Happy New Year!


As MANA celebrates 60 years, we have accepted the challenge to deliver new changes to positively impact your association and improve your businesses. We have revised our mission and vision statements, and we are about to complete a new strategic plan that will be published for your reaction and input. We want your thoughts and ideas.

Here in our Southern California offices we have two big surprises for many of our members (and non-members, and me):

  • A prepared and experienced MANA team that provides extremely personalized customer service and support.
  • A wealth of information in the form of special reports,
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Working Together to Enhance Profits


When consultant Tom O’Connor was asked if the results of a study he conducted for NEMRA might be extrapolated to assist reps serving industries other than electrical, he didn’t hesitate for a second when he responded that it would be a safe and accurate exercise.

The results he was referring to include the fact that manufacturers’ reps and their principals appreciate the role the other plays in the marketing channel. However — and here’s where some concerns rise — the study notes, “A combination of required activities severely limit the ability of manufacturers’ representatives’ personnel to perform expected value‑added ‘selling’ … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

What reps want in a regional manager….

When the question of what makes a good regional manager was addressed by a panel of five manufacturers’ representatives at an industry meeting, it didn’t take them long to detail four separate areas that they thought such an individual ought to excel at:

  1. Product Knowledge — What the reps emphasized in this area was not only strong product knowledge, but also strong product application knowledge. As one of them said: “When the regional manager knows how and why our customers will be using their products, then they can generally handle the questions from
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Convert Your 401(k) Into a Cash Cow


Why leaving money in a 401(k) isn’t a smart move.

Retirement plans, like 401(k)s and pension/profit-sharing plans, are great for building a nest egg. They give you numerous benefits, including the ability to deduct contributions from your taxable income and enjoy tax-deferred growth of earnings inside the plan. However, eventually you will have to convert your retirement plan into an ongoing income stream so you can have the money to do what you want, when you want.

When that day comes, you’re going to find that the investment choices inside your existing 401(k) are generally not the best options for … Read the rest

Let the Web Empower You and Your Business


The other day I was thinking about how the Internet and the web have changed so much of what I do in business. I realized how much I can do now that I couldn’t do or would have been almost impossible to do just a little while ago.

Here are some ways that you can use the web to make your life easier and get more done. Warning: What you are about to read can revolutionize your business and personal life.

Get the Best Price

Every buyer wants to get the very best price possible. The web has some tools … Read the rest

Looking for Reps?


Looking for reps? It may not be as easy as it appears.

Depending upon a manufacturer’s level of experience in working with manufacturers’ representatives (reps, agents, representatives, professional field sales companies, outsourced sales professionals), there are several options available to find prospects to sell products.

If the manufacturer already has an established rep network, existing representatives may be an excellent source for recommendations for candidates in new or open territories. Many professional representatives are well-acquainted with reps in other territories through sales meetings, rep councils, rep trade associations, and professional and technical conferences.

Even if the manufacturer hasn’t established a … Read the rest

Building on Past Successes

When Bryan Shirley, CPMR, walked through the doors as MANA’s new president/CEO last fall, he brought with him more than two decades of experience in the field as a successful manufacturers’ representative serving the electronics industry. More important, when he arrived at association headquarters last October he had a keen appreciation for the vital role the association plays in the business lives of its members.

According to Shirley, “When considering what rep associations mean to the business lives of their members, I’d maintain that it’s key to keep in mind:

  • The support we provide individual reps.
  • The advocacy we provide
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Renegotiating With Integrity


Negotiating is a necessary part of life. Most of us don’t realize how often we negotiate deals and relationships. While negotiation is an essential skill, re-negotiating is far more tightly woven into the fabric of our lives. Renegotiating is the art of altering, revising or changing a previously negotiated relationship. This relationship can be in the form of any professional or personal contract or commitment involving a written or oral promise.

