The World at Work


“Thinking globally” is not a new business strategy. Countries have been conducting trade across many borders for centuries. And regions of the world continue to merge in many aspects, including trade, business and economy, at a much faster pace each day.

There are also many barriers and imbalances which impact the equity of world business and bring to light the social and political positions of various regions and countries. Today we have constant reminders about higher costs relative
to a host of business and political situations.

Manufacturers are required to find the lowest labor cost locations or purchase from companies in these regions. Alternatively, they can closely analyze their own production and processes and make solid choices for improvements, efficiencies and automation. Either way, they must compete in a very price-focused marketplace. The margin squeeze is on — everywhere.

As we navigate through the business challenges of the current climate, it is important for us to understand the threats and available options, and to determine our strategies for success. It really is about information and communication.

Being aware of the global marketplace is important, but it is extremely difficult to find any one person who understands all about global business. We must share our knowledge and experiences so that we can all become more aware and understand, plan and succeed.

There are numerous reps that have been doing business with offshore manufacturers for many years and in all regions of the world. We need to tap into the MANA community for this knowledge and experience — the successes and the failures! It’s all about communication, and that’s what we strive to promote.

International Sourcing


A resource for helping rep firms remain competitive.

Are your customers demanding lower pricing, just-in-time deliveries and the sharing of supply chain costs? With rising oil, raw material and labor costs, how can we satisfy this ever-increasing demand for lower total cost of ownership?

Many of our fellow reps have done just that through international sourcing. Whether you like it or not, the world is now a global marketplace offering just about every product and service imaginable. Now is the time to add international products to your line card!

How do you take advantage of these highly competitive products and … Read the rest

Creating a Sales Presence in the Global Marketplace


Companies operating only in their home market or in a limited number of global markets understandably worry about entering a foreign market. Risks are many and opportunities for problems are enormous. There is an additional risk of taking the corporate eye off the core business and revenue stream. What should a company planning to enter a foreign market do in order to protect itself from failure and improve its chances for success?

A company can create an eight-step plan that includes:

  1. Properly setting expectations.
  2. Developing a bank of resources.
  3. Studying local market norms.
  4. Hiring a country manager.
  5. Selecting a manufacturers’
Read the rest

Another Option for Dealing With Disputes


With increased globalization and a variety of products in the marketplace, more reps are finding it advantageous to represent foreign manufacturers and directly import products. Once into it, an agent may believe that the product is misclassified at a higher import duty than it should be; its product is incorrectly covered under an antidumping order; or that a country of origin dispute exists. After attempts to resolve the issue with the appropriate governmental agencies have failed, an agent may believe that litigation is an appropriate choice in achieving a remedy; however, the litigation process can seem overwhelming, and then there’s … Read the rest

Europe Seen as Fertile Ground for Reps and Manufacturers


There is an interesting dichotomy taking place as the Euro continues its show of strength vs. the U.S. dollar. On the one hand, we have economic statistics indicating that European exports continue to increase as a portion of GDP. While a considerable portion of these exported goods and services are traded to members of the European community, large amounts are exported to countries outside the European community. In fact, figures indicate that since 2002, exports from what we might consider the “Euro zone” continue to outpace imports.

On the other hand, this European import/export scenario continues to play out at Read the rest

A Rep Changes With a Changing World


What rep wouldn’t like to hear the following words from a principal? “We want you to become so successful that you become a millionaire. If that happens that means we’re going to become multi-millionaires.”

In addition to flying in the face of much of what reps have heard in the past, the above words were music to the ears of John Aiello, PSE Associates, LLC, Guilford, Connecticut. But who would have guessed that the music would be coming from beyond the Pacific Rim?

According to Aiello, who’s been a MANA member since 1992, “I’ve always been a bearings rep. As … Read the rest

Business Trends Every Salesperson Should Know


Every industry and profession goes through changes, and the sales profession is no different.

