What If There Were Only One Fax Machine in the World?

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image of a fax machine

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Well, if there were only one fax machine in the world, even if it were beautifully designed, it wouldn’t be very useful, because there wouldn’t be anyone for you to send faxes to or receive faxes from.

What does that have to do with this issue of Agency Sales magazine? I promise to circle back and make that connection at the end of my editorial.

In February, Agency Sales focused on rep professionalism. Now, two months later, we are focusing on “ideal reps from the principal’s perspective.” Isn’t this the just the same topic, slightly rephrased?

OK, I will concede there is a lot of overlap. Professional reps and the ideal reps from the principal’s perspective have a lot in common, like business plans, succession plans, and a commitment to continuing education.

But it is possible to be a professional rep without being an ideal rep. Because an ideal rep will always include one element that could prevent principals from hiring a rep that is merely professional but not ideal — a network.

Consider a highly professional rep firm in Chicago that has identified a new niche that no other rep covers. And because that rep is breaking new ground, it is the only rep company in North America serving that niche.

Will that highly professional rep firm thrive? Probably not.

Why? Imagine that rep’s sales pitch to prospective principals: “My Chicago-based rep firm could do a spectacular job for your company. But if you hire us you are going to need direct salespeople in every other territory, because we are the only firm in North America serving this niche and we only serve Chicagoland. So you are going to have to set up an entire rep-support infrastructure just to hire us, and then keep on doing what you have been doing everywhere else.”

That’s why professionalism isn’t enough, it’s also crucial to be part of a network of reps that can supply outsourced sales force services across North America. It’s the network that makes sales force outsourcing scalable and makes it possible for a principal to serve every territory with reps instead of direct salespeople.

A rep firm in Chicago with no counterparts in any other territories is like that single fax machine. Until it’s connected to a network, it’s hard to make a case for its value proposition. So the ideal rep firm will dedicate itself not only to professionalism, but also to contributing to the community of rep firms and their associations.

The alternative: Be that single fax machine not connected to any network. And if you decide to try it, let us know how that works out for you.

The Ideal Rep From a Principal’s Point of View

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You can ask most 20-something-year-old males, “What is your ideal car?” The answer that you would most likely hear is a Ferrari or a car of similar ilk. Ask a sales manager or a principal or manufacturer, “What is an ideal rep?” He or she will most likely answer “one that has sales growth year after year.” Both visions are ideal for the short term but lack depth and success in the future.

So the definition of an ideal rep from the principal’s point of view is not as simplistic as one might hope. It depends on the principal’s goals, … Read the rest

Characteristics of the “Professional” Rep

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Last month Agency Sales focused on what it takes for a principal to be considered a professional. This month, the tables are turned and the spotlight is on the rep.

Communication — that’s the starting point and quite frankly it’s the end point for Doug Biggs when he’s asked to describe what it takes to be a “professional” rep. Biggs, vice president sales & marketing for Gilman USA, maintains that it’s the independent rep who exhibits a willingness to proactively communicate with his principal that allows him to be placed in that professional category.

Gilman USA, Grafton, Wisconsin, designs customized … Read the rest

Lionel Diaz, Former MANA President, Dies at 90

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Lionel Diaz, 90, President Emeritus of MANA, died in January. A former independent manufacturers’ rep heading up his own agency for 29 years, Diaz served as President and CEO of MANA from 1995 to 1998.

He was actively involved in MANA’s operations from 1971, serving as Director, Chairman of the Board, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, President/CEO and finally as President Emeritus. He retired from MANA in 1998.

He is survived by two sons, Christian and Ramon, and two grandchildren.

Diaz was a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York. He served in both the … Read the rest

MANA Seminar Examines the Manufacturer-Rep Relationship

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Based on the feedback from participants, MANA’s Manufacturers’ Seminar in Chicago last fall was the place to be — that is, for manufacturers truly looking to hit the ground running as they implement plans to partner with independent manufacturers’ reps.

Seminar leaders Hank Bergson and Kris Hefley promise more of the same in May as they look to educate a fresh crop of manufacturers that are taking their first steps in outsourcing their sales efforts or want to enhance their results from an existing rep sales force.

Scheduled for May 2-3, at the American Management Association Executive Conference Center in … Read the rest

A Prescription For Success — How To Act Like A Salesperson

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Selling is the world’s most personal profession — but not in the way you might think. In fact, many salespeople are downright superstitious. For some, it’s the way they shake hands, others are fanatical about punctuality, wearing certain jewelry or using a favorite pen.

