How Reps Get and Keep Great, Profitable Lines


“He who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well is not as apt to get the dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers.” -- AnonymousThis issue of Agency Sales magazine takes a look at how reps get and keep great, profitable lines.

Reps who get and keep great, profitable lines usually follow the same two-step process:

  • Become the kind of rep that great, profitable lines would want to have represent them.
  • Make themselves easy to find so that the great, profitable line will know to include them when they come to the territory to interview.

How do you become the kind of rep that great, profitable lines would want to have represent them? Customers, channel partners and even your principals say they love to give line referrals to reps who:

  • Take the time to become the “go-to” person for that product segment expert in their territories.
  • Manage their line cards to create value-adding synergies.
  • Organize principal visits to maximize productivity.
  • Focus on communicating accurately (and
  • with brevity).
  • Create plans for mutual success.
  • Maintain the highest ethical standards.
  • Develop expertise on competitors’ products.
  • Grow their mutual sales.

How do you make your company easy to find when a great principal is looking for a rep?

  • Join MANA and become part of MANA’s online RepFinder database.
  • Join any industry-specific rep association where principals you’d like to rep might look for reps.
  • Write an article for Agency Sales magazine. Just write about a topic important to the rep industry in general. (Our editor will happily proofread for grammar and punctuation.)
  • Write an article for other magazines in your industry.
  • Maintain a professional website (and keep it current).
  • Advertise in Agency Sales magazine.
  • Tell your customers and channel partners that you would like to add one strategically chosen principal to your line card.

Somehow, great principals and great reps always seem to find each other eventually, but if you don’t make yourself easy to find it may take longer than it should, and it may not happen at all. When you take charge of that process instead of just waiting for it to happen, you will build the powerful line card your company needs to grow and prosper.

Trawling for a Good Line


photoIn California we have a saying, “The only thing constant about California is change.” Having been a sales rep for a number of years, you can apply that same analogy to the sales representative business. A good sales representative is always on the prowl looking for a good line and working diligently to keep existing principals happy.

One of MANA’s principles is that a sales rep should be a member of a specific industry rep association in addition to MANA. We have been a long-time member of the Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) and in particular the Southern California chapter of … Read the rest

How Reps Find and Attract Top-Notch Manufacturers


A rep once said: “There’s more to getting good lines than just sitting in the boat with your mouth open, hoping a fish will jump in.”

Fish jumpingThe truth of those words was never illustrated better than when Agency Sales went looking for reps who found the magic way to get, attract and keep quality lines. The fact is, there is no magic. All it takes is hard work at best, mixed with being in the right place at the right time, and a little bit of luck.

Consider how a number of independent manufacturers’ representatives responded to questions concerning how … Read the rest

Conducting the Search for the Best Principal


Whether it’s an agency that’s just starting out, one that needs to fill out its line card under pressure or another that is simply looking for the most effective way to grow the business, the question remains: “How do I find the lines that will allow me to prosper?”

fishingThere’s no simple answer to that question — no one size fits all — but it’s been asked often enough that MANA has tried its best to provide answers via Agency Sales magazine over the years.

Among the many considerations that any rep should have when it comes to finding, attracting … Read the rest

Burned Out and Stretched Too Thin: Tips To Re-Engage Your Team


photo of burned-out matchesIt seems there are two types of disgruntled people in our current economy: those who don’t have jobs and those who do. Why? Because for each person who has left an organization, the ones left behind are working harder, feeling overworked and underappreciated, and often being underpaid. Almost everyone in the workplace has been “doing more with less” for a long time. Yet productivity has risen 2.3% annually during these tough times, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This increase is due to fewer employees accomplishing miracles by working more hours and taking on bigger workloads. This is good … Read the rest

Become a Better Leader: Commit to Continuous Learning


In order to excel in your work, in your life, or as a leader, you need to commit to continuous learning. Many leaders know this, but many more are missing the opportunities for powerful learning that could really help them get ahead on their goals.

photoLeaders are encouraged to learn “on the job.” The problem is that many of us don’t. Either because we’re too busy, we forget, we don’t know what we need to learn, or we don’t have the resources we think we need, we end up learning by chance or command. Neither one is very powerful.

Learning Read the rest

Where Do the Commissions Go?


This article is based on a presentation by John Haskell at the MAFSI Business Development Conference earlier this year.

