Tips & Tactics

Finding comfort out of the kitchen….

When Harry Truman was President of the United States, one of his favorite phrases was, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Those words came to mind when a rep reported to us that one of his peers had left the profession and gone back to direct selling for a manufacturer.

According to the rep, “I caught up with my friend just as he was leaving his agency. He told me that working as a rep was so long and hard that he needed a break. Since reps work for themselves, they don’t get paid unless they sell something. He was looking for the peace and quiet of working for a guaranteed salary.”

Editor’s Note: It’s hardly a surprise to us that some find the life and work of a manufacturers’ representative to be hard and lonely. For those who find it the right fit, however, the rewards more than make up for the hardship and uncertainty.

Getting your customer to sell for you….

According to author, consultant and speaker Brian Tracy, “A full 84 percent of sales in America take place as the result of word-of-mouth advertising. Some of the most important sales promotion activities are those that take place between customers and prospects, between friends and colleagues, in the form of advice and recommendations on what to buy, or not to buy, and whom to buy from.

“The only way that you can be among the top 10 percent of salespeople in your industry is by having your existing customers selling for you on every occasion. Because of the importance of mega-credibility in selling, your customers must be happy to open doors to new customers for you wherever they go. All top salespeople eventually reach the point where they seldom have to prospect because their customers do much of their selling for them. When you live your life consistent with your personal and business mission statements — both fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle — your sales career will soar, as will your sales results and your income.”

Patience pays off….

“One important point with regard to vision, values and mission statements: be gentle with yourself. It has taken you your whole life to become the person you are today. If you are like everyone else, you are not perfect. You have lots of room to grow and improve. There are many changes that you can make in your character and personality in the course of becoming the excellent human being that you aspire to. But change in your personality will not come easily, and it won’t come overnight. You must be patient.

“The reason people grow and become better and better over the course of time is that they persist gently in the direction of their goals and dreams. They don’t expect overnight transformation. When they don’t see results immediately, they don’t get discouraged. They just keep on keeping on. And you must do the same.”

Taking that first step….

“Once you have a clear idea of the person you want to be and the kind of life and career you want to create, just take the first step. Read your mission statements every day as you go about your activities; think of the different ways that you could practice the virtues and qualities that you are in the process of incorporating into your own personality. Remember, it is only your actions with regard to other people that really demonstrate the kind of person you have become. And if you persist long enough, you will eventually shape yourself into the exact person that you have imagined.

“Now, there are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

“First, treat every customer as if he is going to be a great source of word-of-mouth advertising for you. Remember, every person knows about 300 other people.

“Second, resolve to become better and better in your dealings with others, but be gentle with yourself. Behave every day in every way the best you can be and you will be sure to get results.”

Brian Tracy ( has produced more than 350 audio/video programs and has written more than 42 books, including his just released The Way to Wealth.

Passports not needed…?

An article that appeared in the Winnipeg, Canada, Free Press in May addresses a concern that several Canadian MANA member rep firms have with frequent travel to and from the United States. As detailed in previous articles in Agency Sales, crossing the border between the two countries is hardly as easy as it used to be. Among the many changes that have been implemented is the need for travelers to produce a valid passport. According to the newspaper article, however, passports may not always be needed.

“Manitobans could be able to cross into neighboring U.S. states using high-tech drivers’ licenses instead of more expensive passports, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins hinted during a visit to Winnipeg.

“Wilkins said it’s possible a tentative agreement between British Columbia and the state of Washington to upgrade drivers’ licenses to standards demanded by U.S. Homeland Security could be extended to Manitoba and its American neighbors, North Dakota and Minnesota.

“The U.S. government wants all vehicle passengers to present passports at land border crossing as early as 2008, but Canadian provinces and U.S. states want that date pushed back to June 2009.

“In the interim, the states and provinces want to demonstrate that technologically enhanced, single-piece drivers’ licenses can satisfy security-minded U.S. federal authorities. The B.C.-Washington pilot project has been approved by the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who’s open to the idea of extending the plan across the Canada-U.S. border, Wilkins said.

“I think he’s talking to other states (about doing that). I think he’s certainly open to that being developed further and further,” Wilkins said.

“The passport initiative is something that’s very important to both countries. What we all need to do is work very closely together to make sure it’s implemented as smoothly as possible so it does not impede this wonderful trade and this wonderful travel we share between the two countries.’

“Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, who traveled to Washington, D.C. in February to make the case for high-tech driver’s licenses, said he welcomed Wilkins’ comments because they reflect the policies of the U.S. federal government.

“But Doer said the U.S. government must extend the passport deadline to June 2009 and move beyond the drivers’ license pilot-project stage to a broader agreement. He said Canadian provinces and U.S. states stand united against Homeland Security and the Bush administration on the passport issue.

“The states in the United States are opposed to the plan President Bush downloaded on them…. ‘The governors said they will not do it because it will cost them $12 billion,’ Doer said. ‘Everything, we believe, is open, including Manitoba and North Dakota…. There’s a real opportunity here.’

“Manitoba and North Dakota issued a joint statement on this issue, and Minnesota is working with the province as well, Doer said.

“State and provincial authorities on both sides of the border fear a slowdown in tourism and trade if the passport plan goes ahead, as relatively few citizens of the United States and Canada possess passports, compared with those who have drivers’ licenses. Passports also cost more — in Canada, they’re almost $100.”

End of article