It’s Not Just Business.
It’s Personal!

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MANA members are quick to compliment our association on the quality of our magazine, the free legal advice they receive from rep-savvy attorneys, our monthly newsletter, the ways that MANA helps them secure new lines, and the many other benefits of MANA membership. This issue of Agency Sales magazine focuses on those benefits.

Many of the benefits MANA members enjoy today have evolved over the years; for example, the evolution from a printed MANA directory to our online searchable directory. But one of the benefits has changed dramatically: MANA’s role in making information about the rep system of selling available to reps, principals, and the general public.

In the past, information about the rep industry was very sparse, so the MANA-created content was one of the very few resources for rep-related information. Today the situation is very different. Anyone with a computer and an opinion about reps can create blogs, newsletters, and websites about our industry.

This changed the landscape dramatically. Instead of searching for one of the few available sources of information about reps, now someone who wants to learn about reps faces overwhelming amounts of information. And MANA has adapted to become not only a creator of content, but also a curator of the vast amount of data available online, which we distill and bring to MANA members each month in Agency Sales magazine and our iToolbox newsletter.

But in speaking with reps, I have discovered that one of the things they value most highly about MANA is not easily described on the benefits of membership menu we share with prospective and current members: It’s the opportunity to express and demonstrate their pride in the companies and relationships they have built and the industry in which they work.

MANA members, whether they are reps or principals, are almost universally entrepreneurs. And as entrepreneurs they have justifiable pride in the businesses and relationships they have created. Belonging to an association of like-minded individuals provides our members the opportunity to interact with fellow entrepreneurs and be members of something greater than themselves. MANA membership, members tell me, is about more than just enjoying the aggregated products and services MANA offers, it is also a way to say: “I am proud of my company and of relationships I have built, and I want to share that pride with my peers, colleagues and customers.”

When I Ran for Election to the MANA Board of Directors

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When I ran for election to the MANA Board of Directors, I gave these four key reasons for doing so:

  • Education
  • Networking
  • Legislation
  • Support and give-back to the rep industry

I’m now serving my second three-year term on the MANA Board, and I still believe those reasons listed are valid. MANA continues to put quality educational opportunities on the table via Agency Sales magazine, iToolbox newsletter, webinars, teleforums and special reports.

Networking with other reps and manufacturers is a key component in our business. MANA makes a lot of effort to help reps and manufacturers connect. In addition, MANA is … Read the rest

MANA Members Explain What They Value

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It’s inevitable that a MANA member will carefully weigh the value of membership in their association. As they perform that exercise, the answers to several common questions influence their opinions of association membership and participation.

  • Is membership worth the annual dues?
  • What’s MANA’s value add?
  • Can I succeed (as well) without being a member?
  • What are my fellow reps doing? What are they thinking?

Only the individual rep can honestly answer those and other questions, but if the experiences of long-time MANA members are any measure of the true value of association membership, prospective members would do well to consider … Read the rest

MANA Provides Solutions To Common Rep Problems

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Not a day goes by that MANA staff members are not engaged in conversations with reps and principals who are faced with unique and not-so-unique questions and problems.

One of the true benefits of MANA membership remains the fact that when a member — or prospective member — has a problem, they can visit the association website (MANAonline.org) or contact association headquarters and immediately be put in touch with someone (i.e., a live human being) who more than likely can point them in the right direction.

In the course of these daily interactions, several common themes are sounded. As an … Read the rest

Roundup of MANA Products and Services

Critical information that MANA-member independent manufacturers’ representatives need in order to run their businesses successfully is there for the taking. All it requires is membership in the premier association for reps. A number of the products and services that are available to all members have already been mentioned in this issue of Agency Sales magazine — but there’s still more.

Consider for a moment the variety of products and services that members have at their fingertips:

  • Business Telephone Counseling

Members can discuss rep-related business issues with MANA staff simply by calling the association’s toll-free number (877-626-2776), and asking for Jerry … Read the rest

Get Your Sales On Track By Getting Back To Basics

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Vince Lombardi, the great Green Bay Packers coach, once said that football comes down to only two things: Blocking on offense and tackling on defense, and those are the basics his teams spent 80 percent of their time on in practice.

Red Auerbach, who coached the NBA’s Boston Celtics to eight consecutive championships, is known for having players practice shots over and over again from very short distances and even while standing right under the basket.

Lombardi, Auerbach, and all other great coaches have always taught the importance of focusing on the basics in order to be successful. In this … Read the rest

Ways to Fire Up Your Business that Work

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In high school we learned Shakespeare’s indelible words, “What’s past is prologue.” But that’s where we stopped, missing the key part of the Bard’s advice: “Whereof what’s past is prologue; what to come, in your and my discharge.” It’s a clear message: don’t depend on what’s happened so far; it’s all in your hands now.

