Looking to the Future


When I learned of this month’s Agency Sales theme, I first pictured George Jetson with Astro in his back seat making sales calls, and Luke Sky-walker selling lightsabers with an exclusive territory of three galaxies and no house accounts. Then I thought, maybe we should just focus on the near future, perhaps even just this decade.

The rep of the future will be more technologically equipped, better trained, highly educated and more professional. Not only will they know more about their products, but also about the key business aspects of their own rep agency, such as planning, operations, marketing and selling. However, one key element that will stay the same, as it always has, is the importance of the rep’s relationships with their customers.

A rep is the ultimate communications expert. We live in a culture of information addiction. Enhanced with the latest communication devices, the rep of the future will continue to succeed by doing what great reps do: moving information quickly, accurately and reliably. The focus will remain on answering every customer and principal question immediately, and solving every problem quickly and thoroughly.

Expanding their businesses with the use of social media networks, emerging video technologies and online meetings, reps will seek out every new tool that could possibly create new business opportunities. The rep of the future will strive for inefficiencies in all aspects of their agency with respect to time management, travel, office locations, and overall costs. Nevertheless, they will maintain a sales focus — the most performance-based model of selling there is.

The rep of the future will become even more customer-centric and have a greater determination to build stronger relationships at all accounts, big and small. Reps with vision will “follow” their customers to all corners of the business world to solve the continued issues of globalization, outsourcing, mergers and acquisitions. They will make whatever change necessary to have a more global/ international business model, with a heightened emphasis on opportunities in Asia and Europe.

Keep in mind that our customers don’t demand much — only more, better and faster, for less. We must continue to deliver. As you position your agency and yourself toward becoming the rep of the future, remember that it’s all about the customer. Look, learn, and seek out new things that enhance professional success. Network and share with other reps; we can all become better.

You are the rep of the future — so be it!

The Rep of the Future


This month’s Agency Sales feature is the “Rep of the Future.” If you look back at the history of the manufacturers’ rep business, since its inception over a century ago it has changed significantly. Given the current sales environ­ment, it’s a sure bet things will continue to change at an even faster pace. All of us in the rep business would love to have a crystal ball that could give us a clear picture of what things will look like just a few years down the road.

That crystal ball unfortunately only exists in fiction. There is no way to … Read the rest

MANA Manufacturer Works With Reps to Create Demand


A sea change has occurred in the way customers buy. This, combined with rapid-fire innovation of technological tools, has altered the way independent manufacturers’ representatives create demand and otherwise anticipate and meet the needs of their principals and customers. Should we view this as good or bad, a threat or an opportunity? To properly understand what has happened and what continues to occur in the marketplace, it’s necessary to appreciate the fact that the way the customer acts today is much different than yesterday.

Flattening of the Customer Base

The historical top-down pyramidal structure of U.S. business management has been … Read the rest

Relationships Remain Key to the Rep’s Future


Technology will be increasingly crucial for reps, but face-to­-face interaction is still the best way to keep your customers and principals.

Years ago, comedian Johnny Carson would appear as the turbaned psychic “Carnac the Magnificent” to amuse The Tonight Show audience by answering unopened questions or making humorous predictions about the future. Looking to the future is no joke to independent manufacturers’ reps, however. Several reps seriously ponder their future at the beginning of a new decade, as they emerge from what could best be described as chal­lenging economic times.

The major upcoming change Vincent Matteis, CPMR, anticipates is that … Read the rest

Putting a Stalled Economy Behind You


If we’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s simply that nothing is easy. No matter what the product or industry, doing business — and staying in business — is no picnic. That may not change much in the next year or so, either. Despite a few hopeful signs, most Americans seem to think that a cold economic winter will be around for a while.

While the state of the economy sets certain parameters, we do our­selves a disservice if we believe that determines whether we succeed or fail. John and Peter Greene came back into the ground … Read the rest

Smart Role-Playing Makes Selling Fun Again!


Practice makes perfect. Use the “batting cage” approach to get salespeople excited about perfecting their skills and landing the sale.

Ask sales reps how they feel about role-playing, and you’ll likely see raised eyebrows and rolling eyeballs. No surprise there. Who wants to look and feel like a complete idiot in front of the boss or (even worse) your peers? After all, we spend so much time telling everyone how good we are and how much we know about selling. “A role-play? Please. We don’t need no stinking role-plays.” But, wait! (Does this sound like a ShamWow commercial, yet?) Role-plays … Read the rest

Sales Versatility: Connecting With Customers Every Time


When it comes to sales, the most important thing is the customer. By improving your salestream’s adaptability to different customers and situations, you can increase your sales noticeably.

As a sales leader, you probably debrief sales calls, review sales campaigns, analyze prospecting activity, and ride along on certain customer calls to observe or assist. No doubt you have noticed that each salesperson has some customers and prospects that they easily connect with, and others that they don’t. And you might have seen cases where the same approach that succeeded with one prospect or customer caused another to become impatient and … Read the rest

How Far Apart Are We?


Going to court may not always be in your best interest. Take a logical approach to determine your odds of winning or losing.

Every experienced litigator has been in the situation of winning a case and nevertheless facing an unhappy client. More often than not, at the end of a lawsuit, neither side is happy with the outcome. As a general rule in this country, attorneys’ fees are not recoverable by the prevailing party. Thus, after taking into consideration attorneys’ fees and other costs of litigation, the party making the claim often believes he received less than a full recovery, … Read the rest

The Secret to Great Linkedin Recommendations


If you want it done right, do it yourself: help your clients write and post their recommendations.

The online social networking site LinkedIn lets you connect with your business network, allowing you to stay in touch, build relationships and keep up­to-date with important changes to your contacts’ situ­ations — such as employment changes or business de­velopments. LinkedIn also has the ability to help build your credibility with new connections and potential prospects using the Recommendations feature.

Recommendations are testimonials added to your LinkedIn profile by existing connections in your network who have worked with you and want to share their … Read the rest

Examining the Rep’s Value Proposition


A rep spends valuable time and money building beneficial relationships and sales skills, making them a cost and sales-saving choice for many manufacturers.

Several years ago, Debra Woods was faced with the task of justifying the continued use of her company’s network of independent manufacturers’ representatives. She quickly offered a convincing value proposition that tipped the scales in favor of retaining reps. Her experience serves as a valuable lesson to others faced with the same dilemma.

Woods, who is currently the national sales manager for Control Instruments Co., Fairfield, New Jersey, details the scenario that involved a company she previously … Read the rest