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. Added to that is the fact that the rep who lets his principals and prospective principals know how technologically apt he is will garner the greatest amount of attention.
In recognition of the fact that agencies should do all they can to educate their personnel on the efficient use of these tools — whether hardware or software — MAFSI and MANA are partnering in an effort that will allow agencies to exhibit to principals their proficiency in using these tools.
According to Suzanne Fraga, MAFSI director of communications, a major reason why this connection was made between MANA and MAFSI is: “We’ve found there isn’t all that much difference between reps serving different industries. As a result, both associations realized that here was an existing program already developed by MAFSI that could serve others. The fact is, all reps need to make use of technology in order to have their agencies run efficiently, and here is a practical way for those agencies to be recognized for their accomplishments.”
In the five years that MAFSI has conducted its Technology Certification (MTC) program, more than 19% of that association’s rep members have achieved MTC designation.
What’s it Mean? Why Is it Important?
The MTC program was put together to serve as a guide to available technology and its application within a manufacturers’ rep business — from the basic to the complex. As outlined by MAFSI, here’s how the MTC program can benefit the rep:
- Identifies you as a leader in technology and business transactions relating to the Internet and agency operations.
- Provides your agency with a technology roadmap and comparative analysis.
- Provides you with peer networking relating to efficient use of hardware and software in agency applications.
- Provides your manufacturers with a clearer understanding of how your tech investments have enhanced their market position.
Communicating an Agency’s Commitment
The question that should be asked and answered is: “Do your manufacturers and customers understand the commitment your agency has made in terms of time and money to become ‘high tech and high touch’?” In partial answer, MAFSI created the MTC program as a means of publicly recognizing and promoting those agencies that have made the expected technology investments in hardware, software and training.
The MTC program is open to all MAFSI and MANA agency members. There are four levels of certification:
- 101 — Standard
- 201 — Intermediate
- 301 — Advanced
- 401 — Expert
Upon completion of the program, agencies will receive a framed certificate along with MTC lapel pins for all agency personnel. You’ll also receive a copy of MTC Rep, a technology newsletter. MTC agencies will be recognizable in the MANA Online Directory by the MTC logo after their company name.
Commenting on the joint MAFSI-MANA effort in this area, MANA’s Executive Vice President Helen Degli-Angeli indicated, “This is just another example of how MANA is working closely with its sister associations. Here’s a program that has already shown how well it can work. As a result, there’s no need to ‘re-invent’ the wheel; MANA members can simply take advantage of a program that has already proven its worth.”
She continues that a true benefit of the program is that “the successful completion of the MTC program allows an agency to offer tangible proof to its principals that it has attained a level of excellence in the use of high-tech tools.”
MANA members can locate details of the program by visiting www.MANAonline.org.