Just because a certain sales technique or mindset worked in the past doesn’t mean it’ll work today. To be a top-performing salesperson today and in the future, you need to continually adapt to both market and social conditions. With that in mind, there are six new business trends taking place — all of which affect salespeople in every industry. Understand what the trends are and how to maximize them so you can reap the rewards of a successful sales career.

Your past success will increasingly hold Read the rest

Critical Skills for Sales Success


I’m frequently asked, “What are the most important skills a sales professional must have to succeed in today’s competitive market?” The first step in acquiring the skills for success is recognizing that a sales professional is a professional, just as physicians, attorneys and commercial pilots are professionals.

There are three critical components that form a solid foundation for professional skills development and result in exceptional performance for all professionals. They are systems, skills and disciplines.

The system is a set process or organized procedure that leads to a predictable result. Skills consist of the individual’s knowledge and their ability to … Read the rest

Connect With the Buyer


Ten-year old Billy Johnson just got home from school. He’s been thinking about an ice cream bar all day. He wants it badly. Unfortunately, the only person at the Johnson house is his teenage sister, Susie. As Billy approaches her, she quickly anticipates his agenda and cuts him off. “Billy, you can’t have an ice cream bar. It’s too close to dinner and it will ruin your appetite.”

It’s over. Billy’s cooked without a chance to negotiate or be heard? Why? He didn’t reach the ultimate decision-maker. But wait, who’s that walking in the house in good spirits and a … Read the rest

Start Setting “No-Goals” Today


It’s 11:35 a.m. on Monday and Chris Wilkerson is smiling. Having completed his second sales call of the day, he finds himself two-for-two — two appointments, two sales! As he strides toward his car, having hit his goal for the week, he makes a cell phone call to reserve a 1 p.m. tee time for an unexpected but well-deserved round of golf. And in the blink of an eye, a great day begins to take a quick slide toward an average week, all because Chris started his process by setting the wrong goals.

Everyone knows the importance of setting goals. … Read the rest

Tips for Trade Show Success


Trade shows are a staple of U.S. marketing and sales activities. For years manufacturers have diligently worked these shows seeking exposure for their brand and their products. At the same time, independent manufacturers’ reps have been called upon time and again by their manufacturers to assist in manning these booths. While what follows was written primarily for foreign manufacturers looking for a big splash in this country, the advice offered can just as easily be applied to domestic manufacturers.

The following was provided by Joe Miller, former president and CEO of MANA.

Trade shows are often an important part of … Read the rest

Social Networking for Business Profit


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about social networking as it applies to technology. And since I’m focused on relationship marketing and how to build communities, this has been a subject of particular interest to me.

Much of what has been done with many networks has emphasized the signing-up part with little practical business value. Everyone wants everyone else to sign up and “friend” each other. However, nothing much happens in most cases after you’ve signed up and have been “friended.” It reminds me of the off-line model of going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting where … Read the rest

Good to Know


“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” — Bill Gates

Retirement Plans and Bankruptcy

The new bankruptcy act contains different protections for various retirement plans of a bankrupt individual:

  • Funds held in an employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan (ERISA) are immune from creditors’ claims in an unlimited amount.
  • Funds held in a conventional IRA or Roth IRA are immune from creditors’ claims, but only up to $1 million.
  • Funds held in a rollover IRA from an employee sponsored qualified retirement plan are immune from creditors’ claims in an unlimited amount.

CAUTION: None of the … Read the rest

Reversing the Role — How to Talk to Your Parents About Money


Regardless of whether you and your parents have always talked freely about money, or you have never discussed the subject, there may be important financial issues that you need to raise with them as they — and you — grow older. The following topics can help you start thinking about and planning for that conversation.

Getting Started

When you decide the time is right to discuss financial needs and priorities with your parents, be clear about your intentions, but also let them know that you are not trying to pry and that you respect their privacy.

An initial conversation should … Read the rest