Reaching New Markets With Reps

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The phrasing changes from month to month, but a consistent message you’ll find in every issue of Agency Sales magazine is: “Manufacturers hire reps because reps have deep, intimate knowledge of the customers in their territories.”

That’s true, but reps don’t just have deep, intimate knowledge of the customers they serve, they also have deep, intimate knowledge of the markets they serve.

So it’s only natural for a manufacturer who wants to break into a new market and reach a whole new set of customers to seek out a rep who is a subject-matter expert in that market.

Sometimes a manufacturer will find that the rep company currently serving that manufacturer’s customers in a territory is (or can become) exactly the subject-matter expert needed to break into that new market. But in other cases the rep may decide that breaking into that new market would be a distraction from his or her core competencies and encourage the manufacturer to find another rep to be its market expert in that territory.

In this issue of Agency Sales magazine we look at how manufacturers use reps to successfully break into new markets, which sometimes involves a mutually-agreed-upon arrangement where two reps overlap geographically but each has their own exclusive market segment.

Can two reps coexist in the same geographic territory, separated only by their assigned market segments? With meticulous attention to communication and planning, the answer is yes, says MANA past Chairman of the Board Mack Sorrells of Metal Working Solutions in Van, Texas. Mack joined Eriez Manufacturing Company’s rep network to sell separation technology products almost a decade ago. Mack reports tremendous success with Eriez and no significant conflicts with other Eriez reps who work the same territory, but serve different markets.

The only cautionary note for manufacturers who might want to use reps to break into a new market is to think about how the rep will fund his or her efforts to launch this new initiative. Even if your products are well established in other markets, a rep who is breaking into a new market for your company is pioneering your line in that new market, and it may be in your best interest to offer that rep market development funds to help offset the cost of that pioneering effort.

Manufacturers breaking into new markets always face significant challenges and obstacles, and the best way to navigate those challenges and obstacles is by partnering with a rep who is a skilled territory and market subject-matter expert, because it is that subject-matter expertise that will make the difference between disaster and success.

Developing New Markets and New Customers Using Professional Field Sales Reps

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Should your business enter new markets?

The answer may be “Yes,” but pause to reflect before making that jump. If you are considering expansion, even targeting new territories or new customers, the odds are you’ve enjoyed some level of success in your current market. You know your market, know your customers, and know how to serve the market and those customers. On the one hand, entering a new market is less comfortable because you must prove yourself to a new customer base. On the other hand, you know your current products and services, administrative and distribution systems are in place, … Read the rest

Manufacturers’ View of Reps

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This issue of Agency Sales magazine is the second in an ongoing series that explores the subject of MANA serving as the association for professional manufacturers’ agents and high-quality principals that work with each other as partners in profits. In last month’s issue, the importance of independent manufacturers’ reps creating and sharing their business plans with their principals was detailed. This month, we discuss how reps and manufacturers define, locate and establish effective business partnerships with true “professionals.”

This first of two articles describes that subject from the manufacturer’s point of view and is followed by a similar article in … Read the rest

MANA is the Association for Manufacturers Who Require the Utmost Professionalism From Their Agent Partners

As a manufacturer that outsources the sales function to independent manufacturers’ agents, you want to create relationships with the most professional manufacturers’ agents willing to work with you. The more professional the manufacturers’ agent, the more they sell for you.

On the other side of the relationship, manufacturers’ agents want to partner with the highest-quality manufacturers willing to work with them.

The goal is to create long-term and mutually profitable relationships, a “Partners in Profits” relationship.

How Do Manufacturers Achieve “High Quality” Status With Manufacturers’ Agents?

There’s a lot more to high quality than just the products and services they … Read the rest

Reps’ View of Manufacturers

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In the first article in this section of Agency Sales, manufacturers offered their views of what constitutes a “professional” independent manufacturers’ rep. In this article, the tables are turned as two reps turn their eyes on manufacturers.

With 22 years as an independent manufacturers’ rep under his belt — and closing in on 50 years in business for his agency — Joey Lane is quite comfortable speaking about his view of what it takes to be a quality manufacturer. He’s at ease with the subject because he maintains he’s got nothing but real pros on his line card.

Lane, … 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.

This issue of Agency Sales magazine examines professional manufacturers’ agents representing quality principals with whom they work as trusted partners in profits.

MANA members and associates may access the various articles and other presentations that address the importance of reps and manufacturers working with business … Read the rest

To Stay Professionally Competitive Invest in Cutting‑Edge Skills

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Today’s job market is changing at an incredibly fast pace. To stay competitive, to safeguard your career, and to ensure you can always find new work in the future, you need to be continually updating your knowledge and skills.

Of course, for many people, going back to school to further their education is the last thing they want to do. Some struggle with the structure, some don’t perceive any relevance to school, and some have not mastered the basic writing and quantitative skills needed to get to the more pragmatic topics. In other words, many people have excess “baggage” when … Read the rest

Improve Your Speaking Skills: Maximizing the Speaking Club Experience

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Bob, a junior executive, wants to be better positioned for promotion. He and his peers present status updates regularly to management. While better organized and more knowledgeable about his assignments than his peers, his fear of speaking makes him nervous and unable to recall facts and data he knows cold when talking to colleagues one-on-one.

