Starting an Agency


This month’s theme is “Starting an Agency.” Whether you’re new to the representative profession, or a seasoned veteran with a successful sales company, we all can gain additional knowledge from the pages in this month’s issue.

In fact, when we poll our members on the value of our association, Agency Sales magazine is consistently listed first. However, I am continually amazed at the countless other services MANA offers that are not used by our members and associate members alike! I have two challenges that I hope everyone will take on.

A fellow professional sales agency owner recently told me that … Read the rest

Following Different Paths on the Way to Being a Rep


If there’s any subject that’s received more than its fair share of exposure in the pages of Agency Sales, it’s how or why manufacturers’ representative agencies are started. At the same time, if there’s any single variable that comes up in conversation with a new rep concerning why he decided to go off on his own, it’s the existence of and the need to satisfy an entrepreneurial zeal.

Here are the most common answers reps give to the question: “Why did you open up your own agency?”

  • I wanted to prove I can do it on my own.
  • I
Read the rest

NEMRA Study Takes Aim at Waste in the Channel

A combination of required activities has severely limited the ability of electrical manufacturers’ representatives’ personnel to perform expected value‑added “selling” functions.

That is just one of the critical findings of a research study initiated by the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives Association (NEMRA), Tarrytown, New York, and its affiliate the NEMRA Manufacturers Group (NMG).

The study, entitled Eliminating Wasteful Activities in the Representatives & Manufacturer Sales & Marketing Channel, is described in a white paper that has been distributed to NEMRA and NMG membership.

Conducted by the Farmington Consulting Group (FCG), LLC, Farmington, Connecticut, the study has been undertaken to … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

When the check gets too big….

In the “Manufacturer’s Corner” section of this issue of Agency Sales magazine, we offer some of the comments made by manufacturers during a MANA seminar that covered how to manage conflicts in the manufacturer-rep relationship. The reps that participated in the seminar were just as willing to offer their thoughts on a number of issues including the ever-present worry reps have concerning what to do when their commission checks get too large.

One rep’s course of action is to “spend more time massaging my principals than I do the customer. I’ve gone way down … Read the rest

How to Handle a Financial Windfall


Everyone fantasizes about instant riches — the kind associated with hitting the lottery, learning you have a distant aunt who named you as her sole beneficiary, coming up with the next great American invention, winning a reality game show, or even finding a duffel bag full of cash along a deserted road. While these instant-riches scenarios aren’t common, people do sometimes receive a sudden windfall of money as the result of the sale of a business, rolling over a 401(k) plan, or inheriting it from Mom and Dad.

While many people think life would be easy if only they were … Read the rest

Using a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) for Marketing and More


Imagine having the power of a desktop computer, including Internet accessibility, with you wherever you are.

You can have this with a device that you can carry with you easily. It could be something like a Palm Pilot, Pocket PC device or other handheld device. Usually these devices enable you to keep a list of customers, maintain your calendar, send e-mail (on some units) and do other functions that would previously have only been available on a laptop computer.

I’m using a Palm Tungsten/T at this time. This little device gives me the ability to keep thousands of people — … Read the rest

A Rep’s Perspective of This Year’s MANA Legal Forum


Owners of professional sales companies must have some funds budgeted for legal services. Practicing law on your own can be very, very expensive. That’s the message this former rep received after attending this year’s MANA Legal Forum.

For example, the first issue discussed by the 15 attorneys who participated dealt with the question: “If a rep is terminated by a principal and the principal agrees to pay all the commissions due per the wording of the agreement, can the rep collect additional revenues?”

Although the expected answer was “no,” the presentation by Barbara Kramer, Gerald Newman and Adam Glazer emphasized … Read the rest

Returning the Favor


The last time Agency Sales magazine visited with David Miller, Whit-Com Sales, more than two years ago, he was on one side of the desk recommending one of his principals for our “Perfect Principal” series of articles. Now we find the favor being returned to this Uniontown, Ohio-based manufacturers’ representative as one of his principals recommends him as a “Perfect Rep.”

According to executives with Specialty Screw Corporation, Miller combines the best attributes that a rep can possess in order to know his principals, their products and to meet the needs of his customers at the same time. High on … Read the rest

Overcoming Customers’ Objections


Handling objections effectively is often the hardest thing a salesperson will have to do.

What they often don’t realize is that an objecting customer is a good thing — it means the customer is interested enough in his solution to talk about it. An objecting customer is handing something to you on a silver platter, an opportunity for a “precious moment,” a chance to differentiate yourself as a sales superstar. In order to gain the customer’s trust and to proceed hand-in-hand toward a win-win solution, the salesperson needs to be prepared to “vaporize” any objections. Here are some simple steps … Read the rest

Planning for the Future


Before leaving on a business trip, Jack Van Der Ploeg, from longtime MANA associate member Zero Zone, sent the following request to Agency Sales magazine.

Zero Zone has worked exclusively with independent manufacturers’ representatives for their sales for more than 40 years now. I am not saying the same reps are still on board for that entire time, but I will say that we have quite a number of very loyal reps that have remained with us for years. So here is the question I have for MANA: Does MANA have any guidelines for reps in order for them to … Read the rest

The Truth About Lying


Some people can’t tell a lie, others can’t tell the truth, and unfortunately, most people can’t tell the difference.

Can you tell when someone is pulling the wool over your eyes? Whether you’re an attorney selecting a jury, a manager interviewing a new agent or a salesperson making a presentation, your ability to quickly and accurately discern the truth greatly enhances your effectiveness. Fortunately, having the ability to sort fact from fiction is an important communication skill that can be learned.

Aside from con men, compulsive liars and some politicians, most people become uncomfortable when telling a lie and transmit … Read the rest

The Root Causes of Poor Communication


Projects come in all types and sizes. There are information technology projects, strategic planning projects, budgeting projects, forecasting projects — almost any type of business activity will have a project associated with it.

For the past 10 years I’ve asked project teams, “From your experience, what is it that makes one project succeed?” More than 95 percent of team members said that good communication was the reason for their success. When I asked the teams, “From your experience, what is it that makes a project fail?” more than 95 percent said that poor communication was the reason for their failures. … Read the rest

It’s All About the Risk!


Sometimes it is so frustrating. You know you have a better product than that which your prospect is currently using. Your price is attractive, your service is outstanding. If the prospect would switch to your solution, you know they’d be delighted. You’d save them money, smooth out their processes, reduce their inventory and generally make their life simpler.

So, why won’t they switch? Are people really that stupid? Or, is it you? Did you do something to put them off?

While there are some circumstances where the answers would be “yes” to the questions above, the most likely answer is … Read the rest