Testimonials and Endorsements


(Because blowing your own horn doesn’t cut it anymore).


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“I have been to hundreds of presentation, training, and promotional events in my 25-year career. I have to say that yours ranks in the top three.” That’s how Eric Rodriguez, Director of Sales, 1factory, started his e-mail reviewing my recent MANA workshop at the Technology and Manufacturing Association in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Eric continued his e-mail with nine specific highlights he noted from the workshop. This was definitely a feel-good moment for me. But as I wrote a thank-you note to Eric, it occurred to me that this should be more than a feel-good moment for me. It should be an opportunity for MANA to give assurance to prospective future workshop attendees that attending MANA workshops would be a good investment.

So I added a brief PS to my “thank you” e-mail to Eric. Could I also quote his e-mail as a MANA testimonial? Eric was happy to oblige, and MANA’s online testimonials page, www.manaonline.org/testimonials, was born. Now prospective MANA members and workshop attendees can read comments about MANA from manufacturers and representatives. And, of course, each time we get a compliment we ask for permission to post it.

Independent testimonials and endorsements are the most compelling reason to buy, and MANA members can take advantage of testimonials to grow their businesses too. Are you a manufacturer trying to recruit new representatives? Include testimonials from your current representatives so the representatives you’re trying to recruit know you’re a good principal. Are you a representative looking to sign on new principals? Testimonials from current principals and customers will get you attention from the companies you want to add to your line card.

Looking for other ways to earn testimonials and endorsements? If you have a LinkedIn account, your customers, clients, and colleagues can post endorsements on your account. You’ll be surprised at how generous your customers, clients, and colleagues can be — at last count, I had 627 LinkedIn endorsements.

In an era where third-party review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Tripadvisor dominate consumers’ buying choices, blowing your own horn does not tip the scale in your direction any more. Start collecting and sharing testimonials now to ensure the scales tip in your direction in the future.

Create Your Path to Prosperity


About a third of the new agent members who join MANA every month are start-ups. By start-up, we mean they have been in business anywhere from one year to just preparing to start. I call all new members who join each month and I learn from these calls that start-ups share similar backgrounds. They previously worked as a direct salesperson for a company. They know how to sell. The customers they sold to, and plan to sell to, know them, trust them, and buy from them.

However, they lack skills to professionally run a business because they never owned a … Read the rest

Analyzing the Agency Start Up: Agents Compare Notes


Close to 20 years ago in the pages of Agency Sales magazine a MANA member recalled the primary reasons why she and her business partner decided to follow an independent manufacturers’ representative career path. Among the several reasons for following this path, she cited these:

  • A desire to define her own destiny.
  • A belief that she had the skills necessary to be successful.
  • An inclination to test her beliefs that she could do things better than the management at companies where she had worked previously.
  • To fulfill a desire to stop the cycle of corporate-dictated relocations around the country every
Read the rest

Basic Steps for Starting an Agency


It’s hardly a surprise when MANA receives a communication from an individual who has reached a certain point in his or her career when the prospect of becoming an independent manufacturers’ representative is considered. Generally a query is received via phone, e-mail — and increasingly less via regular mail — asking, “I want to become a rep, what do I have to do now?” Rest assured that MANA is well positioned to handle this question.

In general terms, here’s how the question is posed: “I’m in my late 40s, married with a couple of children. I’ve spent 20 or more … Read the rest

How to Significantly Increase Business


You can absolutely double, triple, or even quadruple your business if you’re committed, but make no mistake, it’s going to take a gut-wrenching, monumental effort. So if you’ve got the stomach for it, put on your helmet, fasten your seatbelt, and follow this plan.

Steps to a Massive Business Increase

Step 1: Start With What Built This Country Many Years Ago

In other words, start with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. No whining, no complaining, no entitlement, just hard work, self-discipline and a great attitude.

Hard work is the reason why the average legal immigrant to this country … Read the rest



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 Amazon.com. 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.

Factors finance $120 billion in … Read the rest

Sell Me This Pen


A recent blockbuster movie ended with this request —
“Sell me this pen.”

This seems to be an easy enough request to respond to. However, the answers can be far-ranging and ineffective. Maybe the most appropriate response is, “I have something for you to sign.”

