It Really Is All About You

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At the mid-year point of 2008, let’s collectively collect our thoughts and pause for a moment.

Why do you belong to MANA? There are many good reasons, and one is certainly because it’s the right thing to do. You belong because you support this wonderful profession that has been instrumental in creating your success. Belonging is also about the critical action of participating. You are MANA, and we want you to engage. We want you to network, share, and help reinforce the MANA community.

Within my short time at MANA, thus far (1½ years), I have had the opportunity to meet with many of you in person or to talk with you on the phone. Invariably, I hear the pride in your voices when you tell me that you’ve “been a member since….” or “been a member for __ years” or any one of the many other memorable MANA experiences. I hear the passion!

We have also heard lots about being more prepared in today’s ever-changing business climate. Manufacturers, especially, have told reps to do more planning, training, and educating. The Best in Class salespeople are those who are the most prepared and take the time for professional development.

MANA has many resources to assist you in these areas and the best is simply communication. More conversations, more information, more sharing and more networking. We learn from each other and we need you to share. We need your investment of time and we need your support in providing feedback. This is how we will solve your problems and the biggest challenges that we all face.

There’s quite a bit of apathy today. So have passion — about your job, about your company, about the rep function, about MANA. Plan, train, educate and get excited.

Go sell something — and let’s have some productive fun!

What Is the Greatest Problem Reps Face?

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As the market the rep works in continues to grow internationally, rep firms must walk a tightrope in order to achieve balance between the needs of principals and customers.

On the one hand, it’s imperative for the rep to communicate customer needs to his principals — especially as those needs relate to product quality and competitive pricing. The importance of this consideration is compounded if the principal locates a partner for manufacturing needs in another country. Such a move can result in commission cuts to the rep, or can result in cutting the rep out entirely.

On the other hand, … Read the rest

Overcoming Roadblocks

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Ask any rep, “What’s the greatest business challenge you face today?” and chances are you’ll receive as many different answers as the number of reps you ask. At least that was the case when Agency Sales magazine asked reps how they were negotiating their way through today’s challenging business climate.

As a starting point, consider a presentation that was a highlight of this year’s Keystone Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. During a panel discussion moderated by the presidents of the three sponsoring rep associations, the following areas of concern were addressed:

  • Reduced commission and compensation.
  • The rising costs of conducting business.
  • Read the rest

Building a Strong Brand Can Be as Rewarding as Striking Gold

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For companies smart enough, and lucky enough, to sustain a strong brand — that brand is a gold mine. For a great brand, customers will drive the extra mile, pay the extra dollar, and refuse to consider lower-priced “me too” offers from competitors.

But what is it that commands this kind of loyalty? The answer is simple: customers are loyal to great brands because those brands deliver great experiences. As it gets harder and harder for companies to stand out through unique product features or technology, strong brands consistently provide distinctive, high-quality customer interactions that low-cost competitors cannot easily duplicate.… Read the rest

Protecting Our Most Precious Resource — Time

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The Spanish have an old saying: “Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week,” and for many of us, it’s too true. Procrastination gobbles up our most precious resource: Time.

There are things you’re putting off — goals you’ve been remiss about pursuing, projects waiting endlessly for completion. You’ve tried discipline and will-power, but neither have had much staying power. And since a popular definition of insanity is “trying the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result,” it may be time for a new approach.

Here are some radical strategies for combating procrastination. Give them a … Read the rest

The Art of Silence

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As Sarah wound her way past the tables and toward the stage to get her “Top Salesperson Award” at the company’s annual dinner, her colleagues were mumbling about how it was possible that someone who’s been with the firm for only a year could have sold more than anyone else. Sarah was pleasant enough, but hardly the gregarious salesman type. When asked how, Sarah wasn’t talking. What her colleagues didn’t know was that her silence was the real key to her success. Sarah was making sales by practicing the art of silence — not the art of talking.

Silence is … Read the rest

Busy, Busy, Busy

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Everybody’s busy. No time to get anything done. Is that actually true? Or are we just psychologically busy?

There are people who are basically overwhelmed when they get out of bed. They sit there at breakfast, wringing their hands, rubbing their eyes and fidgeting in their chair about the dreaded workload that awaits them. They slump their shoulders, drag their feet and move at a pace that would make a snail yawn. Slogging their way through traffic, they make it to work — even more tired than when they woke up. Eight trips to the break room for coffee, and … Read the rest

Providing World-Class Service

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Today’s business environment is becoming increasingly complex and competitive as a result of globalization, advanced technology, increasing product proliferation, brand erosion, market segmentation, consumer skepticism and time poverty, rendering traditional business plans obsolete. For just about every product or service, there is an overwhelming number of options to choose from, leaving consumers dazed and confused.

So how can you stand out in a sea of competitors promoting similar offerings? Become known as the company in your field that provides world-class service.

What is world-class service? It is the talk of many but the reality of few. When a company provides … Read the rest

Learning From Reps

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Surveying Provides Value for Manufacturers

At the recommendation of its rep counsel, one manufacturer decided to survey all of his reps. While what he found didn’t especially surprise him, it did allow him a more precise focus on what it is that’s important to his rep constituents. Three areas in particular came to the surface as a result of the survey:

  • Field visits — “Thankfully we knew this ahead of time, but the message we received concerning field visits bears repeating. If I’m certain I’ve chosen the correct reps to partner with, then I know they’re as busy in the
  • Read the rest

Tips to Ensure the Health of Your Computer

Chip Reaves, national director of Australia-based Computer Troubleshooters, maintains that whether we are part of a small business, a multinational, or are just trying to find a recipe online at home, we spend just as much time fixing “issues” and “conflicts” on our computers as we do working on them. For the home user this is merely an inconvenience, but to a business it can add up to tens of thousands of dollars lost to decreased productivity or repairs.

Although the mere thought of trying to “fix” a computer would cause a cold sweat to break out in most people, … Read the rest

IRS Talk

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In our house we have all the necessary supplies in the event of a terrorist attack — a flashlight, bottled water and a salami. What else could we need?

Religious School Tuition

The Tax Court said “no” to an attempt to claim part of the tuition and fees paid for a taxpayer’s children’s religious school education as a charitable contribution. The court rejected their argument that their payments were similar to the tax-deductible payments allowed by the IRS to Church of Scientology members for their “auditing and training” expenditures (M. Sklar, 125 TC, No. 14).

Delinquent Student Loans

The U.S. … Read the rest

Going for Growth

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Long-Term Strategies for Managing Volatility

When the stock market exhibits more than the usual short-term ups and downs, investors’ thoughts typically turn to managing risk. Although it is usually not desirable to eliminate risk, there are strategies that may help to manage the volatility of your portfolio. A diversified investment mix, a focus on large cap growth stocks, and exposure to active portfolio managers may all help you deal with greater market volatility.

The Return of Diversification

We believe that effective diversification becomes more important in an environment of rising volatility. We expect the interrelationship of stocks and bonds to … Read the rest