A New Perspective on Networking


In their recent book, Tribal Leadership, authors Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright talk about the development of “triads,” three-way relationships in level four and level five organizations — the ones that are highly successful. In levels three and lower, the relationships are two-way. There’s a certain dynamic that occurs in a triad that doesn’t occur in a one-on-one or even in a four-way relationship.

In many of these triads, one of the members acts as a broker, introducing the other two parties in the triad to each other and facilitating the creation of the relationships. As a manufacturers’ rep, you may focus on your relationships with your customers and your relationships with your principals. Have you thought about creating a triad? Rather than one relationship with your customer and another with the principal, what about acting as the broker and creating a three-way relationship? In talking with some very successful MANA members, it appears that’s the way they do it. The customer, the principal, and the manufacturers’ rep are each part of the triad, all partners invested in the relationship. Getting “face time” in these relationships is never an issue.

In talking with other members, we sense more separate relationships: one between them and the customer and another between them and the principal. In our conversations with these reps, it appears they are struggling more, and getting face time is an issue (if you want to learn more about this concept, you can download a free audio version of Tribal Leadership. Just Google the title and one of the search results will tell you where to do this).

What about another triad, one that includes MANA, the manufacturers’ reps and their manufacturers? This triad would focus on developing that relationship, which in turn would facilitate the development of the other triad that includes the customer. MANA would act as the broker, connecting manufacturers’ reps and manufacturers and facilitating that relationship through our educational programs and business counseling.

The current reality is that MANA mem­bers mostly belong for only the first part of the mission: manufacturers’ reps looking for lines to represent and manufacturers looking for manufacturers’ reps to sell their products. Let’s work together to create the triad that leads to a different reality, the one that makes your businesses more successful.

Getting Time With Decision Makers


It has been my experience that if you convince the customer that you are there to help them, you often can get through to the decision-maker. You will be more successful if you know your product, your competition’s product (if any) and any particular selling features your product has over the competition. You should also have a good knowledge of the customer’s product and the best way to apply your product to theirs.

Quite surprisingly, the best way to get to know the decision-maker is when the customer has some type of problem with a product you or the competition … Read the rest

The Quest for Customer Face Time


Meeting face-to-face with prospects is still considered essential to the rep profession. For continued success, you must persist to forge solid customer relationships.

Ask a manufacturers’ rep if it’s a challenge to gain that face-to-face contact with customers that is so necessary, and chances are, you’ll get a response similar to:

  • “Is this a trick question?”
  • “Sure it’s a challenge, and it’s one that gets more dif­ficult every day.”
  • “It all comes down to relationships. If the customer knows you and depends upon you, you’ll get in to see him. Not so much with new customers.”

Those were some of … Read the rest

Reinvent Relationships With Your Customers Online


With the popularity of social networks, the opinions of your loyal fans can be posted for the world to see. Encourage this free “advertising” by connecting with sites like Facebook and designing your own website to be friendly for your current and future customers.

Companies spend millions each year pay­ing agencies and marketers to brand their companies in order to reach more prospects. But how often do these same companies look carefully at the brand that is already built for them by their loyal, current customers? Like it or not, your “fan base” already has built your brand and holds … Read the rest

Handling Objections


Salespeople hear “no” all of the time, but the difference between failure and success is the salesperson’s ability to finesse the prospect closer to a “yes.”

Prospects don’t always say yes! That might be the very first thing you learn as a salesperson. As a matter of fact, “no,” in all of its various forms and expressions, may be the one word that salespeople hear most often. It’s amazing, then, that so few of us are equipped to effectively handle it.

I teach a two-step process: first you finesse the person, then you handle the idea expressed by that person. … Read the rest

Ready to Exit?
Most Owners Are NOT


Drastic change is coming. In mid-decade, 2000-2010, experts started predicting the largest transfer of wealth in history. In the later part of the decade, we started seeing predictions that 50 to 70 percent of small and medium-sized businesses would change hands in the next decade.

Fifty percent! This is a huge number. Why is this happening? It’s a demographic phenomenon. The largest generation in American history is getting older. The first of the baby boomers are now able to collect social security; 10,000 people a day become eligible for Medicare (this will continue for about 20 years); and this is … Read the rest

Maximizing Face Time With Customers


Consultant Nicholas Read offers sensible advice on how to break through barriers to your prospects — and how to make an impact in the limited time you have with them.

Manufacturers expect their independent reps to maximize face time with prospects and customers to ensure a steady flow of orders. At the same time, reps strive to achieve that across-the-desk access to customers, whether they are top company decision-makers or purchasing agents, in order to guarantee their long-term success. Achieving that face-time goal is easier said than done, however.

Whichever decision-making level the rep is calling on, challenges facing the … Read the rest

Customer Service is Not a Memorized Script!


Keeping your employees to a strict script when helping customers can prevent them from actually solving the problem in a logical way. You must allow for personalized service,or your customers will likely not be satisfied.

The other day I had another one of “those experiences” with my cell phone carrier. You know the kind: they do something stupid and then put up brick walls to avoid helping you.

I won’t say which carrier it is, but I’m using an Apple iPhone legitimately. I have been using voice and Internet access since December 2007. Suddenly last Sunday, my In­ternet access was … Read the rest