Rep Education


You have heard it all before, right? How about mentoring?

MANA offers many forms of rep education in the pages of Agency Sales magazine, from presenters at MANA local seminars, at rep conferences such as Keystone and CAPSIG, during Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representatives (CPMR) classes, and at local networking chapter meetings. Have you taken full advantage of the resources MANA provides to its members in the area of education, and more importantly, have you shared them with fellow reps?

As owners of professional sales organizations, we owe it to our principals, our customers, and our profession to constantly improve upon … Read the rest

Manufacturer Treats Reps Like Partners in Profit


MANA has long championed the concept of reps and their principals treating each other as “Partners in Profit” (PIP). The relationship between Leonard Valve Company and its outsourced sales partners is what we have been speaking about for 58 years.

Even though he wasn’t there at the time, Gregory Wilcox, president and co-owner of Leonard Valve Company, points to the 1920s as the time when his company made the commitment to go to market with independent manufacturers’ representatives. “I’ve been here 34 years,” he says, “so while I may not know all the particulars of why they made that decision, … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

The power of personal relations….

“Whenever I’ve reached the point in negotiations for a line that I’m anxious to obtain and I sense the manufacturer just needs that extra push, I do something; I do something that I’m not sure other reps would do.” That’s how one rep described the extra effort he would make if it came to getting or not getting the super-synergistic line he’s looking for. “During the prospective principal’s visit to my office, I’ll plan a couple of calls in the field with some of my best customers. I do that to show him the real … Read the rest

Partners in Profits or Adversaries?


How some manufacturers destroy bottom lines with short-term thinking.

The business press has commented regularly about the quarterly earnings, short‑term management philosophy of U.S. companies versus the longer term and strategic approach of public concerns in other countries. Fortunately, many companies that use reps take the more strategic approach, which includes treating their outsourced sales force as partners.

We heard from a couple of MANA rep firm members recently that their manufacturers decided to arbitrarily change the terms of the representation agreement. In one case, the proposed contract revision was to change commissions from a percentage of the net sales … Read the rest

Defined Benefit Plans: Breathing New Life Into a Coveted Benefit


Mention defined benefit plan to most employees and their reaction is, “Wouldn’t that be nice.” Defined benefit plans — where employers set aside money in a retirement plan that guarantees benefits after a certain number of years of service — have been in rapid decline for more than a decade.

Why? Ask employers: High cost, complex regulations and actuarial calculations, potential under-funding issues.

Pose the same question to a small business: “Totally out of the question” is the likely response. In actuality, a defined benefit plan may be one of the most accessible — and desirable — benefits for a … Read the rest

How Reps Can Get the Most From Google


Reps have come to rely on Google for a lot. Sure, you use Google for searching. This is a particularly useful tool when looking at what is happening with customers, and we can use it to look up competitive prices on various components. This search engine has permeated our culture and world in such a profound way that it is now part of our vocabulary (“I’ll Google that and find out”). We have turned the name of the company into a verb. When we Americans do that, you know it is integrally woven into our culture.

Yet, do you know … Read the rest

Training in the Mix as Manufacturer Builds Rep Force Training


Among the stops that Catherine Zhou has made in her career before arriving at Innotex Global Services was a stay with a machining company. Her tenure there educated her to the efficiencies of working with independent manufacturers’ representatives and — with the additional knowledge she gained by attending a MANA Manufacturer Seminar — she hasn’t forgotten the lessons she learned.

Today Zhou is charged with building an independent manufacturers’ rep network for the Franklin, Tennessee-based manufacturer, Innotex Global Services, who provides China offshore outsourcing and contract manufacturing services from its factories in China.

Zhou notes that the majority (80 percent) … Read the rest

Training Program Pays Off Big Time


When Paul Lunsford, CPMR, thinks back to 2001 when he signed on with a sales coach for the reps who make up his sales team, he doesn’t bemoan for a moment the time, effort and expense. Rather, he considers where he would be today without that effort.

According to Lunsford, president of AIM/R-member Manufacturers Marketing, Inc., (MMI), Westfield, Indiana, his continued emphasis on rep training serves as just another weapon in the battle to develop a “competitive edge.”

“My philosophy, and the philosophy of our agency, is that no one in our organization should ever stop learning,” he says. “The … Read the rest

Recognition for Proficiency in Technology

Training in the areas of sales improvement, product familiarity and how to run their businesses more professionally head the list when reps discuss the areas they are most concerned with. Not far behind — and becoming more important — is the area of technology. As high-tech tools become more affordable and more available to reps, it’s the rep who knows how to use them more productively that is going to stand head and shoulders above the competition. The rep who is going to garner the most attention is the one who lets his principals and prospective principals know how technologically … Read the rest

Why Salespeople Are Unhappy


When a manufacturer complained how the lack of tenure among his direct sales force coupled with the expense of maintaining the factory salespeople was crippling his sales activities — not to mention his bottom line — he listened attentively when we cited the following study.

“One in five sales workers are not happy in their current positions, and 33% say they plan to change jobs by the end of the year, according to a recent survey. Workers cite dissatisfaction with pay, increased workload and the lack of career advancement opportunities as the leading factors influencing their decisions to look … Read the rest

Canadian Repping: News Update on Border Crossing

The following is good or bad news depending upon what side of the Canadian-United States border an individual resides on. The website Connect2 that Agency Sales magazine introduced its readers to last year reports on a change in the documentation that will be required for crossing the border. At first glance it appears a positive for U.S. business people crossing into Canada — but not necessarily so for Canadian business people traveling south.

According to a report that appeared on the website, only 40 percent of Canadians have a passport. By the end of the year, Canadians traveling to … Read the rest

How Important or Fatal Is a Strong Ego to Sales Success?


Which type of ego is more destructive for your business: one that is aimed toward conquest of accounts and assertive behavior to find, sell and deliver business, or one that focuses on internal destruction, empire building and self or departmental protection?

That is an interesting question, isn’t it? Research clearly shows that a strong ego is essential for sales success. It is also essential in strong leaders and effective executives and managers.

Here’s the rub: An out‑of‑bounds ego can get in the way of a lot of things. Friendships, business relationships, business strategies, alliances, careers and even entire companies have … Read the rest

CPMR Spells Success for Reps and Manufacturers

A question concerning rep training that was asked of manufacturers selling through independent manufacturers’ representatives elicited a mixed response. The question was, “Does the CPMR designation following a rep’s name carry any special significance for you?”

While not all manufacturers were familiar with the MRERF-administered educational program, the majority of those queried from the industries served by PTRA, AIM/R and especially NEMRA professed a knowledge and a keen appreciation for the program and for the reps who have completed it.

In fact, for a number of electrical manufacturers, the letters CPMR spell “success” and “professionalism.” And if that’s the case, … Read the rest