Editorial…In the Field


Every sales agency knows the importance of commission management. The topic of commissions presents many dilemmas while you’re negotiating a fair and equitable contract.

All manufacturers’ representatives should have contracts in place with principals whom they represent with written and agreed commission percentages. All commission programs should establish successful rewards to both parties in order to create a long-term relationship.

The commission on existing business helps to defray the new sales agency’s expenses for investing resources and time to create demand for the new principal’s products among the rep’s customer base.

Some manufacturers have little or no business in a … Read the rest

Rep Strives to Keep Time on His Side


Experienced manufacturers’ representatives easily can poke holes in the purported wisdom contained in one of the Rolling Stones’ biggest hits. When Mick Jagger and the gang sing, “Time is on my side…,” reps know that’s not always how it works.

In the case of reps, the “time” we’re referring to is the time frame between a rep assuming a line to the point when orders begin filling the pipeline and, hopefully, the rep receives a check in the mail for his efforts. Reps know that this often-lengthy period of time is the cause of impatience on the part of principals … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

The benefits of staying in touch….

For any rep that doesn’t believe in staying in close touch with his principals, here’s a real life lesson proving just how important regularly scheduled meetings are. According to one rep, “I just finished one of my regular weekly phone conversations with one of my principals, and it just serves as another example of how beneficial it can be to keep open the doors of communication. After we finished talking about major projects and some innovative approaches we wanted to take in the territory, the principal offered, ‘I don’t know if this is important, … Read the rest

The Risks and Rewards of Stocking Reps

By and

From time to time sales representatives deem it desirable to maintain an inventory of a manufacturer’s products for resale.

These representatives are often referred to as “stocking reps” or “buy-sell reps.” Far from repping pantyhose, a “stocking rep” buys inventory from a manufacturer and resells it to a customer, with the spread between the purchase price and the selling price as its gross profit. From a legal point of view, however, they are more like distributors than sales representatives. As such, there is a different set of risks and rewards to being a “stocking rep.”

Inventory Risks

A stocking rep … Read the rest

Perils of Retirement


You couldn’t wait to retire. Now you’ve done it, and your life feels unhinged. Your calendar and e-mail in-box are empty. Your spouse wants you to do anything that involves leaving the house. And you feel guilty for not being productive.

Welcome to retirement. Even those who work part-time after leaving a primary career, as most people now do, face major logistical and psychological challenges. Retirees who don’t anticipate these landmines may learn about them the hard way. But you can prepare for them,

Here are six pockets of turbulence and suggestions for how to avoid them.

1. Where did Read the rest

It’s Not Mission Impossible to Market on the Net


Reality is hitting the Internet.

In the old days, you know, back in the 1990s, all you had to do was start a new dot-com, use the word “cool” a lot in your promotion and watch the stock price soar. It seemed impossible that you could make money that way back then. Welcome to Mission Impossible II — no, not the movie, but the concept of making money on the Internet. To make serious money on the Internet requires some principles that are tried and true and some clever new ones. Check out this list of some important concepts and … Read the rest

Selling to Executives: Who’s Getting Their Attention, You or Your Competitor?


How many sales have been lost because your competition had inroads with the senior executive and you didn’t? How often did you find out, too late, that the middle managers you had been talking to didn’t have the power to make the final decision to buy?

The hard truth is, many times it’s very difficult to get the executive’s attention and connect your products and solutions to their priorities and business agenda.

Initiating and developing relationships with executives requires more than getting in and presenting your value proposition. It requires you to be able to answer several critical questions before … Read the rest

Southern California Rep Marks 75th Anniversary


When asked if there’s any secret to his agency’s longevity and success, Jon Crowley good-naturedly offers, “We just keep showing up for work and doing the job,” or “Perhaps the Crowleys were just unemployable elsewhere.” But there’s a lot more to it when a manufacturers’ representative agency can boast a track record of success like the CP Crowley Company can. More to the point, according to Crowley, “We’ve successfully adapted to the changes in the marketplace.”

The Irwindale, California, agency is marking its 75th anniversary this year. The Charles P. Crowley Company, established in 1932, is a family-owned manufacturers’ representative … Read the rest

What Are They Thinking?


If you don’t know what your customers think about you, your business may be in trouble. How often do you request feedback from your customers? How often do you visit them? Call them?

Remember, in business no news is bad news. If your customers aren’t saying anything, it does not mean they are happy. It does not mean your slot in their vendor base is secure, nor does it mean you are getting all the business you should from them.

We all need to know what our customers are thinking, doing and buying. We have to be in constant touch … Read the rest

Getting ROI on Your Investment in Communication Training


It is extremely important to get a significant return on any investment in training and development. Leaders will only participate in professional development when they believe it will achieve results. The best way to show exactly what the ROI will be is to engage an outside coaching firm.

When considering communication development, things to look at include strategy, message or skill development. In all of these it may seem difficult to measure ROI. Communication is still regarded as a soft skill, so the assumption is that you cannot measure it. That’s not the case. A skilled consulting firm should be … Read the rest

Getting Market Research Done


When a panel of manufacturers was bemoaning the fact that they regularly encountered a push back when they requested their reps to conduct market research for them, one manufacturer described a different experience.

According to the manufacturer, “I’ve had some luck when I’ve been less-than-demanding with my reps. For instance, if the rep and I agree that the gathering of information can be done in the normal course of their regular sales calls, I don’t think I’m out of line to expect they can do the job for me. In addition, if it’s something I think can enhance the relationship … Read the rest

Why Use a Manufacturers’ Representative?

When a manufacturer, distributor or service company determines that an important element of its marketing plan is contacting its customers face-to-face on the customer’s turf, it has three options:

  • Conduct the field sales process with non-sales company executives and managers who sell part-time.
  • Hire direct sales employees whose full-time job is to contact customers and service them.
  • Appoint professional, multiple-line field sales firms as strategic partners.

These field sales companies may be known as reps, agents, manufacturers’ agents or representatives, sales agencies or even brokers. They work primarily on commission and pay their own expenses in return for a contractual … Read the rest

Getting Out of the Phone Loop: Making It Easy for Customers to Conduct Business With You


Barbara was thrilled. She finally got a brand new automated phone system for her business. She purchased the system to give her employees more time for their work. It seemed to her that too much of their time was taken up transferring calls to the “right” person and repeatedly giving out information about their hours or location. The automated system would allow them to become truly productive.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Wrong. It was a nightmare. Her customers, who were used to speaking to a human, now had to maneuver a difficult, confusing and sometimes truly impossible system. Some of … Read the rest