Do You Have the Right People on the Bus?

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If you have read Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, one trait he found in companies who went from good to great was having “the right people on the bus.” Having the right people on the bus translates to having the right people working for you. For a manufacturers’ rep firm, your outside sales force is a critical part of the organization.

This month, Agency Sales magazine looks at compensation programs. There are many ways to compensate salespeople and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the plan, there is one common rule that must be followed: it must work for both the business owner as well as the salesperson. If it works for one but not the other, it will ultimately fail. It’s not much different from the relationships between manufacturers and manufacturers’ reps. Those have to work for both as well.

Do you work as business partners with principals? Do you have a relationship where there is a high level of trust and respect? Works really well, doesn’t it? Do you have the same type of relationship with your salespeople? The concept should work as well with them. It is interesting to note the similarities in the two levels of relationships. The compensation program offered by principals motivates the manufacturers’ rep business; your compensation plan for employees should do the same.

Make sure you have the right people on your bus, compensate them fairly and treat them in a trustworthy manner, with respect. Works wonders for those who have the trust and respect, maybe it’s time to put the concept to the test in your business if you don’t.

Speaking of the manufacturer-manufacturers’ rep relationship and trust and respect, the MANA educational effort in 2011 will focus on just that. We are planning an integrated program for our members, reps and manufacturers, which will help to develop high trust and respect relationships.

Are We Ready?

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Ready or not, here comes 2011.

The mid-term elections are behind us, and hopefully our nation can move forward with our new leadership structure. Regardless, the economic experts are projecting that 2011 is the year before the year of recovery. You might say, “So, does this mean another year like 2010?” Statistically, probably so, but that is where the similarity ends. For many companies the strategy for 2010 was merely survival. The same can be said for employees. “Yeah, so?” For well over a year there has been very little transitional movement, likely due to fear of the unknown (and … Read the rest

There’s No One Way To Pay Sales Staff

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When it comes to compensating agency salespeople, it would appear there are any number of variables that agency owners weigh as they consider the most effective means to ensure their sales force is focused on the ultimate goal — selling. Those variables include:

  • Positioning the ever-present goal of incenting salespeople to stay aggressive and do what they do best — sell.
  • Years experience in the industry and in the field.
  • Contacts — or lack thereof — in the territory.
  • Even age, family and financial responsibilities.

So, while the ultimate goal — sales success — remains a constant, the varied roads … Read the rest

Myths Business Must Avoid To Survive The Recovery

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At a recent stockholders meeting, the vice president of sales for a global manufacturer reported: “The economy has been tough on our industry. Sales volumes significantly declined and have not nearly returned to pre-recession levels. The company has laid off employees, cut expenses, and, unfortunately, has had to cut price to remain competitive. Competitors have cut price as much as 40 percent on some products. We’re ‘under-water’ on critical components our customers need. But, we have no choice.”

Sound familiar? Could this be your company?

Just as so many businesses during the recent recession, this company is having a tough … Read the rest

What Your Customers Really Want (Hint: It’s Not Just Price!)

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Does your business have what it takes to consistently win in today’s market? How about keeping your customers loyal? If you think the price of your products or services is the reason you are attracting or not attracting and maintaining customers, think again. Today’s customers are savvy and want much more from their relationship with your company than just a low cost.

Customers are looking for relationships that deliver unique value. Yes, they want your products to solve their problems but they also seek a level of satisfaction that goes beyond the intrinsic value of what they paid for. By … Read the rest

What MANA Does Best For Its Members

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It’s relatively easy to sit in an ivory tower and send out products, services or messages to the world. The only problem is that by following that practice there’s no real proof that what you’re producing provides any value to your audience. That’s why this month Agency Sales magazine contacted a number of MANA members to ask them what they use and value the most from their association.

Education heads the list of MANA benefits for Duncan MacDonald, CPMR. MacDonald, Engineered Industrial Products, Cerritos, California, and a past president of PTRA, says,I believe the products and services we … Read the rest

Searching For Reps

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Savvy sales managers already know the most effective ways to build a list of reps to interview for an open sales territory — but now there is another way to search for potential reps based on lessons learned from Amazon.com.

Five traditional techniques to search for potential reps include:

  1. Search MANA members from the manaonline.org database available to all manufacturer members.
  2. Talk to your existing customers in the territory — who would they recommend?
  3. Ask your reps in other territories — who do they know in the vacant territory?
  4. Put “Rep Wanted” signs in your trade show booths.
  5. Build a
  6. Read the rest

The Massive Price of “Negotiaphobia”

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Does the prospect of negotiating make you tense? Do you find yourself avoiding negotiations whenever you can? You may have “negotiaphobia.” Research and experience combine to show there is a good chance the “negotiaphobes” in America have left enough money on the table to pay off our National Debt! Why is it that today so many people are reluctant to engage in negotiations?

The symptoms of this affliction are due to three things:

  • A desire to avoid confrontation.
  • A lack of skill in the negotiation process.
  • A victim-like willingness to simply live with the status quo.

Negotiaphobia is a disease … Read the rest

On Preparation and Presentations

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In my first professional, full-time sales position, the company brought all the new salespeople to a six-week training class in Mill Valley, California. There, we memorized three, four-page, single-spaced sales presentations. Most days consisted of practicing those presentations in role-playing scenarios, having them video recorded, playing them back, and then having the group critique them. We would do it again the next day, only better than the day before. Believe me, when we were finished, we knew how to present those products.

While that kind of meticulous preparation is overkill for many selling situations today, it was based upon a … Read the rest

Clean Up Your Line Card

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Get your act together now before it’s too late.
Your principals are looking.

Your line card reflects your total business strategy. The lines you represent are your company. You are your lines and your lines are you. So what does your line card say? Every rep group is revealed by its line card — even rep firms that don’t publish a line card.

I have had very strong debates with several rep agency owners who did not want to publish a line card. Several were concerned with what their principals would think when they saw all of the lines gathered … Read the rest

Using Facebook As A Business-Building Tool

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Most people know Facebook as a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and to reconnect with long-lost childhood classmates. But there’s another side to Facebook — one that can help your business grow.

According to Facebook’s own compilation of statistics (found in their Press Room), more than 1.5-million local businesses have active pages on Facebook, and more than 20 million people become fans of pages each day. For CEOs and business owners, this means Facebook is definitely a way to spread your company’s message, build community and loyalty among customers, and ultimately increase your company’s bottom … Read the rest

Keep Your Retirement Funds Safe By Avoiding the Stock Market Mistake

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Relying on the stock market as your retirement investment tool of choice is like using Las Vegas as your financial advisor. Unfortunately, many people have retirement portfolios that are heavily invested in mutual funds and other stock market items. Even worse, the average American doesn’t realize how weighted in stocks their retirement portfolios are, and then they wonder why their retirement accounts fluctuate so drastically.

First, here are a few facts about the stock market and its performance over the years. In 1999, Congress was under pressure to invest Social Security funds in the stock market because of the extreme … Read the rest