He has joined a speaking club to improve his skills, based on a suggestion by his supportive colleague, Jane, who delivers presentations confidently. The people who listen to her can tell she knows the details of her projects. However, after being in the club for … Read the rest

How to Get Into That Big Account

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It is possible to land almost any account: all that’s needed is the right plan, consistency, and persistence. Of course, before you can land that big account, you have to get in the door. This article will tell you how to get an introduction to the key person or people at that major account. Next month I’ll tell you how to land that big account and keep it for life.

Note: Even if you sell to individuals vs. businesses, you will still pick up some ideas here. After all, even at the largest companies on the planet, you’re dealing with … Read the rest

Your Team-Building Exercises May Not Be  Creating a Team

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Team leaders have a perennial dilemma: how can we educate, engage and develop our group in a substantial way that helps the team become better?

“Team‑building” is often seen as the fun add-on to a meeting devoted to science, sales figures and quarterly goals. These can include a ropes course, golf, a trip to the desert, horseback riding, softball, a cooking school, and the like. Were these experiences useful toward the goal? If the goal is fun, distraction or an open afternoon, then these experiences create shared memories and are often a welcome opportunity.

But, the goal is rarely just … Read the rest

Lower the Anxiety Associated With Change

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It is likely there have been situations when you have asked yourself, “Why are there times when I experience anxiety relative to a change I am facing in my life?”

To answer this question, let’s start by thinking of your replies to the following few simple questions:

  • What do you think has the potential of creating more anxiety: the change associated with taking a bus to work in the morning or the change associated with having an operation to repair your knee?
  • What do you think has the potential of creating more anxiety: the change associated with rearranging a room
  • Read the rest

Appreciative Inquiry: How to Find and Leverage What’s Right in Your Workplace

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Ever had more work than you had time? Ever felt that with the ever-decreasing budgets, and no ability to hire new help that the demands of your organization exceed its capabilities?

How to solve the common challenges that organizations face is of course to logically focus on the things that aren’t working in your organization, and try to figure out how to fix them. The conventional problem‑solving tools of deductive reasoning have continued to produce similar outcomes from one business to the next. What we focus on however, we often create more of — meaning that if we are only … Read the rest

Call Reports and the Rep

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An ever-present subject for discussion among principals and their reps is that of call reports. In general, independent reps exhibit a dislike for them and tend to persuade their principals that they aren’t needed. Any number of manufacturers interviewed by Agency Sales over the years have expressed the view that in lieu of such reports, they truly appreciate the efforts of proactive reps who voluntarily keep them up to date with what’s happening in the territory.

Adding more fodder for the discussion is Brian Myers, Myers & Associates, LLC, Madrid, Iowa, who offers his take on the subject that should … Read the rest

Cutting Edge Technologies All Meeting Planners Must Embrace

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When you ask most meeting planners what kind of technology they typically use at their events, they’ll reply with things like “using a big screen for main stage events” or “PowerPoint projectors for every breakout session.” Those things are important, but they are just the tip of the iceberg for meeting planner technology.

Unfortunately, many meeting planners (aside from those who specialize in the tech industry) shy away from technology. They may be familiar with some of the new technologies available, but they don’t use them consistently and end up missing out on important opportunities. If you don’t embrace and … Read the rest

The Importance of International Arbitrations in General Commercial Transactions

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I am a traditional trial lawyer based in the United States and primarily engaged in general business litigation. A sub-specialty of our firm is sales representative law. Many of our cases involve contract interpretation and performance issues, including customer/supplier warranty disputes. I was in practice a long time before international law and the international arbitration of disputes became important to our clientele. With globalization in the ever-shrinking world, however, our clients’ dealings with companies from around the world have increased rapidly and, as would be logical, disputes with these companies became as statistically common as with domestic companies.

As part … Read the rest

The Subject is Taxing

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Notes on Auto and Medical Expenses, and Foreign Income

The depreciation on new cars purchased in 2013 has been announced as:

Regular Cars

Minivan & SUVs under 6000 lbs.

2013

$11,160

$11,360

2014

5,100

5,400

2015

3,050

3,250

2016 & thereafter

1,875

1,975

The 2013 mileage allowance for business use is 56.5 cents per mile in lieu of depreciation, insurance, gas, tires, licenses and all repairs, and those using it must never have taken actual expenses on that auto in prior years.The above includes a “bonus” depreciation of $8,000 in the first year which is not available for “pre-owned” cars. … Read the rest

PREtirement: Top 10 Tips

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Are you ready to retire? If not, here are the top 10 tips to PREpare you for retirement.

Maybe you’re earning millions today; or maybe not. No matter how much you are earning today, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you have done with your earnings. It’s important to have a basic estate plan in place. This will ensure your family’s security even after your death.

An estate plan includes several elements. You’ll make crucial decisions such as naming both a Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney, creating a living will and possibly creating Trusts. Don’t … Read the rest