Cloud Sales Force

image files in a cloud

© Aleksander Bedrin |

MANA recently moved its files from our own central server into the cloud. So now we can avoid all kinds of costs that were associated with owning our own server:

  • Server hardware maintenance.
  • Server software maintenance.
  • Electricity to run the server.
  • Physical security for the server.
  • Firewall security for the server.
  • Air conditioning systems to keep the server cool.
  • Redundant data backups.

Now we only pay for storage as we consume it. So if we need only a little storage, the costs are very low. If we start to consume more storage we’ll pay more, but the only reason we’ll need more storage is if we have more members (and more member income). So our costs only go up when our income goes up, and if our income is going up then we can pay for those added costs out of our added income.

And when we need even more storage, will there be an ample storage for us to tap into? Absolutely! There is a whole network with all kinds of capacity ready whenever we need it, available on a flexible, pay-as-you go basis.

“Our costs only go up when our income goes up, and if our income is going up then we can pay for those added costs out of our added profits.” Is this starting to sound like any other industry you know? Let me give you a hint.

A manufacturer recently moved from a captive direct sales force to manufacturers’ representatives. So now the manufacturer doesn’t pay for:

  • Fixed salespersons’ salaries.
  • Health insurance premiums.
  • Worker’s Compensation insurance.
  • Automobile mileage reimbursement.
  • Computer equipment.
  • Travel and entertainment expenses.
  • Human Resources costs.

Right now, that manufacturer finds that he can fill his manufacturing capacity with a representative network that includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. But if his manufacturing capacity increases, he knows that he can always add to his network with representatives from neighboring states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Minnesota. And he can continue to recruit representatives from the rest of North America, or around the globe.

Manufacturers’ representatives began offering outsourced salesforce services through flexible, pay-as-you go networks at a time when “the cloud” meant only stratus, cirrus, or cumulus. Between the cost savings and the expertise and experience representatives bring to their relationships with their manufacturer partners, it’s easy to see why forward-thinking manufacturers worldwide continue to choose the flexible, pay-as-you go outsourced system of selling over inflexible, pay-regardless-of-results captive direct sales forces.

Look to MANA for Training and Continuous Improvement


As a manufacturers’ representative we are reminded that it is a multi‑faceted livelihood; a business extending into other fields including sales, marketing, management, engineering, economics, technology, healthcare, human resources, law, finance, accounting, networking and more.

Most manufacturers’ representatives arrived in business having excelled in one or more of these fields. They have quickly learned, however, that there is a need to excel to some extent in all of these fields — because they all come into play in the running of their business. Our profession requires that we become “Masters” in the selling process. Our business requires that we become … Read the rest

MANA Seminar Provides Commitment to Training


When considering the subjects of educating and training an outsourced sales team (i.e., independent manufacturers’ representatives) the easiest — but certainly not the best — course to follow is to sit back and do nothing. That’s hardly the path Hank Bergson urges manufacturers to follow as they take stock of the needs of the agents they work with.

Instead Bergson, the former president and CEO of the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives Association (NEMRA) strongly recommends that manufacturers exhibit a commitment to training and education that will show the agents they work with that there’s much more to the job than … Read the rest

No Better Place to Start Training Than at the Top


Just as Hank Bergson in the previous article stressed the need for a commitment to training as integral to a company’s sales success, two consultants that have worked closely with MANA member firms maintain that unless that top-down emphasis on continued improvement is present there’s little hope for professional development of a firm’s sales staff.

But before hearing from the consultants, a MANA member weighs in with his real-world view of how important training is for the independent sales agent. “One of the greatest mistakes any of us can make is to assume that we don’t need training — to … Read the rest

What Reps Want for Christmas From Their Principals


While the following article arrived too late for inclusion in the December issue, its message is one that has somewhat of a timeless value.

A long-time national sales manager called our office recently and asked for a sales forecast for the upcoming year. After some careful thought, I almost wanted to call back and ask the same sales manager what his company was going to do for our office to help us increase sales in the New Year. Isn’t it a two-way street anyway?

As a multi-product (more than one principal) representative, we must always be careful not to show … Read the rest

Hit the Ground Running This Year


Is this finally going to be the year?

Will 2014 be the year that you finally step up, stand out, and live up to what you know you can do, to what you’ve been telling yourself for years that you’ll show the world one day? Do you remember when you used to think about how old you’d be and what you’d be doing in the year 2000? That was 14 years ago. Enough of “next year,” it’s time to make this year “next year” and in order to do that, you’ll have to hit the beginning of 2014 like a … Read the rest

Internet Revolution


Long-time friend of MANA Bob Reiss has graciously allowed Agency Sales magazine to serialize his book Bootstrapping 101: Tips to Build Your Business with Limited Cash and Free Outside Help, available now on The book looks at surprisingly effective low-cost and no-cost ways to acquire the resources you need to run your company. Whether your company is an existing enterprise or a start up, a manufacturers’ representative company or a manufacturer, this book will introduce you to innovative ways to cut your costs and drive more of your income into bottom line profits.

