Editorial in the Field


A recent survey of MANA’s associate members (principals) showed that MANA has been only partially successful in its manufacturer education program. This does not come as a surprise, and looking at this from the standpoint of the glass being half full, I was somewhat encouraged by the results. But we have more work to do together.

Understand this: We’ll never convince every principal that treating reps as “Partners in Profits” (PIP) is beneficial to profitability. But we will keep trying with your help. How can you help? Get your principals to join MANA and attend one of our seminars … Read the rest

Training Principals to Work With Their Reps


“Some manufacturers operate under the premise, ‘If you build it, they will come.’” That sounds good, but the world and the marketplace don’t really work that way. That’s the view of consultant Paul Pease as he considers whether it’s important to train manufacturers in the intricacies of effectively working with their reps.

You can have the greatest invention in the world, but that means nothing if there’s no one there to buy the product,” Pease says. “It’s the job of the manufacturers’ representative to bring the customer and the product together. And it’s the manufacturer trained in effectively working with … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

Plotting a course through voice mail….

While the majority of reps we speak with count voice mail as one of the major challenges to overcome when it comes to contacting prospects and customers, one rep can count some hard-won victories in this constant battle. “I’ve got the same complaints everyone else does,” he explains. “With some customers it’s next to impossible to get in touch with the main decision-maker. One tactic I employ that’s resulted in allowing me to get by the phone ‘gatekeeper’ is to carefully schedule my phone calls. I find that if I call at 7:55 a.m., … Read the rest

Plan Ahead to Reduce Next Year’s Taxes


The key to reducing your income taxes is to plan ahead. Far too often, individuals wait until it is time to file their tax return, and by then it is too late for many of the tax-reducing strategies. A little organization and planning can lead to significant savings on your income taxes. Listed below are three options to consider when planning your tax reductions.

Retirement Planning

If your company offers a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), and you are not taking advantage of it by contributing, you are losing out on a significant tax savings opportunity. Any contributions you … Read the rest

Need a Better Way to Save For Your Retirement? Consider the Solo 401(k)


Retirement plans are a key benefit most people look for when seeking employment. But what happens when you work for yourself? When you strike out on your own, you hope to increase your income, increase your work flexibility, and experience the luxury of answering to no one; however, when you leave your employer, you leave behind the security of traditional retirement investment plans, such as corporate 401(k)s.

Sole proprietors often rely on IRAs as the method of savings for retirement when they first start out. But the amount of money one can contribute to an IRA is limited, which doesn’t … Read the rest

Thwarting Computer Attacks

In this column in the January 2006 Agency Sales, we detailed some of the dangers that could face reps who did not take the necessary steps to protect their computers against computer hackers. Those without the proper protection could fall victim to any number of attacks in the form of spam, viruses, e-mail bombs and denial of service. The column went on to detail the importance of installing a firewall that “sits between your computer and the Internet and fends off direct probes into your computer. The probes I’m talking about come from hackers and others who can pose … Read the rest

Characteristics of a Professional — Are You Serious About Your Job?


“I wish my people were more professional,” executives and managers often commiserate to me. Even with those who don’t voice it, that unspoken yearning often hovers just under the surface of their conversation.

Ah, if only the people around us were more professional. Our lives would be easier, our businesses would grow effortlessly, we’d find our jobs more fulfilling — the list of dramatic benefits can go on and on. But what does it mean to be more professional? More importantly, what can we do to make sure that we, and our associates, are becoming ever more professional?

According to … Read the rest

Consumer Products Reps Join Forces With MANA

The decision by NAGMR to avail itself of services made available by MANA does more than create a desired synergy between the two associations.

According to Ron Otto, president of the National Association of General Merchandise Representatives (NAGMR), the decision to work with MANA firmly positions his organization to expand the menu of services for its members while providing opportunities to grow the association’s membership.

For those unfamiliar with the association, NAGMR “is a professional association of consumer product brokers representing leading manufacturers to the food, drug and mass merchandise trade. NAGMR brokers are sales specialists in health & beauty … Read the rest

Creating Profitable Relationships by Earning Trust and Credibility


What counts most in a sales relationship? Without a doubt, it’s trust and credibility. You may have the world’s best selling techniques, but if prospects don’t trust you, there goes the sale. Trust and credibility together are essential for getting to the truth as quickly as possible in a sales situation — and for developing long-term relationships. Without them, you can write off a successful sales career.

Easier said than done? Here are some pointers gleaned from years of sales experience. To build trust and earn credibility, start early in the sales process by level-setting expectations. Sales involves mutual understanding … Read the rest

Manufacturers and Reps Eliminating Waste


While the conference was industry-specific — in this case the electrical industry — the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives Association’s (NEMRA) 36th Annual Conference earlier this year included two presentations that were of specific interest to manufacturers in all industries who work with manufacturers’ representatives.

The first involved initial findings of a study of how reps and their manufacturers can eliminate waste in their channel, the second was an educational session attended by reps and manufacturers and included how the former evaluates the latter.

Electrical manufacturers report that they recognize and appreciate the fact that their reps develop and maintain strong … Read the rest

Hardware Manufacturer Relies on Reps


More than 20 years ago, the A.L. Hansen Company found its business increasing at such a pace that there was no way the company’s direct sales force could keep up. It was then that the manufacturer of commercial vehicle and industrial hardware turned to manufacturers’ representatives to manage the increased sales and instantly provide them with more “feet on the street.” The business partnership worked so well that it remains intact today and has resulted in the company’s being added to the growing list of Agency Sales “Perfect Principals.”

According to Dan Davis, Vehicle Equipment Company, Inc., Dallas, Texas, “We’ve … Read the rest

The High Cost of Not Marketing


Marketing costs money — but it’s also efficient and effective. In spite of those who claim “marketing costs too much,” let me offer some reasons why just the opposite is true.

Marketing bulletproofs a business against competitive attack. Unfortunately though, most companies don’t give marketing serious attention until something goes wrong. It may be the activity of an aggressive competitor, falling sales or some internal crisis. When that happens, everyone expects marketing to kick in instantly and solve the problem.

Companies — all companies — are vulnerable to competitive attack when they fail to create a legacy of marketplace credibility. … Read the rest

Go From Good to Great: Boosting Your Sales Career


Many experienced sales professionals don’t see the need for continuous improvement. They often think, “I’ve been selling for 15 years, so I must be great.” However, number of years’ experience is not a measure of excellence. Such thinking can limit sales professionals from achieving a higher level of success.

Just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t need to improve. Oftentimes people get satisfied at just being good at what they do. Then they stop doing all the little things that made them great, such as using a pre-call checklist, asking for referrals and … Read the rest