Sales Is a Terrible Job!


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Cold-calling strangers to pry hard-earned money from their hands in exchange for your products? Ugh!

Fighting off circling competitors who try to grab customers right out of your hands just as you’re preparing to close? Phooey!

Pandering to fickle customers who lead you on and then buy from somebody else? Unfair!

Meeting people who ask what you do and then wrinkle their noses when you reply “Sales.” Eew!

Fighting off an endless parade of upstarts who want to take your job and work for cheap? Sheesh!

If you think sales is a low-prestige job you settle for until you get something better, you will be right. Well, you will be right for you, at least. Because, with that attitude, you will always be scrabbling in the mud with peers who consider customers to be annoying obstacles between them and their sales commission.

Yes, for you, sales is a terrible job. But, as most MANA representative members know, it can be a wonderful career.

Yes, the first six months is hard for any new salesperson. And for new salespeople who spend that first six months trying to push their products onto anyone with a pulse, things won’t get any better after that first six months.

But for salespeople like most MANA representative members, who instead take a long-term approach and spend that six months studying customers’ problems before offering any solutions, something wonderful starts to happen. That salesperson starts to undergo a metamorphosis from salesperson to trusted consultant. And what started six months ago looking like a sales job undergoes a metamorphosis from job to career.

Careerists like MANA representative members have earned customer loyalty and have no reason to fear that a stranger with a slightly lower price can steal their customers.

Careerists are just as highly valued by their employers and their principals as they are by their customers, so they are also well-protected from upstarts who seek to encroach into the relationships careerists have with employers and principals.

And there is no group of salespeople where careerists are more highly concentrated than among MANA representative members.

Because careerists like MANA representative members treat sales as a career, at the end of each decade they have 10 more years of experience and 10 more years of customer rapport — unlike people who see sales as just a job, who end each decade with the same six months of experience, repeated 20 times.

MANA Products and Services


People ask me quite frequently, “Why should I join MANA? What does a MANA membership do for me?”

When I started at MANA after retiring from a long sales career, I reverted back to the approach I learned when I first started in sales. Those of you who have been around long enough may remember the “Features and Benefits” approach that sales training companies taught then. So, back then I answered, “MANA offers a directory of manufacturers and that helps you find principals to represent.”

Today, I answer the question quite differently.

Over the 15 years I’ve worked at MANA, … Read the rest

MANA Membership — Use It!


MANA’s membership is constantly asked to provide feedback regarding the association’s offering of products and services. It’s not surprising that when asked for their opinions, members refer to the steady stream of teleforums, rep-savvy legal counsel, Agency Sales magazine and the manufacturer seminars in complimentary terms. As examples, read what a few members value as their regular “go to” MANA services.

Paul Nielsen, Brainard Nielsen Marketing, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, explains that he became aware of MANA while in attendance at an ERA conference. “I joined MANA more than 25 years ago because the rep business and, it seems the … Read the rest

Navigating the Beginning of a Career


When Adam Yorston looks back on the career path that has seen him rapidly rise through the ranks of Yorston & Associates, he cites the example set by his father, Bill, as a major contributor to his early success.

After graduation from the New York Institute of Technology with a degree in architecture, the elder Yorston has been active in the sign industry for more than three decades. Beginning his career as a sales associate with Wrisco Industries in Linden, New Jersey, he then established Yorston & Associates, a prestigious manufacturer’s representative firm that serves the sign industry.

It’s during … Read the rest

Manufacturer Provides Agents the Support They Need


Manufacturers demand a level of expertise when they choose to partner with independent manufacturers’ representatives. Likewise, a comparable level of expertise should be present in principals when agencies make their partnering choices.

Here’s how such a marketing and sales philosophy can and has been implemented in the field, according to Mills Rendell, CEO and founder of Zeus Battery Products, Bloomingdale, Illinois: “When I got out of college I was an English major and not an engineer. As I look back there were several occasions when I was caught in engineering meetings and really didn’t enjoy being considered the fool. Questions … Read the rest

Every Day Is First Impression Day


First impressions make a difference when the goal is winning a new customer, moving up the career ladder, gaining acceptance to a group or, of course, attracting a new special friend.

That’s a lot to ask when some experts say first impressions lock-in in the first three to seven seconds. A Princeton University researcher drops it to less than one second.

To make first impressions even more daunting, some claim first impressions are indelible, with no second chances. To put it bluntly, first impressions are a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

That’s one view, a frightening one at … Read the rest

Coaching for Success =
More Profit


In organizations, people place too much emphasis on money as the only form of employee recognition.

While salary, bonuses, and benefits are critical within your employee recognition and reward system — after all, most of us do work for money — think more broadly about your opportunities to provide employee recognition. Consider the fact that low-wage employees often quit because they feel unappreciated and unwanted. Recognition in any field gives people feelings of self-worth that they could never get from just making a dollar.