Last month we addressed using … Read the rest

Mindset Changes That Can Enhance Your Career Trajectory


Positioning yourself in the marketplace and staying relevant to potential employers involves much more than simply developing career specific skills and writing a great resumé. Your mindset and attitude play a large part in your professional success. In fact, there are specific mental programming techniques that can make a huge difference in whether you fulfill your career aspirations or flounder occupationally.

Abundant Thinking

You can approach your career, job search, or anything in life from one of two viewpoints: scarcity or abundance. With scarcity thinking, the belief sounds something like this: “There are a limited number of jobs, and there … Read the rest

Why Hire Reps? Reps Are Cheap


The following article is reprinted with permission from MAFSI Matters Newsletter.

Reps are cheap. There…we said it! But we weren’t the only ones.

The Manufacturers’ Agents for the Foodservice Industry (MAFSI) reached out to its manufacturer associate members asking, “Why Do You Hire Reps for Your Sales and Marketing Strategy?” The manufacturers have spoken and a resounding theme appeared. It’s simple! Outsourced reps save costs for foodservice manufacturers allowing them to go to market at the best price for the consumer. Simply put, reps are cheap.

The responses were consistently on target with this premise and are composed of various … Read the rest

The Strangest Secret


In 1957, Earl Nightingale, speaker, author and co founder of the Nightingale-Conant Corporation, recorded his classic motivational record The Strangest Secret. The Strangest Secret sold more than one million copies and made history in the recording industry by being honored as the first Gold Record for the spoken word. Nightingale, known as the “dean of personal development,” concluded that life’s “strangest secret” is that we become what we think about all day long.

Your belief system, like your computer, doesn’t judge or even question what you input; it merely accepts your thoughts as the truth, the whole truth and … Read the rest

Stressing the Need for Training


In the course of examining the importance of sales training for this issue of Agency Sales, one manufacturer offered what he found was a major incentive to get his independent representatives to the training table. According to the manufacturer, who works with a network of agents throughout the United States, “We’re well aware of the built-in reluctance some of our reps hold about taking time away from selling in their territory. It makes sense to us that if they’re out of the territory they’re not where they belong — selling in front of their customers.

“However, just as important … Read the rest

Authors Provide Primer for Creating a Social Media Presence


While many independent manufacturers’ representatives and their principals have already created a solid social media footprint to communicate with customers, others have yet to venture into an area that’s a complete mystery.

That’s why Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time, by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith, has arrived at just the right time.

Schaefer and Smith, who have created blogs for everything from Fortune 500 companies to small retailers, schools, government agencies and nonprofits, define blogs as “…the content engine driving the social web. In addition to providing a … Read the rest

Sound Agreement Allows Telecommunications Agent to Avoid Getting Disconnected From Commissions

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Most agents properly focus on generating sales after signing with a new principal. Even as corporations constantly merge or get “restructured,” consideration of the potential impact on the agent is rare. Yet several important questions are usually presented:

  • Is the independent representative’s commission stream adequately protected?
  • What happens if the acquiring party purchases only some of the principal’s assets?
  • And could the principal and the new purchaser orchestrate a sale enabling the purchaser to avoid paying commissions due?

These issues were front and center in a case recently decided by a Kentucky federal court after certain assets of a principal … Read the rest

2014 Is Here. Is Anybody Happy?


A couple of years ago, writing about taxes was fun. There were deductions and exclusions, and the IRS was helpful and forgiving. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The recent investigation of the IRS by Congress seems to have swayed the IRS into punitive action. If they are getting called on the carpet for not following the exact wording of the law, then they will enforce the exact wording.

Taxpayers should therefore be aware that they need documentation like never before, and be very careful in tax preparation; do not expect compassion. For example, one of the recent court cases involved … Read the rest

Tomorrow Never Comes


Planning for the future is something many people are not really keen about. For many people, procrastination is their habit; always saying that they will start saving and planning tomorrow. The most unfortunate part is that the tomorrow comes and passes. Years and even decades pass without realization. The result is that retirement and even emergencies come and people are not prepared for these eventualities.

Situations such as young age and tough economic times blur the need to prepare for the future. In such times, people are bound to live in the present and in the struggle to make ends … Read the rest