That was the answer given in the movie Wolf of Wall Street, but in real life sales, the response can be somewhat haunting. What would your sales professionals say to that request if asked about your product or service? Would they explain what the product or service does, consists of, its uniqueness? Do they … Read the rest

Achieving Better Results From Your Manufacturer-Representative Relationships


Have you ever been sitting in a business review with your rep or supplier partner and thought, “What can I do to energize my partner to grow sales and market share?” Or, have you ever thought, “Why can’t my partner just grow sales or ship products faster so that we can beat our sales target?”

There are ways to use your supplier-rep partnership in order to achieve your personal or corporate objectives with respect to rep sales. There are several techniques you can learn and implement in order to achieve greater sales, faster sales growth, improved market share, or any … Read the rest

Employee Recognition and Praise Motivates at All Levels


Want a happier, more productive work environment? Focus on recognizing what your employees and you do right.

If you want a happier, more productive work environment that motivates and keeps employees, focus on recognizing what they and — just as important — you do right. While we see ranking of the factors that drive performance shifting with each study over time, recognition holds its own as a powerful motivator at all levels of the organization.

A survey in the late ‘90s of thousands of workers across the United States compared supervisor and employee rankings on factors that motivate employees. The … Read the rest

Top 10 Worst Things to Say to Angry Customers


You may have great products, but you can still have customer service problems caused by bad weather, equipment failures, or human error.

While you can’t control external events, you can control what you say to upset customers. Certain phrases will serve to either defuse or enflame.

After more than 20 years of speaking at conferences and training teams on customer service, here are my top 10 worst things to say to unhappy customers (from least offensive to most), along with tips for regaining trust.

  • “Want the good news or bad?”

When customers hear bad news they tend to catastrophize. They … Read the rest

There’s Nothing Like a Written Contract


“When it comes to contracts, ‘win-win’ is a terrific philosophy to strive for.” That’s how one manufacturer opened a conversation on negotiating contracts with his independent manufacturers’ representatives. He goes on to say, however, that “I’d be less than honest if I wasn’t always striving for the agreement that would truly benefit me. And, I’ve got to believe most reps feel the very same way.”

With that as a prelude, he goes on to note how surprised he’s been over the years at the number of agents who simply sign the contract that his company offers them. “I’ll admit it’s … Read the rest

Outsourcing, David Ricardo and You


“What are you doing that you don’t have to do?”
— Mike McKinley, professional speaker

You don’t have to do it all. It sometimes can feel that way. You have to hunt for leads, make the appointments, close the sales and maintain the relationships. You also like to have control over things. You like to manage details about all the “stuff” happening in your business.

Well, let it go. Let it go and prosper. Let me explain.

You have expertise in certain areas. That is why you are in business for yourself. You have a few things where you have … Read the rest

The Procuring Cause Doctrine Enables Even Employees to Recover Post‑Termination Commissions


This column ordinarily features legal issues confronting independent sales representatives who promote manufacturers’ products, not company reps involved in marketing the services of their employers. However, when Keith Miller maintained he was mistreated by his principal, who also happened to be his employer, it happened in a manner so brazen that all independent reps will not only feel his pain, but will respect and cheer his concerted efforts to get paid.

Employed for several years as a field sales representative for Paul M. Wolff Co., a subcontractor specializing in concrete finishing services known as PMW, Miller was responsible for facilitating … Read the rest

C Corporations



While all three forms of entities can serve to limit the liability of the owners, the essential difference with C Corporations is in the matter of taxation (and then available fringe benefits).

Both S Corporations and LLCs are taxed as if they were partnerships, in that there is no federal tax usually levied on the entity. Only the individual owners pay taxes on the net income (as with partnerships). However the C Corporation is subject to “double taxation” to the extent it shows net profits. First, the corporation pays taxes on the net earnings and then the individuals are … Read the rest

MANA Member Bob Borden Found a Way to Support His Grandson’s High School and MANA

photo of sign by R.H. Borden and CompanyMANA member Bob Borden found a good way to support his grandson’s high school and get his and MANA’s name in front of the community by displaying a banner at all of the school’s home football games.

Borden, R.H. Borden and Company, LLC, Kamas, Utah, explains that the idea for the banner developed as part of a fundraiser for the school where his grandson, sophomore Wes Borden, is a member of the undefeated (as this is written) Olympus High School football team in Salt Lake City. According to Borden, whose agency serves the oil and gas industries, “The real purpose … Read the rest