No thanks, I don’t need any — I already know everything.
Many people tell me that they have been in business for years, have grown their companies to great success, and then ask me “Why would I attend a conference, or go to a seminar, or network with others, or read a book?”
Advice is a great thing, and I have gotten lots of ideas, recommendations and counsel from many people in the rep industry. Most of it was great, and the worst I ever received was more humor than advice. When I first entered the rep business, my good friend Bill said, “The rep business is easy; it’s (only) about good lines and good people!” I believed him, although I’m not sure he had the word “only” in the sentence. His words are true, but there is much, much more to the business, as we are all now aware.
The best advice ever received was from my dad, Glenn, who said, “Sales is a contact sport.” How true that adage is (and has remained)! You need to continue to work harder to get face-to-face with your customers. In our rep firm, we used to measure the amount of real face time spent with customers; it was usually 20 percent or less. We worked hard to get more face time, especially with key decision-makers at our accounts. Even now, with the internet, customer defragmentation, mergers and acquisitions, it is still about relationships.
I firmly believe that the most successful people in business are the ones that always ask for advice and ideas. If you continue to ask and educate yourself, you will certainly learn new things to become a better and more professional salesperson. Most of the really effective sales and marketing tools and techniques that I employed in my rep days came from someone else, and with their permission, I did some creative swiping of some great ideas. Just a few of these golden nuggets were:
- The Call Organizer: Jack Berman
- VIP (Visiting Important Principal) Package: Gene Foster
- Line Profitability Analysis: Dale Montgomery & Scott Lindberg
- Year-End Letter to Principals: Bob Infanger
So, where do you go to get some good ideas? I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few ideas:
- Agency Sales magazine: Great thoughts from great people.
- MANA teleforums, webinars, blogs, special reports, and our website.
- Educational events and seminars, and especially the CPMR and CSP programs.
- Rep “no name” groups: Form a group with your rep friends and meet.
- MANA telephone counseling: Just call us and see.
- MANAFEST 2009 Conference, Las Vegas: May 31-June 3 of next year (the best place to go for advice!)
So my advice to you is to go get some. Get advice, give advice, creatively swipe and share your good ideas with others. Share and win. Equally important is to do something with the advice you get! It will make you better, make reps more professional, and raise the rep function higher.
Now go get some more face time with your customer — and sell something!