Selling Successes


I absolutely love to hear reps tell stories of great selling situations and their resulting successes. Even if it was years ago, you can hear their enthusiasm, feel their passion, and see the excitement in their eyes as if it had just happened yesterday. Think of your own big hits and major wins in the rep business and let yourself drift into those emotions again. Do you remember the details and how it felt?

Today is certainly different — the big wins are much less frequent and much more difficult. Selling, in general, has changed, and many of you have made necessary adjustments to continue on the path of success. Human nature makes us creatures of habit, which in turn can make “change” difficult or uncomfortable at best.

Many people operate with a “scarcity” mentality and truly believe that there is not enough pie to go around. As a result, they feel the need to grab their pieces while they can. The good news is, today there are fewer rep companies, and fewer reps mean that there actually is enough pie to go around, especially for the good reps that survive and thrive.

Reps are skeptical animals. It can be difficult to get them to share good information about changes they’ve made, what they’re doing differently, and especially these days, to tell you about their sales successes. It’s important to remember, however, that your fellow reps are not your competitors. Your real competitor is direct sales. And this is precisely why you must share information, network, be part of the rep community, and actively participate in the association that strongly supports your function (MANA, or any one of our sister associations).

“So,” you ask, “where do I find and share all of these great ideas and success stories?”

Well, I’m glad you mentioned it. Here are a few places that you can start:

  • Agency Sales Magazine — Write to us if you have something to share or read articles from past issues.
  • Webinars, Teleforums, Blogs — Access great sales tips, success stories, new ways of doing things — by phone or internet.
  • Publications — Books, special reports, contract guidelines and manuals are available online and in print.
  • MANA Chapter Meetings and All Rep Events — A great opportunity to tell your story in person and learn from the experiences of your peers.
  • MANAfest 2009 — Save the date for this great learning experience — productive fun with fellow reps.

Links to all of these (and much more!) can be accessed in the Member Area of MANAonline.

So, have no fear. Go out and network, share freely, and compare selling successes — in the name of rep success!

A Recipe for Success in the Rep Industry


For many years, one of my friends ran a very successful one‑man agency. He had a handful of principals and managed to keep the principals and customers very happy. He maintained most of his principals through the years, and after a considerable amount of windshield time, he is now enjoying a very comfortable retirement.

One of the reasons this friend was able to stay in business for such a long time (with little change of his lines) was his philosophy of trying not to burn any bridges. In fact, he was able to get one line back after having been … Read the rest

Rep Success — A Long-Range Vision Makes Sense


If you ask the relatively uninformed what manufacturers’ reps do for a living, chances are the answer will be something along the lines of make calls, take orders, and follow up.

There’s much more that comprises the rep’s day, however, and much of what they do is often taken for granted if not totally unknown to customers and principals. Consider the efforts of the following two reps who spend countless hours on the road each year to communicate with and educate prospects and customers, as they go far beyond the “call-making” regimen.

Part I — Making a Plan

For close … Read the rest

Tips for Managing Your Principal Relations


Reps resolve to never lose a line as a result of their value not being understood or appreciated by a principal. “We are going another direction. Thank you for your help in the past.” With those words, Zink Marketing saw more than $300,000 in annual commission disappear into thin air.

Zink Marketing, a division of Zink Foodservice Group, Columbus, Ohio, is a foodservice and equipment rep firm with 22 outside and 16 inside personnel. Sales had grown 50 percent in the previous two years. Market share had also increased substantially. “It was difficult to understand why someone in a multi-billion … Read the rest

Reps Find Signs of Life in a Recovering Economy


While the majority of attendees at this year’s Keystone Conference purported that their goals were more than met for networking with reps from their own and other industries, there was much more to experience at the three-day Baltimore, Maryland, event than just meeting with peers.

This third event, jointly sponsored by MANA, NEMRA and MAFSI, provided plenty of opportunities for reps to meet with like-minded sales professionals, a full complement of rep-directed programming met educational needs.

The passage of a couple of months’ time since the meeting provides the perfect lens through which to view the economic comments of Martin … Read the rest

Reps Get Advice on Every Aspect of the Business


Networking opportunities and candid conversations were the hallmarks of this year’s AIM/R Management Conference, just as they have been for well over three decades.

This year’s conference, the association’s 36th, at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida, was highlighted by a wealth of rep, manufacturer and distributor panels that tackled everything from describing the attributes of the ideal rep to how to succeed in the face of a struggling economy.

During the various panel discussions, participants, which included reps, wholesalers and manufacturers, tackled a number of questions/topics that were generated by reps in attendance. Included in those discussions … Read the rest

Why Great Planning Strategies Fail


A key to effective planning in today’s hyperlinked world is reducing “time to action” — gaining new knowledge and making it actionable so that you can make your move ahead of the competition and before market shifts put you behind the curve.

Whether a vacation, a new house, or next year’s revenues — any plan for future action is based on assumptions. Some assumptions — for example, “No one will get sick,” “The building will be sound,” or “This year’s revenues are the baseline” — are so basic that they don’t need to be recorded or discussed. Other assumptions, however, … Read the rest

Outsourced Sales — Money-Maker or Deal-Breaker?


The benefits of outsourcing the sales function were examined earlier this year by Brian Shannon, president of EJB World Trade and co-founder of The Sales MBA. In an article that appeared on the website for Sales & Marketing Management magazine, Shannon maintained that outsourcing different parts of your business is not a new concept. In fact, most of you probably have heard of it or are doing it already. But what about outsourcing the sales function of your business?

How does an outsourced sales partner work? In most cases, when you partner with a company to provide outsourced sales (also … Read the rest

YouTube — Marketing in the Age of Now and Wow!


Bam! Wham! Kersplat! Did you hear that cacophony of noise? It is the shotgun fire and the falling of the old way of marketing. That old way of marketing is dead — or on the resuscitator and gasping for its last breath.

Relationship marketing is what rules today. If you still think you can win the hearts and minds of people by shoving a bunch of stuff at them, you belong back in the 1950s with black-and-white television. Welcome to the new way of marketing where Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM) is the way to do it.

YouTube is an example … Read the rest

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007


“If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” — Warren Buffett

By now almost all of you have heard about this tax act, hurriedly passed in the waning hours of 2007 — and a few of you may even really understand it. Unfortunately, a number of of you may have been caught in the sub-prime adjustable rate mortgage debacle and bumped up against the provisions of this law. And some of you have found out to your absolute horror that this high-sounding law would not be of the slightest help to you! The … Read the rest

Keep Your Portfolio in Balance With an Annual Review


Your target asset allocation, or the mix of stocks and bonds you have chosen to pursue your investment goals, provides the foundation for your financial plan. However, even the most appropriate asset allocation may be driven off-track by a number of factors, including bouts of market volatility. Given the turbulence that has prevailed over the stock market during much of the past year, now may be an ideal time to determine whether recent market performance has affected your asset allocation’s “balance.”

A portfolio review should be an integral part of an annual financial review that examines all aspects of your … Read the rest