Taking Professionalism To A Higher Level


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Manufacturers’ reps come in all sizes and shapes. At one end of the spectrum you find truly professional business people. At the other end you find salespeople who pay their own expenses. Major reasons for belonging to MANA are the resources we provide to help members move up the professionalism scale. Some members take this path, others stay put.

Higher-level professionalism brings many benefits: higher quality principals, higher profits, higher value to the agency when you sell it. With rational reasons like these, why do some want to stay put? What blocks them from moving up the professionalism ladder?

Their emotional side blocks the change. Maybe they fear the challenge; maybe they lack the self-confidence. The risks overcome the rewards. Maybe they want to be perfect and that leads to the three Ps: perfection, procrastination and finally paralysis. They feel alone.

Being a MANA member provides support to help overcome these emotional obstacles, not the resources such as workshops, webinars, teleforums and publications that provide the how-to, but others. Being a MANA member means you are not alone. You belong to a community that helps you get out of the rut. Remember, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the length of the hole.

How, you ask? Call the MANA office, where real live friendly people still answer the phones, and ask for me. Join the MANA group on LinkedIn. We recently created small groups that meet monthly by phone — join one. We can connect you with a local mentor. With their support, start moving up the professionalism ladder. Let the rewards overcome the risks.

On page 9, MANA announces Charles Cohon as the new MANA President and CEO. I compliment and thank the search committee, Dave Ice, Ed Reese, John Roba and Richard Sinclair, on a thorough and outstanding job. MANA members owe a debt of gratitude to these volunteer members who spent countless hours on a search. All of us at the MANA office look forward to working and supporting Charley as he leads MANA. The search committee could not have made a better selection. Thank you!

Training Hones Competitive Edge


If one allows, training can be a constant in our business. In fact the business of agency sales is a non-stop learning environment. We have opportunities for learning from our principals, our customers, our colleagues and our associations like MANA. As with everything, though, we can do better. Together we’ll figure out how to do just that; how to improve, how to grow and ultimately, how to prosper. If one is open to the opportunities surrounding him or her, the business of agency sales can offer a non-stop learning environment resulting in an improved professional image.

Principals are often … Read the rest

Outcomes-Based Training


For most organizations, training — if they do it at all — is a task. Do it, check it off, done. After being crammed in a room for three days, salespeople start bouncing off the walls. Then the following Monday, the fire drills start, the training manuals go on the shelf, and everything returns to the crisis-driven state it was in before the training. But the training was implemented for a reason — some performance parameter was not measuring up. One week after the training, management looks at the lousy numbers and says, “Hey, the training didn’t work!” Even if

Read the rest

One Man’s View of Rep Training


When considering the question concerning what training is best for independent manufacturers’ representatives, the big answer, offered from 10,000 ft., isn’t just specific to reps, but rather applicable to any organization that has salespeople as critical to their primary go‑to‑market initiative.

After any organization puts together their yearly business plans they should:

• Consider the specific skills their sales professionals need in order to meet and exceed those specific plans.

• Then, they should take a careful look at their people resources to determine what skills they already have, need to do better, or need as new.

• Next, … Read the rest

Technology’s Impact on Training


It’s impossible to avoid the impact of technology when taking a look at how reps are trained today vs. in the past. There’s no denying the Internet, webinars, CDs and other remote learning tools have changed how reps keep up to speed with their professions. The fact remains, however, that nothing replaces learning the value of personal relationships when it comes to getting the job done better.

That’s the view of Dave Knapp, president of Interface Incorporated, Fairfax, Virginia. Founded more than 40 years ago, Interface is a multi-person rep firm whose goal is to satisfy the federal government’s demand … Read the rest

Training: Another Way To Invest In An Agency’s Future


When Weinacht & Associates, Collinsville, Illinois, sent out the press release that accompanies this article, they positioned themselves firmly in the crosshairs for the discussion on the impact of change that Agency Sales has been engaged in since the beginning of the year.

The 30-year-old rep firm has not only grown over the years, but it has distinguished itself as a successful and thriving business in its territory.

As he considers how Weinacht & Associates has dealt with the trend of change, specifically in the area of training, Kevin Weinacht, CPMR, notes that discussion really can’t take place unless you … Read the rest

The Ultimate Survival Skill for the New Economy


We’re living in incredibly turbulent times. In spite of newspaper headlines proclaiming growing employment and a slowly growing economy, many business people admit to a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and confusion about their businesses.