If you have ever missed a deadline and must explain why you were late, you now have to renegotiate your previous commitment. How you renegotiate this will be critical. … Read the rest

A Rep’s “Expectation” Is Met, but Disappointment Follows

By and

The Facts

Working from an oral agreement made in 1999, Steinke & Assocs., a Michigan sales rep firm, began repping Loudon Steel, Inc., a metal products manufacturer. By October 2002, the relationship was starting to tarnish, and Steinke exercised its undisputed right to resign.

In its somewhat hasty letter of resignation, Steinke stated that its “only expectation” as to commissions is for payment of “commissions on the jobs that have been awarded to Loudon to date.” Although no written or oral agreement had been reached on post-termination commissions, Steinke crossed its fingers and specifically identified two contracts with Ford Motor … Read the rest

The End of Solution-Based Selling


Does this presentation sound familiar? “We have the solution to meet your needs. We will tailor our products and services so that they fit your reality precisely. Our price is reasonable and we’ll provide excellent customer service.”

It’s the move from selling products to selling solutions, and it’s what the vast majority of all companies say to their prospects. Perhaps you’ve said it to yours. If you’re still selling that way, you’re missing the boat — the one that recently crossed over the horizon leading to the 21st century.

The way most companies are selling solutions just doesn’t work in … Read the rest

Commission Protection Acts Updated

The Member Area of the MANA website (www.MANAonline.org) contains a section where you can look up, by state, commission protection legislation that has been enacted and view the statute. MANA works with a law firm to research the commission protection statutes for changes. This project has recently been completed and the 2006 updates to the commission protection acts and notable rulings have been posted to the website.

No states enacted new commission protection statutes this year. However, Arizona made significant changes to its statute. Connecticut codified the commission protection act it previously passed. Utah proposed legislation this year, but due … Read the rest

Qualifying Sales Leads


In a room filled with manufacturers and reps, a manufacturer made a comment concerning qualifying sales leads that somewhat surprisingly met with almost unanimous approval.

“I don’t qualify leads for my reps. Instead, I just pass along all the information I have concerning a prospect, and here’s why. The rep knows the territory much better than I do. After all, isn’t that why I work with the rep? Doesn’t he know the level of business activity and who the best contacts are? As a result, I trust him to take the proper action when I forward a lead to him. … Read the rest

MANA Member Addresses Rep Concerns at Industry Conference


Kurt Nelson, CPMR, pulled double duty at this fall’s Electro E‑Biz Forum 2006 in Long Beach, California, as he addressed two subjects that occupy a good deal of the rep’s time and resources.

Nelson, of MANA member Nelson & Associates, Santa Fe Springs, California, tackled customer relationship management (CRM) programs and how to maximize the rep-distributor relationship during the three-day E-Biz forum hosted by NEMRA, Electro-Federation Canada, NEMA, NAED and IDEA.

At the outset of his first presentation, Nelson cautioned that CRM (i.e., methods and technologies used by companies to manage their relationships with customers) is hardly a panacea that’s … Read the rest

Dealing With Angry and Difficult Customers


No one looks forward to an encounter with an angry or difficult customer. Most of us can’t help but feel emotionally impacted by an upset customer. An ugly incident can ruin our entire day.

Not only that, but there is usually some damage that can be done to the company by the angry customer. Our job security is not enhanced when the company loses business. Put those two things together, and you can see that dealing effectively with an angry customer becomes a challenge that we must overcome.

Here are some tips to make your next confrontation easier for you, … Read the rest

Implementing Information Retrieval Systems


Do you pile instead of file? Is your desk overflowing with mounds of paperwork? If it is, you’re not alone.

Many claim that if they file it, it is out of sight and out of mind — perhaps never to be found again. Today, U.S. workers generate 2.7 billion pieces of new paper a day — that is 45 sheets per person a day! What is happening to it and how do you find it when you need it?

Smart Business Magazine reported U.S workers waste on average at least two hours per week because they are not able to … Read the rest