The list is almost endless. It may be the only time of day to call for an appointment, interpreting a customer’s body language, or what to order when having lunch with a prospect. Success is all about following a salesperson’s personal rules. Break the rules and something goes wrong.

While all such personal preferences are interesting … Read the rest

Controlling Chemical Brain Freezes For Better Sales

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Kristy had finally worked her way to the front of the store after standing in line for 45 minutes with about 30 other people with their holiday packages at one of the mail (shipping) stores in a mall. The two women working behind the counter were frantically trying to take care of customers, as the line grew increasingly longer with each passing minute. Close enough to the counter now, Kristy was able to overhear one of the women behind the counter utter to herself “Oh no, the computer screen blacked out.” One of the two computers had crashed, as the

Read the rest

Being Memorable at Networking Events

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There is no point going anywhere if people don’t remember you were there! Networking is an important part of building your business and developing good social contacts. However, if you go to business events and no one remembers you afterward, what was the point in attending? Such contacts only work if you make yourself memorable. Happily, this doesn’t mean you have to be bizarrely dressed or loud and boisterous.

My professional life is spent helping professionals speak more effectively to large and small groups. It never ceases to amaze me how many talented and well-educated people attend networking events, yet … Read the rest

How to Keep a Positive Attitude in Challenging Times

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You’ve probably heard the ancient story of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant. One touches the tail and describes the elephant as a snake. Another stumbles against the side and describes the elephant as a wall. Yet the other touches the leg and describes the elephant as a tall tree.

The point? Perhaps the issue in front of you is not of as much significance as the angle you are experiencing it from. Learning to position yourself at an advantageous angle can make the difference of whether you experience the best or the worst of your current … Read the rest

How To Have Your Best Year Ever

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By the time you read this we’re a few months into 2013, and a good portion of the year is already gone. How’s it going so far? How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions, if you made any? Are you on track to achieve your personal and professional goals this year? If you’re not on track, these ideas will get you on track and caught up. If you are on track, these ideas can help you achieve your goals even faster and go even further.

Keys to a Highly Successful 2013

Payments on Top of Commission?

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When it comes to learning what’s on the minds of reps, there are few better places for manufacturers to visit than MANA’s LinkedIn discussion group. It’s there that manufacturers and reps alike will introduce subjects that concern them. Then they sit back and wait for responses, and responses are just what they get. For instance, here’s what happened recently when a manufacturer wanted to know what others thought about having to pay reps over and above their normal commission.

A manufacturer began the discussion with the following: “I wanted to comment about rep compensation needing to change in order to … Read the rest

Relationship Marketing: It’s About Engagement, Not Broadcasting

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If there is one thing that ticks me off more than anything with social media it is the people who are abusing it. I’m sure you’ve seen the type.

They take their “stuff,” whatever that is, in the form of text, video, audio or whatever blather they have, and they simply broadcast to a list of as many people as they can buy. When the message is sent, they don’t care about the needs of those receiving the message. They only want to get their ideas sent to as many people as possible.

Ugh!

This “broadcast approach” demonstrates such a … Read the rest

Top Apps for 2013

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While we’re still fairly early in the New Year, we’re ready to tackle the biggest projects, climb the tallest mountains, and make the biggest deals. Now all we need are the right tools to help us get the job done.

To make this task easier on you, we’ve compiled a list of several innovative apps that are bound to be big hits in 2013.

Sign In Blue

This year, did you make a resolution to manage your time more wisely? Then you’ll want to check out Sign In Blue, which allows users to electronically transmit signatures. No more waiting for … Read the rest

Why Do You Need a Financial Power of Attorney?

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Almost every day life brings you things that you need in order for you to enjoy happy and meaningful living. But what if there are some instances that happen and for some reason you lose your ability to think and to make the right decisions for yourself? What will you do?

Well, if you become incapable to decide for yourself, you probably need a “Power of Attorney.” And what does a power of attorney mean? It is a power of authority under seal, an instrument in legal writing appointing or authorizing one to act as the agent or attorney in … Read the rest

Taking the Home Office Deduction

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced a simplified option for taking a deduction for the costs associated with the office if you have a business office in your home. If you have a business office in your home, you know that the process for preparing the form to claim a deduction has been a painful one.

The new optional deduction, capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet, should reduce your paperwork and recordkeeping burden.

Currently, you have to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations … Read the rest