“Can MANA Do More to Help European Principals Find Me?”

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That’s the question a rep asked when I spoke to the Manufacturers’ Agents of Cincinnati (www.maccincinnati.org) in 2011. And it was a fair question to ask. MANA’s RepFinder database gets MANA rep members lots of attention from North American principals, but not nearly as much attention from European principals.

It took two years of research and investigation, but now we have the solution!

The solution presented itself when we asked ourselves a related question: What tools do European principals use when they are recruiting European reps? The answer, overwhelmingly, is the “come into contact” rep-principal online matchmaking database run by the Internationally United Commercial Agents and Brokers (www.IUCAB.com). Europeans use the phrase “Commercial Agents” to refer to manufacturers’ reps. IUCAB is an association of 17 European country-specific rep associations, now 18 with the addition of MANA.

The “come into contact” platform is very impressive. European principals make 100,000 unique visits to the site each year, and drive 600,000 page views annually.

Once we learned that the “come into contact” platform is where European principals go to look for European reps, we asked ourselves: “Wouldn’t that be the logical place for European principals to start their searches for North American reps too?” Absolutely! So MANA has partnered with IUCAB to build a North American rep search into the “come into contact” platform, and www.commercialagents-northamerica.com is now available exclusively for MANA members.

Only MANA rep members are eligible to be listed in the North American “come into contact” platform, so add your company to the database for free today and enjoy these benefits:

  • You will be notified by e-mail whenever a European principal that fits your line card advertises for reps on the “come into contact” platform.
  • Once enough MANA members add their companies to the database, we will launch a searchable database that lets European principals find your rep company to offer you their lines.

Although listing is free to MANA members, it is not automatic. You need to know your MANA Organization ID number (easily available by logging onto www.manaonline.org) and then log onto www.commercialagents-northamerica.com to fill out your member profile. That will make it easy for European principals to find you and for you to receive a notice every time a likely principal advertises for a North American rep just like you.

We know you will enjoy this new benefit of your MANA membership. Please let us know how we can be of further service by sending an e-mail to mana@manaonline.org or calling toll-free at (877) 626-2776.

image of IUCAB members

MANA recently met with European rep associations to discuss opportunities and problems that face reps on both sides of the Atlantic ocean, and also how to assist European manufacturers find MANA reps in the U.S. Reps associations from most European countries participated in this IUCAB conference. Pictured left to right are: Enric Enrech (Spain), Jan Bjornum (Sweden), Jaap van Till (IUCAB), Charles Cohon (USA), Ralf Scholz (Germany), David Johnson (UK), Walter Krammer (Austria), and Olivier Mazoyer (France).

Reps and Manufacturers Working Together

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That’s a very short declarative statement that brings to mind reps and manufacturers skipping through the morass of the business market place enjoying mutual profitability and growth. But underlying that declarative statement is a plethora of details that can get in the way of a successful working relationship.

Let me offer this cautionary tale of a manufacturer that made product marketing decisions that influenced the effectiveness of its rep network, not in a positive way.

This large manufacturer with a well-established rep network had a history of being very rep friendly and offered significant compensation for functions performed by their … Read the rest

Why Does a Rep Need a Business Plan?

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To answer that question, let’s begin with an analogy. For the purposes of our discussion, starting (or even maintaining) a successful rep business is a little like taking a trip. On the face of it, completing the trip ought to be easy, but a couple of things have to be done prior to embarkation. Chief among those preparatory steps is the need to muster supplies and then have a clear destination in mind.

So too is it with a rep business. From day one, the independent manufacturers’ rep ought to have plenty of supplies (funds) and resources coupled with a … Read the rest

MANA’s “Steps to Manufacturers’ Agent Professionalism” Program

MANA defines itself as the association for professional manufacturers’ reps and those who aspire to be professional. We believe the more professionally you operate your business, the more successful you become. The greater your professionalism level, the higher the quality of principals you sign up. The higher their quality, the greater your sales and commissions.

Professionalism can be quantified; it’s more than just a phrase. From MANA’s perspective, these criteria define a professional manufacturers’ agents:

  • Professional manufacturers’ agents create business plans, keep them current and use them to guide them to prosperity.
  • Professional manufacturers’ agents represent quality principals with whom
  • Read the rest

The Truth About PPACA

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is just around the corner and will affect all Americans on January 1, 2014. Independent manufacturers’ reps will be affected in many different ways. One thing is for sure, it’s neither as bad nor as good as you think. Inaccurate information is being distributed everywhere and disguised as fact. How it affects you and your business will depend on factors including age, number of employees and state of residence, to name a few.