If that’s true, then don’t waste time on gimmicks that sound great but fizzle faster than fireworks in San Diego Bay on the Fourth of July, or putting the blame on “changing business conditions.” Unload all the “prologue” stuff and make the moves that make … Read the rest

Unselling What You Just Sold

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I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me.

The presentation with the customer was going well. I had prepared extensively. In fact, I had not just spent more time than normal, I had stayed up nearly all night to make sure I had every element covered perfectly in my presentation. For me, this sales call was going to be a huge success. My boss had told me this was going to be a difficult quarter, and that’s all I needed to hear to motivate me to close this particular sale.

The customer I was meeting with was tough. … Read the rest

Results vs. Relationships — Finding Your Balance on the Leadership Seesaw

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As a child, riding a seesaw was fun, wasn’t it? Well, except when you didn’t have equal weight on both sides — then it was just out of balance and someone got stuck in mid-air. That bears the question — is your leadership out of balance? Most likely it is because statistically, more than 85 percent of the population tilts toward being strong at either results or relationships and weak at the other.

What’s Wrong With Being Out of Balance?

The idea of balancing results and relationships is nothing new, but if we assume that character is the foundation of … Read the rest

How to Stand Out Without Lowering Your Price

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Is what you do for a living perceived by potential customers as being a mere commodity; more or less the same as others in your profession? When that happens, customers revert to the easiest differentiator — price. The outlook gets worse as you realize that somewhere in the global economy there is likely someone offering similar products or services for a cheaper price. And with the Internet it’s easier for your customers to find them. What’s most frustrating is when you know your products and services are indeed different, but customers don’t seem to get that and put you in … Read the rest

Manufacturer Appreciates Rep Approach

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When a manufacturer was recently tasked with finding reps for two of his territories, he followed the normal path of researching and finding prospective reps, interviewing them, and ultimately signing on with the agencies he thought were best. At the end of the process, he reports that his decisions worked out very well and he couldn’t be more pleased with the ultimate choices. What took him slightly aback, however, was something both agencies did upon signing their contracts. “I’ve got to admit that it’s been a couple of years since we had to replace two of our reps, so maybe … Read the rest

Stay Abreast of Technological Trends

“Technology trends ebb and flow: What’s hot today is yesterday’s news tomorrow.”

That’s just some of the timely technology advice that can be found in the recently published second edition of Proactive Selling, by William “Skip” Miller.

According to Miller, some of the most relevant technological trends that salespeople ought to keep an eye on are:

  • Mobility
  • Video
  • Cloud
  • Lead Generation
  • Contact management
  • Deal management
  • Apps

The author advises that salespeople should not be wary of making an investment in software or hardware. “You’re not losing your money or your time, even if the technology eventually becomes obsolete. I … Read the rest

Focus on Business Results — Not Just Activities — with Social Media

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Activities don’t matter by themselves. Results matter.

Losers like to engage in feel-good activities. They think that they are “doing something” and that is the final goal. They (erroneously) think that just by checking e-mail, sending a few Twitter Tweets, posting a message or two or saying “Hey!” to some friends on LinkedIn, they are getting results.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Social Media — just like everything else in life — what matters is not the activity, or even the effort expended. What matters always is getting the results you need.

This is a principle that … Read the rest

Minnesota’s Termination of Sales Representative Act

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In 1990, Minnesota enacted the Minnesota Termination of Sales Representative Act as codified in Minn. Stat. §325E.37 (hereinafter “MTSRA”). When it applies, the MTSRA provides a process of how and when a sales representative may be terminated by a principal.

Under the MTSRA, a “sales representative” means a person who contracts with a principal to solicit wholesale orders and is compensated, in whole or in part, by commission. Sales representative does not include a person who:

  • is an employee of the principal;
  • places orders or purchases for the person’s own account for resale;
  • holds the goods on a consignment basis
  • Read the rest

Preserve Your Family’s Financial Legacy: Proper Estate Planning is the Key

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What did Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, John Wayne, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana, and Anna Nicole Smith all have in common? They all had lousy wills. Because of this, their deaths left not just emotional turmoil for their friends and families, but also financial uncertainty, legal battles, and expensive, long-term, court-ordered supervision of the estates, draining the assets away from the people they wanted to benefit. In other words, their financial legacy was one of frustration and questions.

No matter what your net worth, whether you have assets of millions or thousands, you need to have a basic … Read the rest