Walt Disney’s service strategy was:

“… I want Disney to be one of the most admired Read the rest

Is There Really a Process to Sales?


I have been in sales since I was 12 years old selling newspapers door to door. After college I couldn’t wait to get back into sales and make money and that’s just what I did.

If you were like me, you both enjoyed and hated sales at the same time. On the one hand, what a thrill it was to close a sale with the new customer. But on the other hand, the one thing I hated was either the loss of a customer or not knowing if I was going to hit my number this month. And, if you … Read the rest

The Biggest Issues I See in Sales Organizations


While there are lots of potential obstacles and roadblocks to building a great sales organization, there are several blatant issues that are responsible for about 90% of failures.

The Biggest Issues That Derail Sales Organizations

  • Issue #1: No Solid Hiring Process

A solid sales organization starts with solid people. Having solid people starts with having a solid hiring process. Look, salespeople interview well. That’s their job. One person I know had six jobs in 12 months. He was completely inept so he only lasted a short period of time, in one case three hours, but he was good at selling … Read the rest

Body Language: How to Read Your Prospect Like a Book!


Are you aware that your body language gestures reveal your deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers? The very first sale you must make with each new prospect is to “sell yourself.” If your prospect doesn’t like or trust you, he or she will never even remotely consider buying your product or service. Understanding body language gestures will help you build trust and rapport quickly with your prospects and customers — face-to-face or over the phone.

Body language is a mixture of movement, posture, and tone of voice. Top sales reps and the most successful managers recognize the importance … Read the rest

Making the Right Choice


How do you know that an agency is right for your company? That’s the question posed to four MANA manufacturer members and their responses provide some valuable guidance to other principals searching for that right fit for their companies.

First up, the national sales manager for one company explained, “Recommendations from existing sales reps are key in our decision-making process. After we gather the names of potential reps we’ll often call their references and principals to confirm their capabilities. We look at this as just a normal part of our due diligence — it’s hardly an invasion of privacy.” He … Read the rest

Staying Ahead of the Competition


Throughout history people have used tools to get the job done. Better tools give a competitive advantage. Innovative tools leapfrog you ahead of the competition.

Today technology and the tools that come with it provide such an enormous leap that we wouldn’t think of competing in business without them.

Here are seven tools for success, which can give today’s salesperson the advantage in a hotly competitive market.

1. A Useful (and Regularly-Used!) CRM

The Contact Relationship Management tool you use will greatly affect how you connect and ultimately succeed. You want the tool that gives you immediate access to important … Read the rest

Social Media Tips


As the end of the year approaches business leaders are looking back on the year and putting together strategies for the next year. Some of those strategies include the use of social media to boost business traffic. Here the top three tips sales professionals should know before integrating social media into their practices.

1. Corporate social media accounts should not be done away with, but it is time for executives at companies to change expectations and develop a new, more effective approach to social media. The role of the corporate account should remain what it always has been, a necessity … Read the rest

Enforcement of a Contract With an International Entity


Because of the growing representation of foreign entities by United States, Canadian, Mexican or South American sales representative firms (rep firms) it is important for rep firms to read and understand all of the terms of an agreement submitted by a foreign entity and for the rep firm to protect itself under the agreement. It is also important to understand the difficulties that may arise when suing and/or collecting on a judgment against a foreign entity. Some of these issues are highlighted below:

Payment Issues
There are often subtle, but critical, distinctions in the language used in and the ultimate … Read the rest

How Hidden Investment Fees Can Upend Your Retirement Goals


Saving enough money for retirement can be a tricky proposition even under the best circumstances.

But when some of those dollars are being siphoned away by hidden — and perhaps unnecessary — fees, then the path to a secure retirement becomes even more difficult to navigate.

Even small fees can have a major impact over time, which is why people need to be aware of what they are being charged, and whether other options exist that make for a better and smarter investment

Probably 99 percent of people have no clue what they are really paying in fees and expenses. … Read the rest

How Proposed Regulatory Changes Could Boost Your Retirement Savings


Investors who count on their retirement accounts to see them through their golden years sometimes find that those savings add up to less than anticipated. One reason: Broker fees they either didn’t realize they were paying, or which were higher than need be.

But that could be changing. The Obama administration has proposed tougher regulations that officials say would curb “hidden” fees and broker conflicts of interest that can siphon off savings.

They want everyone to put the client’s interests ahead of their own. The idea is great. Putting it to work is more of a challenge. But regardless, that’s … Read the rest

Happy 68th Birthday to MANA

As you probably remember, this great organization of which I’ve had the privilege of being a member for many years, and I, share an important event.

This very day [October 17], we celebrate our 68th birthdays. Hard to believe that we are the age that we’ve become but hopefully the organization is in as good shape as I feel for my age.

I also had the great privilege of being born in Southern California with my first home being my parents apartment in North Hollywood at that time.

We moved back to Western New York, my Dad’s native area, in … Read the rest