Editorial in the Field


What is it that makes a rep successful? Is it having the most principals? The most customers? Making the most money?

While any one or all of those may be desirable, there are far more important factors that in the end provide lasting satisfaction in a successful career. There are three key attributes a rep needs in order to be successful in his business life. Let’s look at them and see how they help to increase one’s success as a rep.

The primary one is integrity. Integrity must be present in every action with the rep’s three constituents: principal, customer and the rep himself. Failure to have integrity in every word or action related to the three constituents will eventually doom the rep. Honesty and truthfulness are both relatives of integrity. There is no place for “white lies” in the tenuous business relationships nurtured and directed by reps.

Another key attribute is perseverance. Achieving a solid business relationship often takes months and years, not days and weeks. Yes, there can be that instant need satisfied by a principal’s product just waiting to be shipped. But those occurrences are few. A more typical scenario is months of patient communication and meetings with increasingly higher levels of customer management. At the same time, explanations to the principal’s question, “Why is it taking so long?” continue unabated. Meanwhile, the rep is spending his funds, wondering if he chose the right project. However, if he did choose correctly, and if he does persevere, the rep will win. Energy level and organization are relatives of perseverance. High levels of both are needed to ensure success.

Communication is the third key. As the person in the middle of every transaction, the rep must be able to synthesize the message from the customer into a form the principal understands — and vice versa. That means the rep has to have a precise understanding of the customer’s culture and the customer’s needs. Equally important, the rep must understand the culture of the principal’s company, so he fully translates their responses. As a liaison between customer and principal, the rep must assure that all communications are accurate.

The life of a rep is challenging, as he keeps multiple projects running simultaneously. The life of a rep is rewarding, as projects come to fruition.

The life of a rep is called truly successful when integrity, perseverance and honest communication are maintained in every transaction each and every day.

End of article
  • photo of David Ice

Following a 40-year sales career with large corporations, David Ice, CPMR, founded Ice & Associates, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas, in April 2000. The agency has accounts in nine Midwest states, representing 10 principals. Ice is one of the founding members of the MANA Kansas City Chapter and served as the program chairman. He completed his Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative work at Arizona State University in 2009. In 2006, Ice was elected as the MANA District 6 Director and in 2009 as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.