This month Agency Sales magazine focuses on legal issues. Like others, there is a vast difference between the true professionals in the business and those reps working towards that level. The true professionals know that agreements between manufacturers’ reps and their principals must work for both parties. Otherwise they ultimately do not work for either. What If the principal offers an agreement that does not meet this criterion? The professional will push back and negotiate an agreement that does. This significantly increases the probability the relationship will succeed. By pushing back, the manufacturers’ rep gains respect in the eyes of the principal.
Compare this to the novice manufacturers’ rep. When the prospective principal sends the agreement, the thing they usually do is sign and return it. They may not even read it. Please, don’t be intimidated. While the dollar impact at the time of signing may be insignificant, years later when it is, significant sums will be at stake. Don’t be telling yourself then, “If I could only do this over again…”
We also hear from members that they just want a really simple agreement, a one pager. When you initiate the relationship with the other person, there may be a very high level of trust between the two of you. What happens when that other person leaves the firm and is replaced by someone with vastly different ideas and attitudes about manufacturers’ reps? What if they decide to terminate the agreement? What if in the meantime, you have built up a significant level of business for this principal? How you worded the agreement way back when will have a significant impact on your residual compensation. Will that simple one pager really adequately cover all the bases?
We also hear from members they don’t believe the agreement is worth the paper it’s printed on. Not true, we’ve seen a number of members who over the years have won judgments valued at hundreds of thousand dollars because they had well-written agreements. They’ve also adequately protected themselves when product liability issues arise.
Which brings me to my last point. MANA has 28 really knowledgeable and experienced attorneys as members. They are here to help both manufacturers and manufacturers’ reps create mutually beneficial agreements. These agreements accurately reflect in legal language, the terms negotiated by both parties. Our professional members ask for legal help when they review agreements. Why not follow their lead and do the same? A great way to become more professional and gain more respect.
The last thing we want to think about are legal issues — until we have a problem! Then what?
Managing a successful agency today means more than just being a great salesperson. We must be well-rounded business men and women that deal with many issues on a daily basis. One of the most important is managing risk, or to put it a better way, limiting risk.
Legal issues, particularly the ones that are negative, can conjure up unfavorable thoughts, which may lead to procrastination. Hoping that if we wait long enough, maybe the problem will go away is, I … Read the rest
MANA and attorneys who work closely with the association achieved a notable court victory earlier this year that strengthened the rep’s position in the face of termination by a principal.
Last year in a case before the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, the Court issued an opinion that the “Waiver of law prohibited” provision in the Georgia Commission Protection Act was invalid, and that Massachusetts law prevailed in a lawsuit of a Georgia-based representative against a Massachusetts-based manufacturer. The manufacturers’ representative was represented by MANA Attorneys Kramer & Kramer, LLP, who alerted the association to the potentially devastating effect of … Read the rest
Ameron International produces fabricated steel products. Its sales rep in Western New York, West Empire Associates, learned that the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority, operator of the famed Peace Bridge (connecting the United States and Canada), was considering re-coating the entire bridge. West Empire quickly arranged a meeting between Ameron and the Authority.
West Empire then worked the phones for a few months with the Authority and Ameron, but did not otherwise assist in the preparation of Ameron’s proposal for the Peace Bridge project. Shortly after participating in the initial testing of Ameron’s bridge coating, Ameron terminated West … Read the rest
Selling in a broad swath of industries is arguably more difficult today than at any time in the last half century. No matter what the optimists may say, competition for customers is horrendous. Ask any salesperson. As one said recently, “I have never seen anything like it.”
Along with everyone else, those in sales constantly look for signs of hope from the latest economic reports — whether it’s relevant or not. Like everyone else, salespeople are faced with doing their job whatever the economic conditions.
Hoping for a better tomorrow is the right attitude, but it takes more than that … Read the rest
Since the dawn of mankind we have been buying and selling “stuff,” and over the centuries a predictable pattern has developed between buyers and sellers. The buyer-seller dynamic can spell “commission catastrophe” for the sales professional who lacks the artful skill of effective questioning.
The Old Way — The Buyer Stalls
Essentially the old way involves the purchaser following a reliable pattern when choosing to come off his or her hard-earned cash to buy something and the unskilled seller who can easily fall victim to this insidious game.
The dynamic begins with buyer gaining as much information about the product … Read the rest
While the following article, which appeared in the July 2010 issue of Electrical Wholesaling magazine, is based on research gathered from the electrical industry, its findings are applicable to independent representatives in other industries.
Key Survival Skills
Many reps are more comfortable dealing in the present rather than the future. They spend most of their time reacting to what is happening in the moment and do not see the future implications of their actions. They are stuck in a “peddler” mindset and are sales driven, not market driven. I believe these reps will wither and die. The reps who survive … Read the rest
Effective Information Management is the Key
Kathy is the office manager for a large corporation. The great news is that the company is growing and Kathy is looking for employees to handle all the new clients. The bad news is that she has no office space for these new employees to work in. The truth is, the office and storage areas are full of filing cabinets and the desks are covered in stacks of paper. The worst part is, Kathy and her staff don’t even know what all that information is. It’s no surprise that Kathy can’t find space for … Read the rest
When your rep firm is visible, good things happen
What are the “magic words” in the rep business? Magic happens when a sales manager asks a good customer, “Who are the good reps who call on you?” These magic words should result in your firm being named, but how often are you short listed? If your name is not on the tip of your customer’s tongues, you are doing something wrong.
The most important thing you can be doing constantly for your firm is making sure that you get a smell of every opportunity of any size in your territory. … Read the rest
Would you like to sell to 40 prospects at the same time? Well, step up to the microphone. Service organizations such as Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary, Lion’s or Optimist Clubs are always looking for a speaker to address their group for free. It’s a win-win situation. They get a speaker at no charge. You have a terrific promotional tool and more importantly are perceived as an expert in your field. Does that sound like a good head start over your competition?
Tips for Your Talk
We’ve all heard that the fear of death is often surpassed by the fear of public … Read the rest
Marketing In Today’s Economy Back To The Basics
A marketer recently wrote, “In the age of Facebook and Twitter the winners will be those who know how to work the phone.” In today’s soft economy that’s a perfect segue to the perennial question that is more important than ever. How do I maximize my marketing and advertising dollars, and how do I close the sale?
The advance men for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have for years exercised an extraordinary talent. And it isn’t their media buying expertise; though in that regard they are savvy. Nor is it … Read the rest
Creating a professional online presence is a must for businesses these days. Many business professionals are wondering how they can be online without sacrificing personal privacy or appearing less than business or Internet savvy. The following strategies can help you feel more comfortable and make sure you build your online presence in a professional manner that will help get you clients, customers and business.
1. Use a professional photo of yourself and use it consistently on all of your online profiles.
Using the same photo helps potential clients and the media recognize you. Using cropped or unprofessional photos can really … Read the rest
Proven Techniques To Skyrocket Your Performance, Even During Uncertain Times
Why is it that people with the most sales talent are often not the most successful? What gets in their way? How can some salespeople with less talent over‑achieve and reach much more sales success than their more talented colleagues? Are there specific mental skills that can lead anyone toward championship levels of sales performance? What separates the mindset of a champion from that of the also-rans?
This article addresses these key questions. Traditional sales training programs ignore the biggest obstacles to success. Instead, they focus on specific sales and … Read the rest