Principle Centered Principals


What are the best habits and practices of the principals we represent? We often say that there are only two types of manufacturers when it comes to reps, those who “get it” and those who don’t.

There are a lot of great manufacturers, and many of them are strong supporters and members of MANA. These “best” manufacturers have a top down and total team directed dedication and commitment to the successful partnership with outsourced professional field sales (Independent manufacturers’ representatives). They understand the recipe for mutual success and focus on the ultimate goal — sales growth.

There are many great things that the best principals do and have:

  • The owner, president, CEO believe in the rep function.
  • Truly partner with reps, and don’t perceive reps as the “necessary evil.”
  • Mutual trust and respect for, and with their reps.
  • In general, they “get it” and recognize that nothing happens until they get an order!
  • Provide great sales tools, samples, literature, RFQ forms, spec sheets, etc.
  • Develop strong marketing plans and advertising for their products.
  • Distribute solid leads to the reps.
  • Research new business opportunities with their reps.
  • Share sales success stories with all their reps (“SOS” — Selling On Successes).
  • Have great information systems with respect to sales reports, commission statements, etc.
  • Have great operational systems overall, they never say “our system won’t let us.”
  • Are dedicated to knocking down barriers and obstacles that prevent sales.
  • Are focused on the customer and work to satisfy their wants and needs.

In highly successful relationships between the best principals and reps, mutually agreed upon goals and sales targets are set. There is clear agreement on the expectations, from both sides. These strategies, goals and expectations are kept in focus, and reviewed periodically throughout the year. Both the principal and the rep are pushing hard toward the ultimate goal — growing sales at existing accounts and developing business at new accounts. They work in harmony. This may sound idealistic, and I don’t want to make this sound easy. This type of relationship, between the best principals and the right reps, does not occur often enough. It takes time, energy and commitment to make the relationship work. The best principals also really take their time when selecting a new rep firm for a territory. They know it is about finding the right rep for their company. not all rep-principal marriages work!

In these difficult times we find that people do desperate things. don’t do that. Be a principal with solid principles. Be truthful, have trust and respect for everyone. now is the perfect time to work on solidifying your good relationships and to build new relationships for 2010.

Happy New Year! May you create prosperity and happiness in 2010.

Good Selling.

So Long 2009


2009 is gone and many of us are saying, “Thank heavens.” It was a difficult year for many independent reps. There are few industries that came out on the positive side of what has proven to be a devastating year in terms of sales increases, profits, etc. On top of all this, widespread commission cuts work as a double hit against IMR’s. So let’s wave goodbye and good riddance to 2009. But not so fast. As much as we all need to look forward and work at making things better, there’s an opportunity to look in the rear view and Read the rest

Is Your Sales Team Creating Real Differentiation?


To avoid the pitfalls of competing on price, salespeople are often told they need to “sell the value.”

Another strategy is to “value-add,” by offering the customer extra services or product features without charge. While these strategies can be effective short-term, neither of these approaches produces a sustainable advantage. Selling the value implies that the salesperson either truly understands what the customer values, or that the value offered is perceived as significantly different from the competing offerings. All too often, neither one of these is true. At the same time, a value-add strategy has its own drawbacks. While it may … Read the rest

Avoid R-Rated Communications Abroad


Key Principles for Principals Entering the International Marketplace

Last month we discussed the opportunities that exist by taking your products abroad. Although the U.S. is still the largest market in the world, many other emerging markets offer vast opportunities for the right products and marketers.

But before you run off to sell your latest product to India, take the time to verify the accuracy of your communications. If both rep and manufacturing principals do not carefully review what you are saying, you may find that your adventure to a foreign land turns out to be a failure.

Believe it or … Read the rest

Surviving or Thriving — Is There an Option?

By and

The Pease Group, on behalf of MANA, has been conducting workshops addressing the need for member and non-member manufacturers’ representative network training. This was the eighth year providing this invaluable service and, in many ways, the most challenging. The main purpose for conducting these seminars is to promote a fluid measurement structure within industrial and commercial rep sales force teams, and to create mutual accountability for driving sustainable bottom line results. No doubt the challenge this year was to create the right business plan not just to survive, but to actually thrive in this tumultuous environment.

With the worst economic … Read the rest

Salespeople Under Siege:
The Professional Redefined


Connecting with customers is harder than ever. These days you must imagine new ways to help your customers — prove yourself invaluable.

Whether we like to talk about it or not, the sales profession has been under siege for years, and the siege won’t be ending any time soon. “What will happen when I can no longer get in front of people and work my magic?” This question was posed by a highly successful, but confused, salesperson that was losing access to customers and prospects he counted on for sales. The year was 1998.

If he were still in sales … Read the rest

7 Habits Not to Break


Hank Bergson weighs in on Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and what they can mean for manufacturers in conducting smarter business.

A year ago, Agency Sales engaged in a dialogue devoted to attributes that independent manufacturers’ representatives ought to possess if they hope to be successful with their principals and customers. Moving to the other side of the aisle this year, we’re going to consider what principals must possess in their relationships with reps.

To get the conversation off the starting line, consider the 1989 book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since … Read the rest

The Role of Adversity in Shaping a Salesperson’s Character


I still remember the worst sales call I ever made. More than just remember, I react to the memory with a queasy feeling in my stomach, every time I think about it. It wasn’t just a bad sales call; it was a humiliating, embarrassing event that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

There is something about adversity that has the power to linger forever in our memories, shaping our character and molding our behavior for the rest of our lives. Adversity can take countless forms. It can be a gut-wrenching incident, like my worst sales call, or more poignantly, something … Read the rest

The Rep’s Contribution to the Marketing Sandwich


It’s not unusual for some observers to compare the rep’s role in the marketing channel to one leg of a three-legged stool. If the rep occupies one leg, then the other two are occupied by the manufacturer and customer. It’s a good analogy, since the absence of any one leg results in a lack of support that will cause the stool to fall over, rendering it unusable. Peter Oppici provides a better analogy as he envisions the rep as an essential ingredient in a marketing sandwich.

Oppici, vice president of Applied Motion Solutions, Brentwood, New Hampshire, sells motors, drives, controls, … Read the rest

After the Ball Drops


If you have ever visited a health club on January 2nd, you know the places are packed. All around the country, people are feverishly running on treadmills and elliptical machines; they’re pushing weights above their heads; and they’re doing sit-ups like it’s their job. “This will be my year,” they say, as they punish themselves in spinning classes. People like this make up 30% of a gym’s annual new memberships. And in three weeks, most of them won’t be back until the next year.

The crowd has dispersed and left behind are the same dedicated people that were there well … Read the rest

The Golden Key to Spousal Business Succession


A state of temporary confusion typically engulfs a loved one when notified that their husband or wife has just been in a serious accident or passed away. The atmosphere is often charged with high emotion. Suddenly the world is turned upside down for the surviving spouse. Soon life-altering decisions will have to be made, especially when a family business is involved.

Consider the story of Amanda whose husband Tory was seriously injured while riding his motorcycle. Even though she had worked in their business, she was totally unprepared to replace Tory as principal operator. It was apparent that the business … Read the rest

Unique Opportunity in an Untapped Market


Licensing intellectual property presents a new opportunity for reps in today’s digital age, but this emerging market requires the fine-tuning of contracts to reflect a new way of selling.

We live in an economy that is, more than ever, driven by technology. As a result, there are a growing number of companies that are in the business of developing, owning and marketing patents, trademarks and other intellectual property. as with traditional manufacturers of goods and providers of services, these companies may occasionally turn to independent sales representatives for their sales and marketing.

This offers sales reps in a variety of … Read the rest