Need to Hire a Rep Badly in a Big Hurry?By Charles Cohon
You probably will.
It’s a call I get several times a year from a desperate manufacturer. And it’s a call I never, ever get from a MANA manufacturer member. “I just lost the customer who has been 70 percent of my business for the last 10 years. So I need to hire a rep badly in a big hurry.”
I bite my tongue.
Because what I want to say is, “You want to hire a rep badly in a big hurry? That’s fortunate, because the only way you can hire a rep in a big hurry is badly.”
But I don’t say that. Instead I ask:
- What experience do you have working with representatives?
- Would you be willing to work on a Life of Part / Life of Program basis?
- Would you make some sort of contribution to the cost of pioneering new business with a Market Development Fee?
The response I get to the first question is either, “I’ve never worked with reps but now I am desperate,” or “I had a few reps but after they brought me some customers I didn’t see the value anymore so I terminated them.”
Their answer on the topic of “Life of Part / Life of Program” commissions is always the same. “No way. Why should I keep paying a rep for the business after I already have it?”
And their response to the third question also is consistent. “Nope. The cost of pioneering the line is the rep’s responsibility.”
Again, I bite my tongue. Because what I want to say is: “Let me help you write the ad.”
Manufacturer on the brink of bankruptcy needs representative to quickly deliver orders and save my company. No existing business, but don’t expect any financial help to pioneer our line. And if you do bring in orders that save my company, I am already planning to terminate you at my earliest opportunity.
The good news is that this manufacturer also consistently balks at paying MANA’s annual dues—which, frankly, is a relief, because MANA representative members deserve better principals than this one.
MANA manufacturer members, as a rule, know that working with reps is a marathon, not a sprint. Locating, recruiting, hiring, and partnering with reps is time-consuming, hard work. It doesn’t happen quickly, but once the hard work is done, the benefits can last for decades. Which is why quality MANA‑member principals don’t rush the process — they take the time needed to do the job right.