I’m hit! I’m hit! Eject! Eject! Eject!

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image of fighter pilot ejecting from plane

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Need a disaster plan? Prepare like a fighter pilot!

Whether it’s a result of enemy fire or engine failure, in an emergency fighter pilots’ lives depend on the survival kit that military experts pack with the essentials a pilot needs to stay alive until help arrives.What are the takeaways from a fighter pilot’s survival kit that you can apply to your disaster plan?It shouldn’t require maintenance. Survival kits include canned water because no one expects a pilot to remember to refresh a canteen before every mission. Survival gear and disaster plans that require maintenance risk letting you down if you forget to maintain them. Computer backups based on removable media are only as good as your discipline in putting in fresh media. An automatic system that backs up onto a remote Internet server removes the element of human discipline.Too heavy a kit may leave you looking for excuses not to carry it “just this one time.” Your office may have five computers, but if your plan includes a complete set of redundant computers to use in a disaster, the cost may keep you from executing your plan. One backup computer stored in a remote location may be enough to keep a skeleton crew working through a disaster until you can buy more replacements and won’t be such a burden that you don’t do anything at all.It includes a survival manual. When disaster strikes, you will have too much on your mind to recall every detail of the great plan you had in your head but never wrote down. No plan is complete until you document it.They have an expiration date. Eventually, even the canned water becomes undrinkable and needs to be replaced. Look at your plan annually to consider changes in your business that would require you to change your disaster plan.

Most of them never get used. One reason that survival kits are lightweight is that the temptation to leave the “I probably won’t need it” survival kit behind increases in direct proportion to its weight. It’s human nature: The greater the burden, the more likely an activity with an uncertain payoff will be postponed. So design your disaster plan to be good enough to keep you alive until help arrives without being such a burden that you end up postponing it to death.

For more about pilots’ survival kits, visit http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1400. For more about reps’ survival kits, read carefully through this issue of Agency Sales magazine.

“The New Good ’ol Days”

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2012 is here, and getting back to “the way things used to be” is just around the corner, right? I doubt it — and that is a good thing. Those of us still in business have successfully weaved through the challenges of our own cruel reality experience that could be called Survivor — Repdom Island. In our version no one has immunity, alliances are crucial but unreliable, and the opposing “tribe” is not necessarily visible. Sounds rough, and it is. But as fellow MANA board member Greg Bruno has passionately communicated, being an independent manufacturers’ representative is still an occupation … Read the rest

As Economy Lags Optimism Comes To The Rescue

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If some reps have been better able than others to weather lengthy economic storms, it’s probably as a result of their positive outlook. At least that’s the view of Hank Bergson, former president of NEMRA. According to Bergson, president, Henry Bergson Assoc., LLC, Katonah, New York, “I’ve found that basically reps are optimistic by nature, and that’s been a great help to them in these trying times.”

“Probably owing to the fact they knew business would eventually pick up,” he continues, “reps did what they had to do a couple of years ago in order to get them through. By … Read the rest

Strategies for Retaining Your Most Profitable Accounts

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Sellers as well as buyers are taking stock of priorities as the economy continues to show weakness across most industries. As a result, most sales organizations are pursuing new business — which often means taking advantage of competitors’ complacency or mistakes in providing service to customers. In the face of relentless competitive pressure, sales leaders are looking for smart answers to an urgent question: How can we protect our customer base from erosion as competition intensifies?

While there are a variety of potential answers to this question, most fail to get to the crux of the problem: a lack of

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Adapt or Die: Which Way is Your Agency Headed

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What follows is a sequel to an article that appeared in Agency Sales in 2004.

The first MANA seminar I attended was in 1986 in Anaheim, California. There were about 200 independent reps who paid $180 for an all-day program. If you charged reps $180 for an all-day program today, you will not get 200 attendees. Needless to say, the rep world needs to adapt or die, because the status quo operating mode does not bode well for survival — let alone success.

