Editorial in the Field


After 35 years in the rep business, I cannot help but reminisce about what my kids refer to as “the old days.” Often we made deals with a handshake, told our principals we would do a good job for them, went out and did it, and never worried about receiving our check.

My, how times have changed (and I am sure for the better). We have become much better businesspeople. Selling is just not selling anymore, but a combination of sales, marketing, consulting, accounting and much more.

When interviewing for a new line, the first two questions we ask are: … Read the rest

From the Jaws of Defeat: Snaring a Sweet Multi-Million-Dollar Settlement Instead of Accepting Termination


MANA referral counsel Gerry Newman, Dan Beederman and Adam Glazer of Schoenberg, Fisher, Newman & Rosenberg, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois, report on an unlikely settlement recently scored by five sales reps facing termination when, in an increasingly common scenario, their long-time principal is acquired by a company with a direct sales force.

The market for the revolutionary sugar substitute products it had helped develop over the last five years was approaching maturity. After five years of intensive demand-creation work for the latest and greatest sweetener to reach the Midwest, the Michigan-based sales rep firm known as Mich-sugah was on the verge … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

Rep finds support for his value-add….

Given the Steelers’ run through the playoffs and ultimate victory in this year’s Super Bowl game, it’s appropriate that a manufacturers’ rep in the Pittsburgh area would employ a strategy of a “good defense is a good offense” when going face-to-face with a customer intent on squeezing him out of his commission. That’s exactly what P.J. Simpson, Repsource, Inc., Greensburg, Pennsylvania, did last year. Part of the defense he employed to ensure a favorable turnout (for now) included contacting MANA and his principal to support the telling of his “value-add” story.

Here’s how things … Read the rest

Rep Agency Mergers and Acquisitions


The ability for a rep agency owner to transfer the value of his agency may ultimately depend upon his or her viability as a candidate for a merger or acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions of rep agencies have become quite common and have grown out of a number of factors from the buyer, seller and merger standpoints.


The seller can only sell his agency to either key people or a compatible rep agency in the marketplace. He may not have successors in the agency or the offer from the buyer may be too lucrative. The seller may have also lost … Read the rest

The Dow at 11,000: What’s in a Number?


In January of this year, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 11,000 for the first time since 2001, causing much optimism among investors. However, as the Dow continues to hover around the 11,000 mark, the words “psychological barrier” seem to be everywhere. So, what exactly does it mean to say the 11,000 mark is more of a psychological milestone than anything else?

As the longest-running major market index, the Dow has a strong symbolic value, and gets a lot of attention from investors, the media and the general public. But as a collection of only 30 blue-chip stocks selected … Read the rest

Become a Platform Agnostic and a Customer Zealot


Mac vs. PC? Unix vs. BeOS? Linux? What is the best platform to use? Is it Mac or PC?

In today’s environment it doesn’t matter. I’ve come to believe that we need to be agnostic about which platform to use but religious zealots when it comes to serving customers.

Recently I reviewed the new MS Office 2001 for Mac. I have used MS Office for many years and currently am using Office 2000.

Office 2001 for Mac provides Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with Entourage, a nice e-mail program and personal information manager. This program, similar to Outlook 2000, syncs … Read the rest

Practical Tips for Representing International Principals


The following business tips were offered by Florentino Ramirez, Ramirez & Associates, P.C., Dallas, Texas. Ramirez, who has participated in the MANA-sponsored Attorney Symposiums, has previously been featured in the pages of Agency Sales magazine.

Preparation and due diligence are critical when it comes to representing international principals. Those and other points are emphasized in a list of steps manufacturers’ representatives should take prior to entering into an agreement with a foreign — not to mention a domestic — manufacturer.

Tip #1:

Before negotiating, the rep should make every effort to gather as much information as possible concerning the foreign … Read the rest

Getting the Right Fit and Making It Work


A small and relatively young (four years old) technology company, Enfield Technologies was quick to answer the call when MANA and Agency Sales asked manufacturers to provide their thoughts on what constituted the “Perfect Rep.” The result is the second in our series of articles describing what many manufacturers are looking for in their marketing partners. This time the marketing partner is MANA member Prime Systems Network, Inc., Medina, Ohio.

According to Rich McDonnell, vice president of the Trumbull, Connecticut-based Enfield, a provider of advanced automation control solutions, “I think we may have a unique perspective on this subject.”

The … Read the rest

Under the Influence: Key Behaviors for Sales Breakthroughs


You can move people to action better with persuasion than with power. Think of those people in your life who have drawn you in and made an impression on you. Maybe they’ve convinced you to take action without seeming pushy or panicky, merely stressing the necessity and benefit of what they wanted you to do. Or maybe they won you over through their empathy, seeming to truly understand your point of view.

Consciously or unconsciously, those who have a powerful effect on us use a set of key influencing behaviors. And you can have the same effect on clients when … Read the rest

Communicate and Appreciate


One MANA member, Dean Baum of Southrep, Inc., Newnan, Georgia, has been reading the series of articles in Agency Sales devoted to the Perfect Principal. After carefully following the series, he’s come away with some thoughts that he generously offers to principals.

“The words ‘Perfect Principal’ sound like something you might hear in a ‘pep rally,’ and maybe they are. In this case, maybe you — the principal — are our source of ‘pep.’

“Remember, the rep is out in the field or alone much of the time. He has a tendency to work more for those who communicate and … Read the rest

Is It Sales and Marketing or Marketing and Sales?


Without exception, every salesperson is a marketer, although oftentimes a frustrated one. To prove the point, recall what salespeople are always talking about. They never stop trying to figure out a way to grab the customer’s attention, find the customer’s pain or push a customer’s hot button. But that’s not sales — it’s marketing.

When salespeople speak this way, they think they’re just trying to figure out how to get the order. In reality, they’re actually attempting to get inside the customer’s head. They know if they can do that, they will get the customer to say “yes.”

No matter … Read the rest

Questions Seal the Deal


In selling situations, the problem the prospect brings you is rarely the actual issue or concern.

Your job as the salesperson (i.e., problem solver) is to uncover the problems and identify the real issues. By spending the time up front asking intelligent questions, you’ll be able to provide real value to the client down the road. And, if you discover there’s nothing for you to help with, move on.

The key is to slow down early in the process to ask the questions necessary to gain understanding and insight. What’s your rush? Before plunging in, determine if the prospect is … Read the rest

Protecting Your Good Accounts From the Competition


We all know the feeling. Your key contact in one of your good accounts sheepishly admits that they have moved some business to a competitor. No problem with your service, it was just a price issue.

Nothing is more discouraging. You’ve spent years developing this account, building relationships, working hard at meeting their needs, and then, in the blink of an eye, you lose the business to a price-cutter.

Is there anything you can do to prevent this? Of course. Here are proven strategies that will help you prevent your hard-earned business from disappearing into the hands of price-cutting competition.… Read the rest