The well-spring of this uncertainty lies in one of the characteristics of the newly-arrived information age — business people are being buffeted by an increasingly rapid rate of change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge available to mankind was doubling about every 500 years. In 1990, it was doubling about every two years. Today, according to some, the rate of change is doubling … Read the rest

Common Afflictions of Sales Teams


I’ve been a part of many sales teams in my career, and over and over I’ve noticed common afflictions that affect them, each of which reduces morale and sales performance. They can be found to some degree in almost every organization. Smart management teams are aware of these afflictions and work to avoid their potentially destructive impact. Any one occurrence of these problems will not necessarily harm the sales effort, but if allowed to progress to extremes, or if multiple conditions exist at once, they can be extremely harmful.

Wasting Sales Representatives’ Time

One of the prime afflictions of sales … Read the rest

Don’t Leave Good Business on the Table: Five Strategies To Negotiate Win-Win Deals


“Your price is too high.”
“Can you match the price your competitor is offering?”
“We need to have that service included in your price.”

How do your salespeople respond when they hear these kinds of statements from customers? Everyone wants to make the sale in this challenging economy, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to cut the margin, reduce the price, or give away “value adds” the customer really should pay for. Of course, everyone is being squeezed. Customers are pressured to control costs and limit spending, and salespeople feel they are forced to compete on price. It seems … Read the rest

Working With Family Members: It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business


If you’ve ever been in business with a family member, you know there are several advantages, but even the most-dedicated, hard-working family member can experience or create tension, stress and conflict in the company. Can you really separate your family history, emotions and knowledge you have of a person at a deeper level and also have a great working relationship?

Families have successfully worked together, but there are reasons why it’s worked. What are the qualities that facilitate successful family working relationships? What are the common issues in practices that exist within companies that employ family? If you are in … Read the rest

Your Customer’s Price Investment Ratio


Have you ever really considered how price affects your customer with regard to their perceived benefit?  Too often, we use a simplistic approach to determining a price — figure the cost to produce a product or service, tack on some arbitrary percentage, and call it good, right?

Price, though, is consequential in ways we may not initially consider.  The price a person pays for something goes a long way in determining the perceived benefit they expect to get from it.  The perceived benefit cuts two ways. First, the expectation of service goes up the more a person pays for … Read the rest

Changing With The Changing Times

Historically, if the role of the rep could ever be described as one where “he makes calls and follows up,” changing times have dictated that’s no longer the case, and one manufacturer especially is well aware that he has to change just as the rep does.

Keeping apace with the conversation on “change” that’s taken place in the pages of Agency Sales magazine since the beginning of the year, this manufacturer continues: “None of us — rep, manufacturer or customer — has the time we used to have for what I’d refer to as ‘social’ sales calls. Technology has … Read the rest

Connecting With Customers Via Blog


The push for companies to blog is a recent trend in business; it is a wonderful way to connect with customers. If you’re wondering how and where to start, it’s always a good idea to remember to start small until you get the hang of it (once you’ve decided blogging is for you).

Blogs can be geared to any interest imaginable. They can target specific interests and hobbies, become a voice to the customer, or be designed for the benefit of other businesses. One my favorite small business blogs is SmallBizSurvival.com, where Becky McCray doses out words of wisdom … Read the rest

Don’t Hire a Swordsman When You Need a Gunslinger


If you are sued or if you are thinking about suing someone, you should know more than you have learned from watching Law and Order or TheGood Wife. First off, it will probably take three years not sixty minutes. Second, every law school graduate is not a trial lawyer. We call trial lawyers litigators, gunslingers or sometimes egomaniacs. The lawyer who helped you buy your house, wrote your will, or did your taxes has probably only seen the inside of a courtroom on a tour of city hall.

Whether you’re suing or being sued, you should have … Read the rest

The Annuity Payout Option


All employer plans are required to offer you an annuity payout in the form of monthly income. These payments will continue for the rest of your life (in the case of your 401(k), you can surrender the balance to an insurance company that will guarantee payments for life; the amount of monthly payment will depend on the balance in the account and your age). When considering early retirement, the annuity payouts will be smaller, because you have a longer life expectancy. The payments are taxed as ordinary income and don’t qualify for any special tax treatment for federal income … Read the rest

Board of Directors News

Congratulations Newly Elected Directors!

Three MANA District Director positions were up for election for the three-year term beginning May 1, 2011. The districts are:

  • District 3 — AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC
  • District 4 — IN, KY, OH, TN
  • District 8 — AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WA, WY

Nominations to run for District Director were sought last year and the election ballots were sent in early February. The ballots have been received and we are pleased to announce that the following members have been reelected and newly elected to serve on the MANA Board of Directors … Read the rest