Rep Education — Where Do I Find That?


Rep education is both sales education and business operations education.

I had to chuckle when our Agency Sales team said that this month’s feature focus was “Rep Education.” I asked them if it would be okay for me to fill the page with the word “MANAfest!”

Reps are great communicators, great relationship builders, great ultra-multi-taskers, great visionaries, and most of all, great salespeople. I’m not so sure, however, that all reps are great business managers. And I’m certain that reps do not invest enough into their own continuing education and professional development, which in my opinion, is their number one weakness.

Rep Education, huh? I know you’re rolling your eyes. In the June 2008 issue of Agency Sales, the lead to my editorial was “Need advice? No thanks. I’m a rep — I already know everything.” I think that in many cases this attitude prevails, and we often hear, “I’ve been doing this (selling) for 30, 40 years…. Why would I need to learn anything new?” Taking a look at the current state of the economy, your industry, and very simply, the overall climate of the rep business, you really have to ask yourself: Am I prepared for the current challenges?

Gerhard Gschwandtner from Selling Power magazine says that “sales is the engine of the economy” in the 21st century. Are you a pacesetter in the racing pace of selling? Are you in the race, in the pits, or are you in the upper level of the stands? My father always says, “Some people make things happen, some people watch things happen, and some people stand there and wonder what happened” — which are you?

Are you up on all the tools of selling and successfully leading the business operations of your rep agency? Just like a carpenter, a plumber, or any tradesman, the tools, materials and techniques are greatly improved from years ago, and as is the case in the rep business, the tools improve every day.

Life-long learning is the key to success.

The Importance of Ongoing Education and Training


As we stress the importance of education and training in this issue of Agency Sales, I can’t help but think of Stephen Covey’s message on how important it is that we constantly work at sharpening the saw. You can never assume that you know everything you should know about your profession and that’s especially true about the rep profession. Reps are fortunate — perhaps more fortunate than people in other professions — in that we have so many opportunities to “sharpen our saws.” Perhaps at the top of the list of training/educational opportunities that we can avail ourselves of … Read the rest

The Rep Profession Has Undergone a Veritable Sea of Changes


When Dan McQuiston speaks to the need for constant education and training for independent manufacturers’ reps, his words carry the same weight as those of Tom Friedman in his best-selling book Hot, Flat and Crowded.

Where the Pulitzer Prize-winning Friedman warns that societies had better change the way they live if they want to inhabit a hospitable world in the future, McQuiston, Ph.D., CSP, says reps had better recognize their profession has undergone a veritable sea change. On the one hand, Friedman maintains that people who don’t recognize that the world has become too hot, too flat and too crowded … Read the rest

How to Cultivate a Network of Endless Referrals


You’re a high-caliber sales professional. Your knowledge and wisdom are exceptional, and the value of what you offer is undeniable. But, if you’re like many, finding new, high-quality prospects to fill your sales funnel and keep it filled is often a challenge.

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Whom do I speak to next, now that my list of prospects is running out?” If you’re not consistently cultivating new, qualified prospects and referral sources, you’re leaving money on the table and keeping many willing people from utilizing your expertise and deriving the benefits of your product or service.

While … Read the rest

Proven Ways to Win More Business


How fast things change these days! It seems like just yesterday Starbucks was pouring it on opening new stores. Then before you could down that luscious latte, they’re closing them. Up until a few minutes ago, Boomers were getting ready to retire. Now they’re trying to hang on to their jobs as their retirement savings evaporate. Last year, we worried about our competitors, now we’re concerned about our own company.

All this is enough to make us wonder what the immediate future holds. Some businesses are worried about getting through the storm, while others are considering new possibilities.

The year Read the rest

The 10 Traits of Effective Reps, Part III


In the January issue, we began a series of articles examining the traits needed for an independent manufacturers’ representative to be successful. The traits are borrowed from a book entitled Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals: From Good to Great Performance, by Elaine K. McEwan. The traits we examined in the January and February issues were Culture Builder, Communicator, Producer and Facilitator. This month we follow with a study of the rep as both a Change Master and an Educator.

The Rep as Change Master

The timing and the times couldn’t have been any more appropriate for MANA member … Read the rest

A Day in the Life on an “Agent”


The United States and the United Kingdom share a great deal. Part of our name, for a start, describes the coming together — the uniting at some point in history — of groups of disparate peoples. Common values, personal liberty, culture, economic and political ideology, language — hang on a minute! Did I say language? Did I say “pavement” when I should have said “sidewalk”? Did I say “nappy” when I should have said “diaper”? Tap/Faucet? Semi /Lorry? “I may do it later” vs. “I’ll take a rain check”? The list goes on. And here in our own business of … Read the rest

Overcoming Beliefs That Limit Your Sales Performance


“I have great relationships with my customers.” That is one of the most debilitating myths around — one that cripples the performance of the average corporate salesperson. And yet it is endemic within the population of salespeople. I am not sure that there is a salesperson anywhere who doesn’t, to some extent, believe it.

For example, I have never yet had a salesperson come to me at the break of one of my seminars, and sheepishly confess that his customers really don’t like him. It’s never happened and probably never will.

I have, on the other hand, heard senior sales Read the rest

A Down Economy Can Be Good for Reps


As if the anecdotal evidence from MANA and some of its sister rep associations needs any backing, more reps are reporting there’s been an ‘uptick’ in the number of manufacturers who are contacting them during these trying economic times.

The number of calls from manufacturers desiring to learn more about working with and locating representation has increased to the various association headquarters. Part of the increase in interest stems from the fact that manufacturers — just as other businesses — are cutting back on their staffing, and that includes personnel in their outside sales force. Since contracting with independent manufacturers’ Read the rest

Using Social Networking and Relationship Marketing to Improve Your Bottom Line


What is going on with this social networking buzz?  Well, for marketers and businesspeople serious about making money — a lot!

If you’re like the bottom-line focused businessperson that I am, you might have questions about this whole social networking rave.  Yes, it is nice to see people connecting.  And yes, it started with college kids sharing about things that normally don’t pass the “So what?” test in business.

But the world has changed.

It has changed in a big way.  Social networking is a prime way to reach prospects, suppliers, vendors and colleagues today.  Television isn’t what it used Read the rest

IRS — Bad News


“Wall Street has correctly predicted 11 out of the last 5 recessions.” (Old street saying)

Independent Contractors (ICs) — Bad News

As I have written about, perhaps 100 times over the years, there is a continual fight between the IRS and many businesses — over whether an individual is an “employee” or an “independent contractor (IC).” The major difference in costs to the employer is, of course, all the related payroll tax costs — plus the extra expense of reporting individuals as “employees.” For example, even at the highest levels, there is a current fight over the status of delivery Read the rest