Editorial…In the Field

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MANA has preached long and hard to its members that they not only have a business plan for their agencies, but that they proactively and willingly share that plan with their principals. Such a plan indicates the level of professionalism your firm possesses and serves as a map pointing the rep to where he wants to go and what he wants to achieve for himself, his customers and principals.

An integral part of any business plan should be a list of the services the rep will provide and the functions he’ll perform for his principals. At the same time, reps … Read the rest

Manufacturers and Reps Explore Their Expectations

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Perhaps the most appropriate analogy concerning what manufactuers’ representatives and principals should expect from their relationships was offered by one California rep. “Isn’t it a little like bringing someone into a marriage? You want to know ahead of time what each party expects from the other. It’s only with that knowledge that you have a real chance for success.”

That’s how Susan Fox, Applied Industrial Materials, Torrance, California, approaches a new business relationship. The extent to which Fox considers the importance of identifying mutual expectations is seen in the fact that prior to an agreement with a principal she’ll actually … Read the rest

Best Practices for Salespeople

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One of the most debilitating myths about the sales profession is that salespeople can learn on their own, on the job, and eventually become good at their jobs. This myth implies they’ll eventually develop their own style, and that will bring them the maximum results.

That myth is true for about five percent of the salespeople in the world. For the other 95 percent, nothing could be further from the truth. The overwhelming majority of field salespeople perform at a fraction of their potential because they have never been systematically exposed to the best practices of their profession. Instead, they … Read the rest

Tips & Tactics

Starting off on the right foot….

According to speaker and sales guru Mark Hunter, it’s the first half-hour that sets the tone for the entire business day. That’s why he advocates that salespeople make the most of those first 30 minutes.

“For most people, the first half-hour of the day consists of settling into the office routine by grabbing a cup of coffee, checking the Internet, and, of course, chatting with others. Now, I will never be one to say we have to avoid coffee and/or socializing, but I will be the first to say it is advantageous to put … Read the rest

401(k): You Can Take It With You

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If you contribute to your employer’s 401(k) plan and  leave your job, one of the biggest decisions you will make is what to do with the money in your plan.

Since the federal tax code was changed in 1978 to create 401(k) plans, many individuals have used this type of employer-sponsored defined-contribution plan to save money for retirement in a tax-deferred account. At the end of 2003, these plans had an estimated $1.9 trillion in assets, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

But in our increasingly mobile society, changing jobs is a real possibility. What should you do with … Read the rest

Get Online Anywhere With a Laptop Cellular Card

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These days, you don’t have to travel far to find wireless access. But some hotspots carry steep prices, and you can’t count on finding one when you need it.

So, if you need Internet access everywhere, try cellular service.

All major cellular providers offer Internet cards for your lap-top. They slide into a PCMCIA or PC slot, much like a Wi-Fi card. The cards give you Internet access anywhere you have cellular coverage. The concept is simple, but deciphering the pricing and technical details can be confusing. These days, cellular providers tout broadband-like speeds. Certainly, the cards are far faster … Read the rest

Take Charge of Your Health: Is a Health Savings Account Right for You?

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Just before the 109th Congress completed its final session last year, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 passed the House and Senate and was signed by President Bush. The improvements in HSAs will attract even more people to join the movement, as roadblocks have been removed that kept many away.

Exactly What Is an HSA?

Health Savings Accounts became law as part of President Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. The purpose of HSAs is twofold.

  • To promote savings for future health care expenses.
  • To gently nudge the insured public into consumer-driven health
  • Read the rest

Effectively Negotiating Rep Contracts and Other Agreements

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The process of entering into an effective rep agreement, or any other type of important contract or understanding, appears to be made more difficult each day.

Whether entering into a formal written contract or merely setting the time for a meeting, business requires constant negotiating. In fact, we have been negotiating since birth. As a wet or hungry newborn, we simply cried. Crying brought attention, and usually the desired result. Eventually (as we approached age 35 or so), crying grew unacceptable, and it became necessary to develop alternative negotiating skills.

Many have come away from a negotiation reluctantly admiring the … Read the rest

Good News About Cold Calls!

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Looking to expand your customer base?

You can put your website out there — but they probably won’t see it.

You can do search engine optimization — but the rules for that seem to change daily, and most businesses are in categories that are populated with thousands of competitors.

You can do mass e-mail, but most people delete, without reading, dozens of e-mails daily.

You can do a snail-mailing, and if it’s clever enough it will probably be looked at; the percentage of people who act on it, however, is likely to be tiny.

Or you can simply call.

While … Read the rest

Looking at Competitors’ Strengths

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One manufacturer reported to us how he’s changed his view of the type of competitive information he likes to receive from his manufacturers’ reps.

“I’ve always depended upon my reps to let me know what’s going on in the field in terms of what my competitors are doing. Originally I tried to focus almost entirely on their weaknesses. That let me employ a philosophy of finding openings that would allow me a competitive advantage. While I still like to know what they’re doing wrong, I now ask my reps to concentrate on their strength. That allows me to strengthen my … Read the rest

Benefits of Technology Take Center Stage at AIM/R Conference

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If you thought information overload was a challenge, consider innovation overload.

If that wasn’t the theme for this year’s AIM/R Conference, it very well could have been considering the innovative developments and ideas that were communicated and exchanged during the association’s annual conference in Newport Beach, California, earlier this year.

Leading the charge when it came to bringing the association’s membership up to speed on developments in the world of technology were Patricia Pomerleau, CEO of CEOExpress Company, and marketing and management consultant Terry Brock.

Pomerleau, the founder of CEOExpress, one of the Internet’s most popular websites for business executives, … Read the rest

The Dumbest Things Salespeople Do

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The truth is, knowing what not to do in sales is just as powerful as knowing what to do. Make sense? So I’ve assembled a list of the dumbest things that we’ve seen salespeople do — things that are virtually guaranteed to completely derail your selling career.

They Don’t Become Students of Their Craft

They begin strong selling careers, and they really get into it — but then they go to sleep at the switch and forget to do things like read industry publications or new books by sales masters. They don’t go to sales seminars. They don’t listen to … Read the rest