HICCUP: Your Way Past Competitors On Facebook


Every company is trying to use Facebook in an attempt to move their business forward and stay connected to their customers in this fast-paced world. Why are some companies more successful at this than others? Content is the key to staying in touch with your customers and keeping them informed. The content, however, must be a rich mix of information, education, humor and fun. Use the HICCUP approach to make your Facebook page more successful:


Humor allows your audience to come away with a warm fuzzy feeling and a friendly attachment to your message. It doesn’t have to be

Read the rest

Executive Peer Group 2.0


One way executives resolve tough business problems and learn about best practices is to establish an unofficial board of directors. This unofficial board of directors usually consists of managers and owners of unrelated and non-competitive businesses so that each member can speak candidly about their businesses without concern that the information could be used by a competitor.

These executive peer boards often meet as a group for a half day each month to discuss their thorniest problems and share successful strategies, and a half day each month individually with the group’s professional facilitator. One MANA member recently shared with me that each member of his eight-person executive peer board pays $7,200 in annual dues and that the benefits to his business have returned his investment many times over.

Those eight members invest a total of $57,600 per year and consider the investment in third-party input on their business operations to be money very well spent. And yet many manufacturers who sell through rep networks miss out on an opportunity to get much more specific advice about their business operations from a group that is already intimately familiar with their businesses because they have not formed a rep council.

Manufacturers should consider a rep council to be “Executive Peer Group 2.0” for a number of reasons:

  • Unlike members of traditional executive peer groups, members of your rep council are not strangers to your business, so your rep council can bypass the prologue where each member explains to the others what their business does and the environment of their industry, and instead get right to work.
  • Each member of your rep council has a direct financial interest in your company’s growth, giving them extra incentive to work with laser focus on your company’s success.
  • In an eight-member executive peer group, each member gets one eighth (12.5%) of the group’s time. In a rep council, your company is the only focus and gets 100% of the group’s time.
  • A six-person rep council is a real bargain compared with the executive networking group. Your typical total cost is around $5,200 for six $400 plane tickets, twelve $150 hotel nights, and $1,000 in meals.

After reading about rep councils in this issue of Agency Sales magazine, you can learn even more about rep councils from MANA’s online resources at www.manaonline.org. We encourage MANA manufacturer members to get the best and most cost-effective advice available by establishing rep councils and to contact MANA for any help needed to launch a productive rep council.

Rep Councils Why You Need Them


This is addressed primarily to you, sales managers and rep-managers who are responsible for a rep network. I hope you have figured out that reps, like your teenage kid, will tell you what you want to hear when you ask a question. Unlike your teenage kids, there is a good reason or perhaps a better reason for reps to tell you what you want to hear. They don’t want to antagonize a good principal and get on your wrong side. Being on the wrong side of a principal can lead to the loss of income or the line. This is

Read the rest

Rep Councils Show They Have Staying Power


What’s a professional sales staff? 

There’s No One Way To Pay Sales Staff! 

Effective Questioning Combats Centuries-Old Selling Problem!

If the subjects covered in the volume of books that come into the offices of Agency Sales magazine on any given day are an indication, it would appear that the way for reps to successfully approach business changes about as often as the weather. For instance, consider these offerings:

Own the Room:
Business Presentations that Persuade, Engage & Get Results

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

Building a Winning Sales Force: Power Strategies for Driving Read the rest

Guidelines for Effective Rep Councils


Without stretching the imagination too much, it’s conceivable that in a discussion of rep councils this Hollywood-crafted quote from Field of Dreams might apply: “Build it and they will come.”

The “they” in this case might very well be other reps, not to mention prospective customers.

For years now, MANA and Agency Sales magazine have been proponents of manufacturer rep councils. The councils have been fodder for discussions at industry gatherings, on MANA discussion boards and in letters to the editor of Agency Sales. Overall, the association philosophy has been that well-put-together rep councils only act as a benefit

Read the rest

Is There a Right Time For Sales Training?

Question: I wanted to do some sales training last year, but it just wasn’t the right time for it. We had too many things on our plate. Looking at our calendar this year, I am coming to the same conclusion. Am I ever going to have time to conduct sales training? Will it ever be the right time?

AnswerGreat question. Probably the number-one reason sales managers don’t provide sales training for their teams is “the timing just isn’t right.”
Why is it that some companies, regardless of the press of the urgent and the demands of the customers,
Read the rest

“I Don’t Have Time” Is A Lie!


