Make Agreements Agreeable


We have another great issue of Agency Sales focused on Rep-Principal agreements. MANA wants to help both parties reach fair and reasonable terms in their contracts. Last month, we had a very successful teleforum with Nicki Weiss on this topic, and we discussed how the word “negotiate” can sometimes create a negative beginning to your talks. Practice some Stephen Covey: begin with the end in mind, and think win-win. Think of what is good for the other party and what is equitable. Winning a negotiation isn’t always winning.

MANA makes some great tools available to our members. We offer a Manual for the Creation of a Rep-Principal Agreement that is available in the member area of our website. It has great tips on the very important parts to be included in agreements. There are also three different template agreements that you can download, modify and print. MANA members also have access to a list of 26 attorneys who are very knowledgeable and are truly “rep” lawyers.

On another topic, I wanted to provide MANA updates in a format familiar to our members. May 1, 2010 marks the beginning ofMANA’s 63rd year of promoting, protecting,educating and connecting manufacturers’ reps and manufacturers. The MANA team has made many recent changes and great accomplishments:

  • We held our first ever marketing and sales conference, MANAFest’09 — a huge success.
  • Made major upgrades to our flagship publication, Agency Sales magazine, the voice of reps.
  • We purchased the MANA building in Aliso Viejo, Orange County, California.
  • We completely rebranded MANA with a new strategic plan, logo, and a new mission and vision.
  • We enhanced our educational program offerings with teleforums, professional development forums in cities throughout North America, webinars, new and updated publications — notably the Manual for the Creation of a Rep-Principal Agreement.
  • We revamped the rep directory database and launched the new RepFinder.
  •  We participated in many industry specific tradeshows with the new MANA booth.
  • We presented to many manufacturer groups (associations and companies) and continued to promote the rep function to all manufacturers, new and old, large and small.
  • Enhanced MANA Tele-counseling with more advice for all members.
  • Like many companies, we did all of that with a 30%+ reduction to our workforce. As we move into our new fiscal year, we are embarking on a new strategic plan focused on several key elements.
  • Member relevance: reviewing our products and services, rejuvenating some, developing new ones and constantly working on getting feedback from you, our customers.
  • Virtually virtual: utilizing new association management software, new IT and infrastructure to become more web-centric and to provide social networking communities (“tribes”) for you.
  • Association management: working to expand our service offerings to other associations.

So, tell someone about MANA, get a new member to join (rep or manufacturer). Help us to grow and continue supporting this great function and the best way to sell — with reps!

Negotiating Agreements


Negotiating a meaningful agreement between a rep and a manufacturer is key to establishing a solid relationship. The attitude from both parties needs to be “win-win” to make the relationship last long-term. How this negotiation process goes could also be an indicator of how the relationship will go.

As a rep agency, we try to focus on three key areas, whether it is an agreement for a territory or account-­to-account:

  1. Rates and/or commissions.
  2. Termination clauses.
  3. Product liability indemnification.

Most industries have established ranges for commission rates or percentages. However, these can vary within the agreement depending on business being turned … Read the rest

Closing the Sale


Whenever I ask salespeople to rate their competencies at all the different parts of the sales process, they invariably rate themselves low on closing the sale. Unfortunately, salespeople who don’t close consistently are not nearly as effective as they should be; they waste their customers’ time and their own.

Being adept at closing the sale, and every step in the process, is an important key to productivity. So, let’s examine the issue of closing, beginning with the first principle: closing is a process that always ends with your customer’s agreement to take action.

As you consider this principle, you’ll realize … Read the rest

The Truth About Negotiating


If you provide customers and principals with what they want and need in order to perform their jobs better, they’ll never walk away from you. In fact, they will follow you anywhere.

That’s the view of consultant Ross Reck, who serves on the faculty of MRERF’s CPMR program, and it’s a philosophy supported by reps who work in the trenches on a daily basis. According to Reck, once you give a customer or principal what they want by identifying and offering a solution to their problem, you will be the successful negotiator that you hope to be.

Reck, the author … Read the rest

Strategic Calling and Hidden Opportunities


Times are still tough economically, but a loosening of purse strings means you must make yourself more useful to current clients to score new business.

What growth strategy is your sales organization pursuing as the economy begins to show signs of recovery? As the business climate improves, so do the opportunities for shifting from survival mode to growth mode. Frozen budgets are beginning to thaw, and companies are starting to consider funding projects deferred during the height of the recession. If your organization has been in survival mode over the past year, you may have been focused primarily on protecting … Read the rest

Don’t Be Afraid to “Just Say No”


When Nancy Reagan uttered the words “Just Say No” several years ago, she was urging children to stay clear of the dangers of drugs. Who would have thought that those same words might serve as advice to independent manufacturers’ representatives when it comes to turning down what could be a detrimental business opportunity?

That’s exactly what John Ahler­ing, president, Coastal Technology Group, did earlier this year, and he has no regrets for his decision. Ahlering’s refusal to accept a questionable business opportunity was one he didn’t make lightly. Given the same set of circumstances, he maintains he’d make the same … Read the rest

Time Management With Social Media


Learn how to balance social media marketing with the rest of your business strategies so you’re not wasting time or opportunities.

Okay, okay, okay! Enough already! Have you had it with all the “You’ve got to be on social media” advocates incessantly reminding you that “Twitter is the new e-mail,” or how much you need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.? Many reps (and manufacturers) are confused at what to do regarding the massive change driven by social media and social networking.

What about the rest of us who have real jobs? A rep can’t spend all day “tweeting” instead … Read the rest

Rep-Principal Communication


Good communication with your reps ensures you are working toward the same goals.

One of the biggest problems that rears its ugly head between reps and principals is rooted in communication. The rep often expresses this lack of communication by saying “I didn’t know that is what you wanted.” It is not enough for a principal to just communicate a sales goal for the year.

So how do we improve rep-principal communication? It’s not that difficult; it just takes time. Here are some suggestions for what a principal should share with his reps.

Your vision of the future for your Read the rest

Ways to Out-Market the Competition


Always look for ways to strengthen and expand your marketing horizons, and stay ahead of the competition.

Out-marketing competitors is easy, if you do it right. It takes a combination of work and savvy, but the results can be positive. Frankly, the competition often makes it unusually easy. They talk about what they are going to do, but never get around to doing much. They’re successful at missing marketing opportunities.

Not everyone misses. For example, a 44-store dry-cleaning chain responded to requests for submissions for family business of the year and for community service. Detailed proposals were prepared and submitted, … Read the rest