained one of the panel’s participants. “The first thing we do is take a look at the lines we presently … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

The dangers of 24/7 communication….

While the wonders of technology continue to provide the manufacturers’ representative with the 24/7 contact he needs to do his job more efficiently, the same technology also brings with it a spate of potential dangers when it comes to staying connected on the road. By “on the road,” we mean specifically on the highway, behind the steering wheel, experiencing windshield time. When a couple of reps recounted their minor fender-bender stories owing to the fact they were not paying sufficient attention to their driving tasks, we accessed some tips on this subject courtesy of Advanced … Read the rest

How Many Mutual Funds Are Too Many?


You’ve probably heard for years that diversification is one of the keys to successful money management. And as many employees of scandalized companies have recently learned, lack of diversification can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and possibly none at all. (Note, however, that diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market). But are you one of those investors who collects mutual funds like other people take aspirin? If two are good, then four must be better?

It’s easy to get into the rut of owning an overabundance of funds. You might have … Read the rest

Proposed Roth 401(k): Coming Soon to a Retirement Plan Near You


We all have seen the statistics that people are living longer. Experts are predicting that Americans who turned 65 in 2000 are expected to live another 18 years, on average. Unfortunately, many are finding themselves financially unprepared for the length of their retirement, and are being forced to return to the workforce well into their golden years.

In an effort to help individuals save more for a retirement that will likely be longer and more costly than ever, a new employer-sponsored retirement vehicle is set to debut in early 2006. It’s called the Roth 401(k) and, as it sounds, combines … Read the rest

Assessing the Spyware Plague

When one rep complained about how slowly his computer was operating, two of his breakfast partners simultaneously hissed the word “Spyware.” When he passed on his questions about spyware to Agency Sales magazine, we went to an expert.

Three years ago, if a computer user ventured online minus the proper protection, it might take him 15 minutes to get infected with some form of spyware. Today, give him in the neighborhood of 15 seconds before he falls victim to the same fate.

That’s what David A. Milman, founder and CEO of RESCUECOM, a Syracuse, New York-based franchisor in the computer … Read the rest

Consumer Reps Encounter Similar Trends and Challenges


For the independent manufacturers’ representative serving the consumer goods segment of the marketplace, there are more similarities than differences when comparing their business climate and accompanying trends and challenges to those of their peers in other industries. At least that’s the picture painted from conversations with reps who serve that consumer segment.

At the outset of Agency Sales’ interviews with three consumer-oriented reps the question was asked, “What’s the same and what’s different between your experiences and those of reps serving electrical, electronic, industrial and other markets?” As one, each of the reps responded, “Tell me what’s going on in … Read the rest

HIRA Serves Reps in the Healthcare Field

Independent manufacturers’ representatives involved in the health care industry face the same “good news-bad news” scenario that reps in other industries encounter. The obvious good news is that the health care industry is always going to be with us — it’s not going anywhere. As a matter of fact, it will probably grow in importance in this country.

The bad — or at least challenging — news is that just as reps in other industries used to “own” the buying influence, the landscape has changed as the pace of mergers/consolidations and growth of group purchasing organizations (GPO) has picked up. … Read the rest

Blitzing Your Way to Sales Success


“Frustrated with your company’s inability to develop new customers? Try a sales blitz.”

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is this: “I can’t seem to motivate the salespeople to call on prospects and develop them into new customers.” There is a relatively simple, fun and inexpensive way to remedy this situation. It’s called a sales blitz. Unfortunately, few companies are even aware of it, and fewer yet use it.

Here’s the problem. Most B2B sales efforts are organized around a sales rep who is responsible for a specific set of accounts, or a specific geographical … Read the rest

Improving Sales Force Performance


Reps who attended Keystone 2005 in Louisville, Kentucky, got a sampling of what Bob Nadeau, Industrial Performance Group, has to offer when he made a presentation entitled “Selling Value.”

Now Nadeau has come out with information contained in a study his organization has done that reflects on the challenges that manufacturers face with getting the most out of their sales forces. Inherent in what he has to report is the fact that much of what the sales force faces isn’t always directly related to the face-to-face contact with the customer. Instead, much time and effort is wasted on other efforts … Read the rest

A Perfect Principal Doubleheader


When Harold Armstrong was asked for his recommendation for the “Perfect Principal,” he couldn’t stop at one — so he went on to provide two manufacturers to add to the list of principals that Agency Sales began two years ago. Armstrong’s recommendations are:

  • BETE Fog Nozzle, Inc., Greenfield, Massachusetts, manufacturers of more than 20,000 different nozzles. The company pioneered the use of Teflon and titanium for nozzles, and is the only nozzle manufacturer with a complete in-house investment casting foundry.
  • Conbraco Industries, Inc., Matthews, North Carolina, manufactures brass valves and fittings including the Apollo Series 70 ball valve
Read the rest

The Presentation Trap


Why Making Presentations Can Cost You the Sale

In many conversations with sales professionals, I am often surprised that even the most sophisticated professionals get caught in the presentation trap. They spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for a razzle‑dazzle presentation and often lose sight of the issues at hand. Everything salespeople do before — the prospecting, contacting and qualifying of potential customers — seems to be aimed at creating the opportunity to present their solutions. Everything after — the downhill run to the sale itself that includes overcoming objectives, negotiating and closing — is designed to support and … Read the rest

Meet Jerry Leth

Although he’s been a member of the MANA staff for only a little over five years, Jerry Leth, the association’s manager of membership, has a rep track record stretching back several years beyond that time.

Prior to joining the MANA staff in 2000, Leth had carved out a successful career for himself as an independent manufacturers’ representative. “I started as a rep serving the nuclear power generating industry,” he explains. “When the passage of the Energy Deregulation Act of 1994 adversely affected the business, however, I followed the recommendation of another rep and made contact with a company that made … Read the rest