So what’s in a name? Sometimes we try to complicate things, and I’m not quite sure why.
Over the past several years, investigations have been made to determine whether MANA should change its name. It is true that we are international (not just national), we are made up of sales and marketing entrepreneurs, and it is a fact that the term “rep” has become more readily recognizable than “agent.”
Although we have embraced lots of change, we are not changing our name! MANA is so well-recognized and well-branded. It’s not so much what the acronym stands for, but more what we stand on — proud values that have continued for 60 years. Simply put, we are “MANA, the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association with almost 5000 member-companies, dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating the function.”
Similarly, a “rep” is, well… a rep! And we have tried many alternative ways to better describe an interdependent manufacturers’ representative:
- Sales professional.
- Manufacturers’ agent.
- Sales and marketing entrepreneur.
- Outside sales engineer.
- Manufacturers’ rep.
- Extended sales force.
- Outside salesperson.
- Commercial broker.
- Factory trained rep.
- Outsourced professional field salesperson.
- Independent manufacturers’ rep.
I do like “outsourced professional field sales” and “extended sales force” because they more accurately describe a rep. But as much as they detail our function more appropriately, our manufacturer partners still call us “reps” (and so do we, for that matter).
Again, it’s more of what we do than what we call ourselves. A Rep is a rep, and represents manufacturers with professionalism, trust and pride. Reps have to sell twice as much — they sell to the customer, and then they have to sell (their ideas, proposals, and programs) to the factory too. The Reps’ IP (Intellectual Property) is their relationship with and knowledge of the customer. Reps know the needs, identify the opportunities, solve problems and seek solutions for the customer. Reps are not a channel, they are the same as a manufacturer’s direct sales force (just paid differently). Embrace the relationship, because mutual respect is the key ingredient for success.
I am borrowing a phrase from MANA’s chairman of the board, John McNellis of McReps, who suggested this definition after graduating from CPMR: Rep = Respected, Educated, Professional. I’ll assist you with some other ideas of what “rep” means — you can mix and match, or accept them all as the characteristics and traits of a Rep:
So what’s in a name? MANA = your function, your association, your resource. Rep = the outsourced professional entrepreneur who is the ultimate in performance-based sales success.
Be proud, be a rep.