The Importance of Agency Growth

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This issue of Agency Sales explores the importance of agency growth to the rep-principal relationship. As you read this month’s issue, I encourage you to think about agency growth as more than just increasing your agency’s head count, and also to think about how you will communicate your agency’s growth to your principals.

Communicating your value to principals is easiest for obvious kinds of growth, like head count or gross sales, but more challenging when the agency grows in more subtle ways. Announcing added head count can be as simple as: “With the addition of June Smith to our sales team, we now have five salespeople, up from three just a year ago, an investment we’ve made in order to grow our mutual business.”

An increase in gross sales dollars is most often communicated from the principal to the rep, but it is still an opportunity for your agency to communicate its growth: “Thanks for letting us know that our sales increased 18.5 percent last year. Your regional manager Tim did a great job of helping us plan the 206 sales calls we made on your behalf last year, and in getting us fully trained to capitalize on those opportunities.”

But when your agency grows in more subtle ways, extra attention to communicating those enhancements is required. Consider the owner of an agency that sells chemicals who discovers that his or her customers now require more technical savvy than the agency’s existing sales force can provide. Replacing three non-technical salespeople with three chemical engineers does not increase head count, but it definitely needs to be announced with pride: “Last year our agency launched an initiative to enhance the service we provide to our mutual customers. With our most recent hire, Tom Jackson, our sales team is now 100 percent degreed chemical engineers.”

What has your agency done to grow its rep/principal relationships this year? Did you invest in test equipment, a demo van, a training room, or new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software? Be sure to communicate those investments to your principals so they can fully appreciate your commitment to the growth of your agency and to your rep-principal relationships.

Is Offshore Representation For You?

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As a rep in today’s global economically driven market — it would be a mistake not to at least explore the possibility of off-shore representation. The observations contained in this editorial are slanted toward overseas sourcing versus over-the-borders of North America. While there are several approaches a rep can take, there are three that I have found most common:

  • Working with an existing domestic principal who has established foreign ties.
  • Working with a reputable trading company.
  • Working directly with an off-shore source.

We currently have several lines where the principal has aligned themselves through either ownership or strategic alliances

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Planning is the Fuel For Agency Growth

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Independent reps had better have a firm sense of who and what they are — not to mention a view of where they want to go — before planning substantial growth for themselves and their agencies.

That’s the opinion of reps who have successfully traveled the growth path, and their words provide valuable guidance for others planning for the future.

For the purposes of this discussion on growth, Karl Grabowski, president J & K Sales Associates, Manchester, New Hampshire, divides reps who want to grow into three distinct segments:

• “Some agencies grow simply because they want to increase their

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Evaluating a Potential Foreign Principal

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Not too long ago, the usual scenario for a start-up rep firm and/or for that matter established ones, whether it is one-person or a firm with multiple sales personnel, was to gravitate towards an industry familiar to them as a result of having worked in or with that industry in some fashion. And, most often, the initial principals were almost always domestic companies.

Today, however, most reps have been exposed to an opportunity to represent a foreign principal and many have undertaken this representation. The differences between repping a domestic principal and a foreign principal can be dramatic and often … Read the rest

Creating Organizational Alignment

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We ended the article in the April issue of Agency Sales magazine with the question, “How do we activate the energy field and create the alignment within any company or organization that will serve customers in a very different way?”

Let’s start with the answer so that as you read, the explanation will not be perceived as judgmental, incriminating or confrontational to the typical Industrial Age mind-set.

The answer: “Stop the war and wage peace.”

The shift from the mechanistic Industrial Age business model to the biological Human Potential business model requires a bifurcated change in focus within the organization.

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Managing Interruptions And Your Time

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Time gets lost. People kill time. Time flies. It gets wasted. 

Time weighs heavy on our hands. 

We spend time. Time passes. It drags on or it hurries by. 

Those behind bars are said to be doing time. 

Sometimes, we have no time left; we’re out of time.

According to the great American inventor, Thomas Edison, “Time is really the only capital any human being has, and the one thing he can’t afford to waste.”

The perception of not having enough time for the things we must do or, just as importantly, the things we want to do, is a … Read the rest

How Not To Work Evenings and Weekends

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Jane Schulte is really quite remarkable.

She’s an entrepreneur who runs two successful businesses. She grew her company, PRISM Title, from eight to 60 employees in only 18 months. She has published four books, two of which are award winning. She speaks to a variety of audiences about business success. She has been featured in Jeffrey Gitomer’s “Sales Caffeine” newsletter and many other media outlets. On top of all this, she’s an accomplished artist whose works have been commissioned.

That’s certainly an impressive bio.  But do you want to know what’s most remarkable about Jane Schulte?

She doesn’t work

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Social Media Safety In The Workplace

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There are many stories out there already which any manager will share when complaining about their employees. There is the one with the salesman who scans Twitter for hours. And then there is the employee who harasses a co‑worker several cubicles down from him by hijacking her Facebook account and posting harassing comments. And, of course, there is the ubiquitous case of the worker that slams the employer on LinkedIn and is fired, thus exacting a morale-busting toll on the employee, the workplace, and the organization.

From workplace distraction to conduit for stalking, harassment and other criminal activity, the rise

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Put Your Marketing to the Test And See How You’re Doing

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All marketers are liars. And since we’re all marketers of one thing or another, we’re all liars. To give proper credit, Seth Godin, the provocative business pundit, started it with his book, All Marketers Are Liars. And, as the syllogism makes incredibly clear, he was 100 percent on the mark.

This isn’t an indictment of P&G, BofA, Chrysler, Goldman Sacks, McDonalds or any other organization, big or small. There are probably more liars on LinkedIn, Facebook and any of the other social media, where tens of millions of self-marketers have a feast day making claims that wouldn’t stand up

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The Best Information Comes From Short Questions

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There’s no better way to improve the quality of information you receive from a potential customer than by asking short questions. We all can recall far too many times when we’ve sat across the table from a customer we’re trying to help — and we know we can help, if they would just provide us information about their needs and goals.

The problem is that no matter what question we ask, we get the same response: a big fat “I don’t know” (or something along that line). Then, almost without thinking, we put on our super salesperson cape and start

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New Technologies To Make Personal and Professional Lives Easier

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Here are a few quick technologies I’ve been using for about a month which can help you in your business.

xShot for Stability, Better Pictures and Video 

One of the best features of the iPhone 4 is the video camera and camcorder. The quality is good, and it is easy to carry with you. However, with video it is often best to bring a tripod or other device to make a more stable video.

A company called xshot has an iPhone 4 case that gives you the ability to shoot jitter-free video. It consists of an easily-assembled case with two

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How To Beat A Non-Compete Agreement: Five questions that might free you from a restrictive trade agreement

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In a nation that rewards competitiveness, non-compete agreements sound like an anomaly. While employers tend to favor them, anyone who has ever been asked to sign one will probably complain that they hinder the free and open competition that has made our economy prosper for 200-plus years.

Philosophical issues aside, what do you do if you ever have to deal with a non-compete? How might you negotiate a more favorable deal for yourself, prevail in court against one or, better yet, avoid the restrictions in the first place?

Dozens of state and federal court decisions, fortunately, suggest some practical

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The Subject is Taxing

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By now everyone has to be familiar with the new tax law passed in December 2010. For the most part, the tax law of 2010 was brought forward through 2011 and 2012. This article covers some things that may be less familiar.

We’ll start with the auto mileage rate for people not keeping track of actual auto expenses but who do keep track of business mileage. The rate for 2011 is 51 cents per business mile. It’s up one cent from 2010. This will be unwelcome news to most of us who have seen gas zoom up the last

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