It would be wrong to dismiss the Health Care Financing problem we have in this country. Many people cannot … Read the rest

Four Sales Truths to Set You Free

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If you’re going to be successful in sales over the long haul, there are four concepts you need to fully accept and buy into. Missing any one of these will either prevent you from getting off the ground at all, or, if you do get off the ground, missing one of these will sabotage your long‑term success and happiness.

Four Ideas to Take Control of Your Sales Career

  • It’s not about chasing the sale.

Almost everything you chase runs away, and you probably don’t want any part of the things that don’t run away. It’s recently been proven that even … Read the rest

Recruiting Reps? Good Luck….

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This article may seem to be focused on manufacturers, but read on reps.

I’m writing while engaged in a rep-recruiting project for a mid-sized manufacturer. The product, industry, and location are irrelevant. What I have encountered is significant.

Detailed Preparation

The manufacturer has been willing to spend the time and money to organize this search very completely. We recognized that there have to be many positive factors to gain interest. Our products can’t be number 1-2-3 commission payers, but we do pay about 50 percent more than the average line on the rep’s line card. Therefore, commissions from this line … Read the rest

Keeping Young Sales Reps From Crashing and Burning

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Millennials enter the nation’s sales teams as the most parented generation in history. Yet, they do not have the goals or plans to achieve compelling ambitions. Today, 20-million young men delay maturing until their late 20s and are without solid commitments and responsibilities guiding their lives. This leads to “helicopter parented” boys and girls often crash‑landing when they try to take on the demanding responsibilities of monthly sales production.

Many young — and seasoned — sales managers have not been prepared for this new generation of sales reps. As a result, they often see the following three scenarios:

PR and Small Business:
Practical Parallels

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There are numerous preconceived notions about the field of public relations and the everyday life of a PR professional. Many Americans may envision a Hollywood landscape of exclusive events, material excess and prestige, while others visualize an individual furiously hammering phones and e-mail, determined to lock down an interview with an elusive editor. While the idealized pomp and circumstance of the publicity field may have found its way into some people’s schemas, the fact of the matter is that it’s closer to the latter, and shares many of the cornerstones that define any customer-centric small business.

Your company may be … Read the rest

Knocking on Doors Persistently Pays Off

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Whether you are a business person trying to get more sales, a manager trying to find the right hire, an IT employee trying to write new software, or just the Average Joe trying to get the most out of existence; your life will be a lot easier if you understand some basic, yet often disregarded principles in the art of persistence, determination and influence.

Keep in mind that whether you are a salesperson or not, you are always knocking on some kind physical or mental door and your level of success and happiness will depend on how good you are … Read the rest

Expanding a Rep Sales Network

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When a manufacturer let Agency Sales magazine know that it was cutting way back on its direct sales force and expanding its rep network nationwide, a number of reasons (all based on past experience with its limited rep network) were cited as to why this move was going to be fairly painless.

According to the manufacturer, “Over our years of working with reps we’ve learned a number of valuable lessons that indicate we know how to accomplish this move, and we know it’s the right thing to do.” For instance:

Due diligence — “Maybe it’s by learning the hard way, … Read the rest

Must-Do Steps for Success in Social Media

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Things are different today. What was an “endorsement” years ago meant something different than it means today. Meanings change with time. Words are fluid and ebb with the flow of time. We have to adapt and change.

This makes an impact in social media with LinkedIn “endorsements.” If you’re on LinkedIn, you’ve probably seen this. You are asked to “endorse” a person for a particular skill. I’ve heard people object to this, sometimes vehemently. “I barely know Herkimer so how can I “endorse” him?” Why am I asked to “endorse” Esmeralda when I don’t have a strong relationship with her?”… Read the rest

Independent Contractor or Employee?

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It’s a problem that faces small and large agencies alike. A principal wants to control every move the rep makes. Your regional manager starts telling you how many people to hire and sometimes whom to hire. He wants onerous frequent reports about how you spend your time, and he wants more of that time. In short, the company wants to treat you as an employee.

In the United States, most workers are either 1099 independent contractors or W-2 employees. But there is no such thing as a “1099 employee” or a “W-2 contractor.” Misclassification of a sales representative as a … Read the rest

Is Your Financial Advice Coming From a Butcher or a Dietitian?

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The difference between a stockbroker and a financial advisor can be equated to a nice meal today vs. a long-term healthy diet.

Picture in your mind that you’re making a special guest appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. The first question out of Jay’s mouth asks you to explain the difference between you and everyone else in your industry.

Could you do it? What would you say? Could you fire an answer back to Jay without grasping for the right words or “winging it” as most folks would be prone to do?

I’ve gone through this exercise a … Read the rest