It started with a phone call from one of MANA’s manufacturer members. He had an excellent point. His concern? Most of the articles in Agency Sales magazine that describe rep-principal relationships, he said, seem to focus on bad relationship topics like:
- Rep lands big account, gets terminated so principal won’t have to pay commissions.
- Principal cuts commissions or takes house accounts.
- Rep sues for unpaid commission.
After all, if bad relationships outnumbered good relationships the way that articles about bad relationships outnumbered articles about good relationships, the rep industry would be in terrible trouble. But the rep industry is thriving. So the manufacturer felt like those negative articles set a negative tone and was unfair to MANA’s overwhelmingly professional and fair-minded principal members.
After several staff meetings, some soul-searching, and a good, long, hard look in the mirror, we had to agree that we need to vigorously strive to maintain balance in Agency Sales magazine’s articles. Of course, we still need to share with reps those cautionary tales of potential pitfalls in their principal relationships, but MANA also needs to recognize and affirm that rep-principal relationships are overwhelmingly professional and cordial. For evidence that those relationships can last for decades and transform into lifelong friendships we need look no further than longtime MANA principal member Eriez Manufacturing, where six of its agencies have represented Eriez for at least 50 years and all six are MANA members.
Then came the question: How do we best signal MANA’s recognition that rep-principal relationships are overwhelmingly professional, cordial, and mutually profitable? That question led to more meetings, more soul searching, and another good, long, hard look in the mirror, and we finally reached our answer. MANA has a new tagline: Manufacturers and Agents: Professional Partners in Profits. And we’ve commissioned a new, enhanced logo that incorporates that new tagline.
So, with prompting from the principal member who asked us to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror, we find ourselves circling back to one of MANA’s fundamental principles for MANA’s existence: To provide tools and educational resources that help reps and principals achieve mutually profitable, long-term relationships. Yes, we acknowledge that relationships will sometimes go bad and that we need to help all of our rep and principal members prepare for those situations, but we also need to acknowledge that most relationships are professional, cordial, and sometimes even spectacular. And, going forward, we have to be sure that MANA is at least as much about creating success as it is about avoiding failure.