Truly Successful Manufacturer-Rep Relationships: Collaboration, Cooperation and Communication


Are you right for success in the rep world?

Our recent MANA survey resulted in some fresh new ideas about what reps and manufacturers expect and want from MANA. There were lots of comments about helping both parties come together and understand each other better. Thanks for the ideas about improved collaboration, better cooperation and the key to it all: clear communication.

These are easy words that require fairly difficult and consistent actions. We have talked about selecting the right rep, getting and setting clear expectations and being on the same team. In recent times, all of us have been tested to determine which relationships are long term, and who had the persistence and patience to continue to see it through. Doing the right thing and doing it well has never been more important.

It’s easy to blame and judge others on your team. In fact, I think we have really created low levels of trust and high levels of blame. This is not part of a winning recipe. We will all have good days and bad days, and we will make mistakes. It’s the only way we grow. Growth is all about new, and new is all about change, so do something different. You must!

MANA can really help. We’re in the business of promoting the rep function and, as obvious as it sounds, we do it for the good of mutual success — for reps and manufacturers. We know clearly that outsourcing sales to a professional manufacturers’ rep is the best method to take products to market. The intellectual property of manufacturers’ reps is the knowledge of and relationships with their customers. This is what they do best.

The Q1 2010 focus of Agency Sales has been on the partnership between manufacturers and reps. Hopefully we are not reiterating too much, nor simplifying this seemingly magical recipe of truth, trust and respect. Success is really about building relationships into partnerships that sustain and survive through the good and the bad times. YOU make the relationship work.

It’s all about open and honest communication, fair and reasonable collaboration on expectations and goals and true cooperation by both rep and manufacturer that focus on the number one person in your lives: the customer! (OK, maybe the number two person.)

Working Together to Grow Sales


Hey, Mr./Ms. Rep Firm owner,
Why are you in business? To save the world? Maybe. To provide for your family and employees? Probably. To grow your business? Definitely!

The number one reason you get up every day and go to work as a manufacturers’ sales representative is to grow your manufacturers’ market share in your sales territory, period! That’s what leads to higher commission dollars. So how do we ensure the we are accomplishing that goal of continued sales growth? We need two things:

  1. A mutually developed sales plan with accurate forecasting.
  2. Effective ongoing communication updating the sales results.

Working … Read the rest

Preparing for Recovery


The recession is over — but it doesn’t feel like it to anyone except economists. When I see a guy fall into a ten-foot hole, I say he’s in recession. When he hits bot­tom, picks himself up, and takes one step upward, I say that he’s out of recession and in recovery. The truth is that he’s nine feet down a ten-foot hole. That’s exactly where the American economy is today.

The strengths leading to the recovery include con­sumers having money in their pockets, thanks to hav­ing raised their savings rate in 2009. Businesses need to re-stock their inventory, which … Read the rest

Rep and Manufacturer: Partners From Day One


Careful consideration on the part of a principal when search­ing for new reps ensures the right fit, beneficial synergy, and future success for both rep and manufacturer.

Rob Stohlman has been the vice president of sales for Service Stampings for about three years. When asked for his thoughts on working with independent manufacturers’ representatives, he good- naturedly admits, “Before I took on this job, I can safely say I never met a rep in captivity… in my life.” During his relatively short tenure with Service Stampings, how­ever, he has only worked with reps. Since he’s now met and worked with … Read the rest

Arm Yourself With the Proper Follow-Up Tools


Follow-up is essential to your success. Many tools are out there to help you tailor your own follow-up system to capture as many sales as possible.

Despite the stereotype of the annoying salesperson who is always pestering you to buy something, the fact is that people want to do business with those who show exceptional follow-up skills. While they don’t want to be bullied or stalked for their business, they do want to work with a salesperson who takes the initiative to educate them, remind them and keep them abreast of current offerings.

Unfortunately, most salespeople lack decent follow-up skills. … Read the rest

Synergy + Sense = Relationships


For one manufacturer, years of experience working with reps have shaped a successful formula for determining the right fit. Synergy and chemistry are the essential ingredients.

“Synergy” and “economic sense” are the words Karla Clem, president & COO of Polo Custom Products, uses to open a conversation as to why her company has successfully been using independent manufacturers’ representatives for close to 40 years.

The manufacturer, located in Topeka, Kansas, has more than 60 years experience in contract manufacturing. The company specializes in custom industrial sewing, RF welding and thermoforming using flexible, pliable materials such a vinyl, nylon, urethane, aramids, … Read the rest

Stimulus Act Accompanies Tax Changes


Tax law changes from the Stimulus Act could affect how you file in April.

On February 17, 2009 the American Recovery and Re investment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (the Stimulus Act) was signed into law by President Obama. The law was designed to get money into the hands of taxpayers to help stimulate the floundering economy. Time will tell whether it is the catalyst the politicians hoped it would be.

However, there are some potential tax savings for small- to medium-sized business owners, both on an individual and business level, that could help out as April approaches. While reviewing your … Read the rest

Create Social Media Guidelines to Reach Your Customers


Be sure to establish your intended message and convey guidelines to your employees so they can be credible representatives for your company.

The new frontier of Web 2.0 is not just about informing your customers; it’s about communicating with them. Today’s Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the many other social media options, are all about customer engagement.

When you send your prospects or clients an e-mail, a mailer or a newsletter, or when you place a TV, radio or print ad, you’re informing your audience about something. Those are information-age tools that still have a … Read the rest

A Short Course in Avoiding Marketing Stupidity


Learn from the mistakes of other companies and use marketing successfully.

It’s the issues we ignore that always get us. The CEO of one of the nation’s largest banks thought the board of directors was backing him when they were actually quietly finding a replacement for him. How could he have been caught off guard?

Being caught off guard may be one of the most problematic business issues today. Just when we think we have our arms around something, particularly when it comes to marketing, we’re not only surprised, but also embarrassed.

Here is a short course in avoiding marketing … Read the rest