Let’s face it: things are not the way they used to be, and it’s highly unlikely they will ever go back to being what they were. So what are you going to do about it? Doing what you’ve always done in the past is not going to cut it anymore. Maybe it will keep you from going under, but that’s not what you really want, is it? Wouldn’t you much rather prosper and enjoy making a decent living as a professional outsourced sales company?
To do that, if you haven’t done so already, you are going to have to change. Not just change for the sake of changing, but real transformational change that creates a new and different future. It’s not just about doing things better or simply doing more. It’s about truly being different.
This issue features an article titled “Increased Costs Place More Pressure on Reps” that illustrates this point. There’s no doubt that, during these economic times, principals are asking their manufacturers’ agents to do more than they have in the past. An unintended consequence is that, in some instances, a manufacturers’ agent may decide it’s no longer profitable to represent a principal and terminate the relationship. This may not be the outcome either wanted.
What about creating a different outcome? The reason manufacturers want their reps to do more is that they are cutting back on staff. Why not ask the manufacturer to compensate the rep for the extra work? It would cost them less than retaining staff, and it will keep the relationship in place — a win-win for both parties.
Over the next few months, MANA is going to take a look at ways of helping our members learn how to create new outcomes for the manufacturers’ agents of the future. As I read the stories in Agency Sales about members that are trying and succeeding with different ways of relating with principals, I can’t help but believe strongly that there is a great deal of collective wisdom within the MANA membership — a wisdom we should tap into in order to create these new outcomes.
We don’t profess to know exactly where this will take us, what the professional sales company of the future will look like, or even what will be different. If we did, we’d just tell you and be done with it. We are confident that, through the collective intelligence of the MANA membership, a new vision for the profession will be created, one that will allow all of you to get back to enjoying what you do and to prosper.
Isn’t it ironic that agency operating costs have not decreased proportionate to the decrease in business volume triggered by the current recession? Amazingly, many of the costs associated with running a sales business have dramatically increased, due to increased customer requirements, principal demands and escalating travel costs.
Airfares have increased substantially due to airline reductions in the number of flights, and the schedules offered are so inconvenient as to reduce the amount of time a rep has to spend in front of his customers. Even though I purchased tickets four weeks in advance, a recent flight of less than 1,000 … Read the rest
The trick to keeping current customers and creating new ones is to always over deliver — give them more than they expect. Satisfaction is not enough; loyalty is the key.
Loyalty, more than any other word you can come up with, is the best way to approach selling your potential clients for immediate and long-term results. Here is the first example of loyalty in a known commodity, selling gas at a gas station. Can you use this example in all selling situations?
You own a gas station, and you know that the net profit margin is very slim, so you … Read the rest
Taking the time to build trust and loyalty with your customers could pay off substantially in the long run. Some common courtesies can make the difference between no sale and repeat business.
It’s easy for just about anyone in business — including companies, salespeople and marketers — to fall into a “pattern” when dealing with customers. We all develop shortcuts and “templates” to help simplify our daily routines, which also make it easier to manage the work load. With more to do and less time to do it, a smoother routine is appealing.
While such an approach may help us … Read the rest
When a manufacturer demands more from their reps, reps must evaluate whether the extra work is worth the business relationship.
What’s a rep to do when their financially pressured manufacturers push just as much marketing/sales responsibilities onto their shoulders? Sure, the rep can grin and bear it, all the while reserving their right to complain about what they perceive as unfair treatment. That approach doesn’t augur well for a sound relationship in the future, however.
More effective perhaps are the routes taken by some reps to incorporate everything from better communications to having the business acumen to evaluate whether representing … Read the rest
The days of relying on hard drives to keep your data safe are over; this smart option not only protects you from hardware malfunction, but it allows you to access your info from anywhere.
As a mobile professional, salesperson, entrepreneur or over-achiever, you have to be able to move quickly today. General Patton would have considered it silly to depend on a big computer fortress for your data. That means having the right kind of technology established to support you and help you serve clients. A big trend now is having your software loaded “in the cloud” vs. on the … Read the rest
Active listening will show customers that you truly care about their business concerns, improving your chances for future sales.
Susan has been doing well in her sales career for many years. She understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to provide excellent customer service. Yet, she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague, Michael, is, when she puts much more time and sweat into her work than Michael seems to. She wonders what is missing in her approach.
The key difference between their approaches is the fact that Michael has … Read the rest
How to Get Critical Feedback from an Independent Rep
The major challenge in today’s business environment is how to create sustainable, profit inertia. When interacting with your sales force, you are faced with the obvious results oriented approach: Bring in profitable sales and measure your success versus your expectations.
But how do you get salespeople to report critical field data and help your business succeed?
How do you build a sustainable interactive communication culture that focuses on the bottom line and provides the critical data necessary to grow your business?
Does your direct sales force provide up to the minute, … Read the rest
The economy has forced manufacturers to cut costs, but that doesn’t mean reps have to suffer. Use this situation to make yourself more valuable to your principals, potentially earning you more money in the long run.
From the first day any of us spent in high school physics, we can remember the teacher telling us that for every action there is a reaction. Those words were never as true as they are today regarding relations between manufacturers and their independent reps.
The subject of actions and reactions now rears its head as a direct result of the following scenario: the … Read the rest
Whatever your delivery style, you must be able to project your competence while genuinely connecting with your audience.
Jimmy Carter had one style. Reagan had another. I’m not talking about politics here (we’re getting enough of that already in this mid-term election year). I’m talking about their marketing style.
Yes, they both were marketers when they were in the White House serving as President. Politicians market wholesale (via mass media, large gatherings, etc.) and retail (one-on-one and in small groups). You and I market in a similar fashion to both large and small groups. With the Internet, most any small … Read the rest