When I worked with three-time Indy 500 Winner Bobby Unser on the book Winners Are Driven, … Read the rest

Disasters — Always Prepare for the Worst

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No sooner does one disaster (natural or man‑made) recede from our memories than we find another right in front of us. Consider for a moment:

  • The local, national and international disruption caused by the events of 9/11.
  • The destruction and social upheaval that followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the surrounding areas.
  • The immediate and long-term recreational, environmental and business damage caused to the Gulf Coast as a result of the BP oil spill.
  • The billions of dollars of damage caused by the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, last May.
  • The damage caused to the Northeast in October by a
  • Read the rest

Signs Your Relationship is Failing

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A new relationship — whether personal or professional — is a lot like buying a new car. Driving it off the lot is pure bliss. As you look around, you can scarcely take it all in. Everything smells, sounds, and looks terrific. You coast through weeks or months — maybe even years — of happy driving before you’re aware of anything that needs fixing. And like a car, when a relationship breaks down, it’s overwhelming; you’re left stuck on the side of the road wondering what went wrong.

A trained eye knows when a car is in trouble. From … Read the rest

Passion is Required for a Winning Culture

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Passion is one of those words that many people love to use, but very rarely do they actually demonstrate it themselves. It easily can be the reason for almost any person or organization’s success. Passion fuels everything good about a person or an organization, so why is it so hard to find people that are passionate about their jobs or the product or service they sell?

In most organizations, every leader can name a few of their great employees or bosses that have immense passion and will state 100% of the time they wish that all of their employees would … Read the rest

Listening to the Inner Voice

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“Amazing! I tried it all week last week. At first I thought I had lost my mind. With the radio and cell phone off there was an eerie silence. Initially, I was beating on myself to go faster. There were two people pushing the accelerator pedal. One said go faster — the other said steady at ‘3.’ It wasn’t until the third day that I really knew who would be driving. I called them “ME” and “me.” There was this voice in “ME” that said I would be punished if I was late. But “me” said it will be okay

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Big Marketing Power in a Little Word

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Your English teacher isn’t going to like this. Don’t get me wrong; the grammar and composition you learned in high school English class are critically important, but those rules don’t necessarily apply all the time.

Allow me to explain.

Your old English teacher would have preferred that you write, “By carefully employing certain words, a professional gains a powerful advantage when selling his or her products or when trying to persuade others to accept his or her ideas.”

Here’s a slightly different version: “By carefully employing certain words, you gain a powerful advantage when selling your products or when trying … Read the rest

Manufacturer Gets an Earful When He Charges for Sales Lit

When a manufacturer notified its rep network that starting immediately, reps would be charged for the sales literature they use when selling that principal’s products, it sparked a spirited discussion among reps that deserves some exposure in this column. While the written agreement between principal and rep allowed the manufacturer to do this, the decision was hardly met with any widespread approval among reps.

Admittedly, this isn’t a move that’s entirely new. Other manufacturers have taken this step in the past with various levels of success and a mixed bag of reactions from their reps. Speaking of a “mix bag

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In Business, We’re All Still Human

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Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other tools are changing the way business is done. This is not because of their technology.

Yes, the technology of these and other tools is pretty amazing. The ability to connect with, say, all your friends who like baseball in Centerville on Thursdays provides a sense of community. Yes, we’ve had that for centuries, but now we have a way to do it faster, easier and in a cost-effective way. Even better, we can have that community world-wide at very low or no cost.

Courtney Boyd Meyers recently wrote an article for the … Read the rest

Pet Product Rep Cleans Up After Manufacturer’s Mess, and Court Won’t Stop Barking About It

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In a sales rep contract drafted without attorneys and recently described by an appellate court as “doggone messy,” a pet supply manufacturer and its independent sales representative agreed the rep could be terminated “for cause” only under certain circumstances. As is so often the case, once the rep, Profit Pet, grew sales and the relationship was prospering, the principal, Dogswell, sought to tighten the contract terms and exercise more control. Not surprisingly, Profit Pet resisted, leading to its termination.

When Dogswell then attempted to classify the termination as “for cause,” Profit Pet sued to recover its commissions, and won

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Protecting Family Assets From Devastating Nursing Home Costs

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It’s the conversation people don’t have until they have to, but by then, it’s too late.

The fact is that in 2010, more than 7,000 people turned 65 years old or older every day, a figure that is predicted to rise in 2011. Further, an AARP survey revealed that only 4 out of 10 of those people feel they will be financially secure for their golden years.

For many, that lack of financial stability will transform from being a worry to becoming a crisis if they discover they’ll need any kind of assisted living. That’s why Gabriel Heiser, an attorney … Read the rest