 You have heard people say this over and over again, “I don’t have time.” The fact is that we all have the same number of hours in each day and we choose what to do with those hours. We choose whether to stay in bed, get up and go to work, or show up at our exercise class. We choose whether to write a letter to our mothers, take out the trash, clean the garage or paint the house. We choose what kind of work we want to do, where we want to live, who we want to live with,

Read the rest

Rep Paranoia


“We’re not paranoid — We just know they’re out to get us!”

That line always gets a laugh, but unfortunately it is all too true.

The expression, “When in doubt, blame the reps!” is just as true.

How many very successful reps wake up every morning with a nervous burning in the stomach and shaky outlook? An educated guess says well over 50 percent. One rep friend says my number is way low; he says 99 percent. You tell me.

One highly experienced rep said he once woke up at 3 a.m. and started to call his salespeople when he … Read the rest

Don’t Mess Up Marketing


While driving down Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue one Saturday afternoon, it dawned on me that every bus stop shelter along this popular main artery sported advertising signage for Apple’s iPad 2. Assuming that many bus riders were not target customers for a product selling between $500 and nearly $900, the two of us in the car thought that spending advertising dollars at bus stops seemed like a waste of money.


We were wrong. Just get on any type of public transportation and what do you see? Almost everyone is clearly a prospective iPad customer. Thumbs are going at incredible speed,

Read the rest

Networking As Your Sole Marketing Vehicle


As people realize we like them and respect their opinions, they share information about themselves that can be helpful in analyzing whether they can use our products or services.

So says Canadian businessman Michael J. Hughes, who is known as “THE Networking Guru.”  Hughes runs a highly successful Ottawa, Ontario-based consulting business that works with Fortune 500 companies and international associations across North America.

The most interesting thing about Hughes’ business? He built it using networking as his sole marketing vehicle.

Networking is simply one of the most important activities in which professionals engage. As Hughes says, the opportunity to

Read the rest

Some Give and Take on Consultative Selling


The April issue of Agency Sales featured an article on the subject of consultative selling. Overall, the article highlighted positives inherent in this approach to working with customers. That article prompted a letter to the editor that took issue with some of the views in the article. In turn, that letter prompted a response on the subject of consultative selling from former MANA President and CEO Joe Miller. That letter and Miller’s response follow.

Dear Sir,

Interesting set of articles and discussions about so-called consultative selling this month. However I think the terminology is misleading. It should be called

Read the rest

Another Side of the Discussion


A MANA member recently wrote to say that most of the articles on “Consultative Selling” (CS) appearing in Agency Sales magazine were written by those who did not have to make a living selling. He claimed CS is just another phrase for “customer mooching selling.” I know how the writer feels because I, too, sold process equipment where one had to spend months or years consulting with customer engineers prior to the procurement department going out for competitive bid. I was sometimes thrown under the bus by the customer’s purchasing department later and received zip for my efforts when my … Read the rest

What’s the Worth of a Rep Council?

“I came fairly late to the party,” was how one manufacturer described his experience with rep councils. When the manufacturer was contacted for the article on rep councils that appears in this issue of Agency Sales magazine, he readily admitted that when a couple of his reps suggested he create a council, he viewed it as a bit of a threat.

“My view had always been that I signed up reps to provide me with more efficient, productive coverage than I could ever achieve with a direct sales force. Their job was to sell products and communicate market

Read the rest

Independent Contractor or Employee: Are Your Workers Properly Classified?



As state and Federal governments are more strapped for cash and in need of greater tax revenues, they are paying more careful attention to whether employers have properly classified their workers either as independent contractors or as employees. As important as the question is, often there is no simple answer. In fact, the IRS’ training manual on the subject, which it uses to educate its examiners, comprises over 160 pages of materials.

Misclassification can occur for a variety of reasons. Often it is a lack of knowledge of how to properly classify workers. Many times it is intentional

Read the rest

Myths of Financial Planning


Most people who have a 401K or an IRA have little idea of where their money is invested. When you ask them, “Where’s your retirement money?” they reply, “At the bank” or “With my broker.” No wonder so many people are financially unprepared for retirement.

The fact is that if you want to be financially secure in your Golden Years, you must take control of your investments — today! Handing over your money to a broker and hoping someone else will look out for you is a recipe for disaster. Imagine saving and investing for 40+ plus years, only … Read the rest