The Manufacturers Agents Association for the Food Service Industry (MAFSI), provided proprietary data and a unique platform of reps and principals to discuss how the rep business really works.

Proprietary Data — But Universal Application

Clearly the specific data presented here only applies to foodservice reps, but the message contained here is universally applicable to all reps. The bottom line is that the rep business is a relatively small business with limited profit potential. Repping is a good way to make … Read the rest

Differentiation Through Enhancing the Value



A recent conversation with a VP of sales highlighted the frustrations of many sales professionals in this weak economy. “How do we gain the attention of customers when they are being flooded with calls from so many sales reps?” he asked.
“How do we differentiate ourselves enough that they want to talk to us and not feel they are getting the same story they hear from every other company?”

These are good questions in a market where customers have smaller budgets and less time available to talk with suppliers. More companies are turning to RFPs as a way to limit … Read the rest

Determining the One Thing



The chairman joined the group after lunch. While everyone was surprised to see him, they all seemed comfortable with him in the meeting.

I invited him to tell everyone why he was present. His comments were brief but very specific about taking their businesses to the “next level.”

After several questions from the group to the chairman, I said, “Before we move on with visualize, enroll and align, are there any concerns that were developed over lunch or from our morning session?”

Russ had been quiet all morning and I could tell that there was something very significant emerging … Read the rest

Selling a Price Increase in a Soft Market


Selling a price increase can be difficult in nearly any type of situation, but trying to sell one in a soft market can be downright brutal. Yet, as unpleasant as it can be, it is often essential.

The problem of selling a price increase in a soft market usually stems from the fact that the salesperson and the customer are coming at the situation from different perspectives. Especially in times like this, it is imperative for the salesperson to understand that regardless of what the market or economy is doing, if a price increase needs to be sold, it needs … Read the rest

Just The Facts


Years ago there was a television police show called Dragnet. Whenever a witness or a suspect would get off track or offer a little too much useless information, the hero, Detective Joe Friday, would say, “Just give me the facts.”

This came to mind recently when a manufacturer was copied on an e-mail that a customer sent to a rep. Evidently, like so many business people today, the customer is used to getting swamped with calls and information from all sorts of salespeople —except one. Here’s how the e-mail reads: “Just wanted to drop you a note to thank you … Read the rest

Top Reasons for Not Moving Your Business to the Cloud in 2012


Author: Your Competitor

info in the "cloud"#10 Reduced Costs
You’ve spent considerable dollars on computers, servers, and software over the years. While it’s true that much of it is out-dated and many new programs won’t operate on your older machines, it still works — sort of. We know that Cloud computing reduces hardware costs and networking management, but why improve on what works — most of the time.

#9 Scalability
The business climate is tough and you can’t worry about potential growth. The Cloud allows companies to scale their busi-ness’ storage needs seamlessly, using and paying for only what they use, but why … Read the rest

Do’s and Don’ts for Sales Reps Engaging Legal Counsel


photoAt some time during the course of your business as an independent sales representative, you are likely to be faced with the necessity of engaging an attorney to represent your interests. It is recommended that you interview at least two to three attorneys prior to retaining counsel. To facilitate this exercise and make it seem somewhat less daunting, there are some basic tenets that anyone conducting such engagement process should follow. Consider the following four exercises.


Do: Sales representatives should search for counsel experienced in the particular matter in hand. MANA is an ideal source for such experienced counsel. … Read the rest

How To Save For Retirement


Savings are very important in retirement planning. This is what you are going to spend during your retirement period. Do you have enough savings to cover you for your retirement? Saving is not easy, especially when you have a lot of expenses to pay, like monthly bills, food and emergencies. These are ways that will help you save enough money for your retirement.

Money jarFirst, calculate how much money you need. Then calculate how much money you have to save every year. Only a few people are doing calculations when it comes to retirement savings. Most people are just guessing how … Read the rest

Should You Cash Out Your Retirement Fund To Pay Off Debts?


Spilled Money JarWhen your debt problems are spiraling out of control, at a certain point of time, you might feel a strong urge to withdraw a portion of your 401k account money to pay off your current credit card debts. The temptations tend to get stronger when you see that you can borrow money from your pension account at an astonishingly lower interest rate. However, deep down inside your sub‑conscious mind, the question might arise, “Is it worth sacrificing your old‑age protection and perhaps the little money that you would like to convey to your children as an inheritance, for credit card … Read the rest