Software for Manufacturers’ Representatives


This issue of Agency Sales magazine includes a report on software for manufacturers’ representatives, the first such report MANA has done in four years. The most significant changes evident in this report compared to our last one in 2002 are:

  • The number of software providers who responded to our survey declined from 18 to 14.
  • Fourteen of the 18 providers listed in our 2002 report are missing in the 2006 report.
  • Only four of the software providers who responded to our 2002 survey appear in the 2006 report, the other 10 are new.

Although the number of rep software providers … Read the rest

Rep Software Provider Profiles

Below are profiles of just some of the service providers that feature software packages that are specifically designed for the needs of independent manufacturers’ representatives.

In the four years since Agency Sales magazine last profiled rep software provider products and services, the needs of the marketplace have continued to change and become more demanding. A comparison between the information that follows and what the magazine published in its August 2002 issue will illustrate the extent of those changes.

MANA neither endorses nor recommends any software package, as we believe that the profile of your agency, issues specific to certain industries … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

Writing it down….

A MANA member recently explained the success he’s experienced by communicating to his principals what he has to do to develop new business. He’s not only done this verbally, but he’s backed it up with a written presentation that includes a visual representation of how long it takes to make the sale.

“After years of experience,” he explained, “I found that when you talk to a new principal, they think they pay you a percentage in return for you looking for new jobs. As a result, the rep is fat and happy and drives a new car … Read the rest

Don’t Let an Unwatched 401(k) Get Away From You


You have likely been in this familiar situation: You finally qualify for your company’s 401(k) plan. You meet with the company-appointed 401(k) plan administrator, decide how much of your paycheck to contribute, and select your asset allocation. Then you never think about the investment again.

And why should you? After all, you’re a long-term investor. You chose a growth investment and the person administering the plan clearly explained it to you. So you’re fine, right? Wrong!

Even if you chose a good-growth investment, if you let that investment remain without periodic examination until you retire, you could be in for … Read the rest

It’s a Different World Out There


It is different now. The world is changing once again. Just when we thought we could launch new dot-coms, run up the stock price, have a grand party and rejoice in a New Economy, reality has a nasty little way of peeking in like Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and disrupting our pattern.

Yes, it is different now for businesses in the New Economy. Yet, we can learn a lot from the Old Economy and the principles that don’t change. The mood in technology today is that we have to get down to serious business. Off come the … Read the rest

Forecasts or Honest Information?


The predictability of future business through the eyes of the field sales force is critical to effective decision-making on the part of any executive.

What is the trend? What is changing? What’s over the horizon? Knowing this can help the executive make the necessary strategic decisions that keep a company in step with the changing marketplace and ahead of the competition. The problem is most organizations use an outdated business school approach to getting this information: sales forecasts.

Every December, Business Week solicits the expert predictions of 54 of the top economists in the country. In 2000, their predictions for … Read the rest

Closing the Sale — a Realistic Perspective


There is not a salesperson in existence who hasn’t repeatedly heard of the need to “close the sale.” Every new sales manager must view the process of encouraging his or her sales force to “close the sale” as an initiation into the profession. If you’re going to be a sales manager, you, therefore, must improve everyone’s ability to “close.” Doesn’t it come with the job?

Sales training literature is awash with advice. Some of it is tedious and trivial: “If he says this, you say that.” Other advice is grandiose: “Thirty-five new sure-fire closing techniques.” Still other is harmful. “Overcome … Read the rest

MANA Members Mentor Undergrads

The more than 1,600 independent manufacturers’ representatives who have gained MRERF’s CPMR designation have long touted the benefits they and their agencies derive from adding those prestigious four letters to the end of their names. Most often cited are:

  • Plentiful networking opportunities with reps from a variety of industries.
  • A more complete knowledge of what they’ve chosen for their careers.
  • An immediate increase in their professionalism and in their status as businessmen involved in sales.

Added to that list recently has been the opportunity to give back to the profession that has meant so much to each of them.

CPMR … Read the rest

This Is What I Believe —
a Rep’s View


It is seldom that I read the verses of great poets, but when I fortuitously stumbled upon the words illustrated below in my opening paragraph, they made an impact. Read on — I hope you’ll agree that they depict the perfect rep-principal-distributor relationship.

I believe in the words of the American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks: “We are each other’s business; we are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” In other words, we are interdependent entities.

With the aforementioned in mind, wouldn’t it be ideal if we respected each other without an iota of greed or malice? This … Read the rest

The Truth Can (Really) Hurt


Proof that there’s really wisdom in the words “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” came out of a candid meeting among independent reps and manufacturing executives.

A rep started the conversation by relating what happened after he responded to one of his principal’s requests. “The manufacturer asked for my honest feedback on the subject of his regional manager. What I had to offer wasn’t all that damaging to the regional manager, but there certainly were some areas where he could take steps to improve his relationships and performance with all his reps — not only us. In … Read the rest

Striving to Be the Best


This is hardly the first time Agency Sales magazine has noted the activities of Gerrard & Associates, Inc., Mooresville, North Carolina. Perhaps that’s reason enough for the agency to be the most recent addition to our growing list of “Perfect Reps.”

Whether the subject was the importance of rep councils, creating customer profiles or the need for reps to properly understand their job function, Gerrard & Associates has served as a prime example of how a rep should operate efficiently and professionally.

As a result, it’s not surprising that Frank Warmoth, Dearborn Midwest Conveyor Company, maintains, “I’ve worked with many … Read the rest

Representative Agreements Must Be Rewritten Annually


Relationships between manufacturers’ representatives and suppliers often unravel when a dispute arises that cannot be resolved.

When this happens, the parties turn to courts, teams of attorneys, or arbitration. All three alternatives are expensive in terms of time and financial resources. Relying upon legal alternatives should be considered the solution of last resort. Representative agreements can be drafted in such a way that the likelihood of involving courts, attorneys or arbitrators is minimized.

This article explains that by ensuring that there is a provision for annual renewal of the agreement, termination can be accomplished without any legal involvement.

Annual Renewal: Read the rest

Gaining Credibility by Asking Questions


I’m sure you’ll agree that establishing credibility is one of the most critical elements in securing a new customer.

The customer must see you as a credible and trustworthy resource. When we ask our program participants to describe the elements of credibility, they often will suggest things such as the following:

  • A proven track record.
  • A list of satisfied customers.
  • Number of years in business.
  • Financial strength.
  • Business size, etc.

Our next question is: “How do you establish that credibility or convey that credibility to a prospective customer?” Invariably, the response is “We tell them.”

Now the sobering question, “How … Read the rest