Need to Hire a Rep Badly in a Big Hurry?

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“We want someone who’s willing to take risks.”
© cartoonresource | Dollar Photo Club

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:

  1. What experience do you have working with representatives?
  2. Would you be willing to work on a Life of Part / Life of Program basis?
  3. 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.”

Representative Wanted

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.

How Involved Should Reps Be on the Internet?

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I am sure for many Baby Boomers (like me) this question comes up on a regular basis and like many situations, we have options:

  • Jump in with both feet and figure it out
  • Wait awhile and see what everyone else does (leading edge not bleeding edge) or
  • I don’t know what I am doing so I am not going to do anything.

Sadly, it appears that option #3 is selected far too often by some Boomers that run independent manufacturers’ representative businesses. Often, we refer back to what we know and are skeptical of the unknown, so we move slowly … Read the rest

Aerospace Agents Address Concerns

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With more than two decades under his belt as an independent manufacturers’ representative, Greg Reynolds is not convinced that the traditional manufacturers’ rep business model is currently working for aerospace manufacturers’ agents.

Reynolds, president & CEO of Target Marketing Associates, Inc., Rocky Hill, Connecticut, describes the unique challenges manufacturers’ representatives face working in the aerospace industry that are perhaps not encountered by reps in other industries. Prior to a rep receiving commission payments, the aerospace industry sales cycle may take as long as 12-24 months and include factors such as 12-18 months to obtain customer approvals, 4-6 months lead-time to … Read the rest

Websites Prove You’re in Business

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Randi Brawley doesn’t hold anything back when she advises why it’s critical for businesses to have a professionally crafted presence on the Internet. According to Brawley, principal of Synerge-Marketing, LLC, Fairfield, Connecticut, there’s no better way for a company — and naturally an independent manufacturers’ representative agency — to get in front of potential customers and manufacturers than if they have a professional website.

Admittedly, this is hardly news for MANA members. More than a decade ago when Agency Sales first took a look at its members’ presence on the Internet and particularly with their own company websites, fewer than … Read the rest

Learning the Hard Way

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One of the keys to being successful is to prepare for unexpected events.

As a business owner I have to keep an eye on a lot of things. Whether it’s in America or overseas, tasks can slip through my fingers before I realize what happened. I pride myself as the consummate “multi-tasker.” I try to keep things under control and catch myself falling into the micromanaging trap every once in a while. But, there are always circumstances that pop up in business and a small crisis that can topple even the most cautious and trusting executive. I learned that the … Read the rest

Evaluating Principals for Fun and Profit!

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Principals are the most important asset an independent manufacturers’ representative firm has.

As a result, it is absolutely essential that the agency analyze and evaluate the list of principals regularly. The agency is putting all of its resources into building business for and with the principals, so it’s critical to know what the value is of each principal relationship.

Everything Is Based on Profitable Commissions

No matter how you feel about a principal, no matter what each principal is paying you, the bottom line is that you, the independent agent need to know whether each principal who represents 3-5 percent … Read the rest

Customer Information You Need to Build Super-Strong Relationships

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Any time the subject of relationships comes up and I ask how important they are in the overall sales and business process, I usually get the answer that they are the most important part.

I think we all know that the more a prospect or customer likes us, the more likely they are to conduct business with us regardless of most other factors and in fact, a prospect will buy a higher-priced, inferior product from someone they like vs. someone they don’t.

Make no mistake, building solid relationships takes time, effort, energy, and money and that’s precisely why most people … Read the rest

Closing Sales Means Making Sense to Customers

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It takes smart, highly competent salespeople to meet the challenges presented by today’s informed and savvy customers.

Even so, there are many in sales who believe that success depends on a friendly smile, a gift for small talk, and a large dose of enthusiasm and optimism. Others might toss in a passion for selling, listening, the ability to close, and coming across as sincere. Yet, possessing a great attitude and excellent sales skills doesn’t guarantee success.

Many salespeople who “do everything right” underperform. With so much focus on personal qualities and skills, the sales process doesn’t get the attention it … Read the rest

Making Connections

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Creating rapport with anyone in fewer than 30 seconds.

We all know the power of first impressions. How people perceive us during the first few seconds of an encounter has a major influence on whether they will trust us, be attracted to us, or want to conduct business with us. To create a positive first impression, we need to know how to connect immediately with others regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, mood, or the situation.

Let’s begin by testing your “first impression awareness.” What would you think of the waiter in the following situation? You’re having a business … Read the rest

MANA Recognizes Long-Term Members

Thank you

MANA wants to recognize members who have been with us for many years.

Every January we list in Agency Sales those agent and principal members who celebrated their 65, 60, 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 year membership anniversary the previous year.

MANA thanks and congratulates the members we listed below for their long-term support and commitment.

Note: We also thank those long-term members whose longevity does not end in a “0” or “5.” Your company name was either published within the past three years or will be published within the next two.

Agent Members

65 Years

James … Read the rest

Is the Business Model Broken?

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A call to MANA headquarters from an independent agent was the starting point for a timely discussion on the viability of the independent manufacturers’ representative business model.

This manufacturers’ representative’s point was that with e-commerce sites like www.instrumart.com (instruments and sensors) and www.usabluebook.com (equipment supplier for water and wastewater operations), customers now buy what they need online from these and other sites at low cost. They don’t need manufacturers’ representatives calling on them. Following the call, the subject was discussed by the MANA LinkedIn discussion group.

One of the first respondents to the question opted for the view that the … Read the rest

Secrecy in the Age of Social Media

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Six Ways to Keep Trade Secrets and Sensitive Company Info Offline

In today’s “sharing” culture, employees are used to posting about the minutiae of their lives on social media — and that can mean bad news for your company. James Pooley shares tips to help ensure that your company’s sensitive data, proprietary information, and trade secrets aren’t inadvertently leaked on a social media feed.

You can be sure that most of your employees are active on social media. For younger ones, in fact, Facebooking, Instagramming, and Tweeting are as natural as breathing. But suppose an employee shared pictures of your … Read the rest

Dispute Resolution: Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation

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Occasionally, a sales representative becomes involved in a serious dispute with a principal. By “serious” I am referring to a dispute with potentially significant negative financial consequence to the representative. Examples of such would be a reduction in an agreed commission rate, the reduction or elimination of a representative’s territory, termination of the relationship, or an outright refusal to pay earned commissions. If informal negotiations prove unsuccessful, the parties will be faced with arbitration, litigation, or mediation as the means to resolve the dispute. This article discusses the features of these three types of dispute resolution.

Mediation refers to negotiations … Read the rest

Are You Properly Nurturing Your Money Tree?

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Gather ‘round people and let me tell you the Parable of the Poor Farmer.

Not so long ago there was a poor farmer who lived in the land of Opportunity. He was really smart and had learned his lessons all too well. He knew that if he worked hard he would do well and be able to provide plenty of food for his family while still having some produce to sell so that he could buy more seeds for the next planting season.

In the early years the poor farmer barely managed to eke out a living, but he was … Read the rest

MANA Members Tell Rep Story to Undergraduates

MANA members Larry Roy, Enterprise Electronic Sales, Inc., and Chris Schnetzer, CAT Equipment Company and president of Manu­facturers’ Agents of Cincinnati (MAC), made the most of their time in front of an undergraduate audience at Kent State University late last fall. Promoting and supporting the rep profession in front of an audience comprised of student members of Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE), the national sales and marketing fraternity, the two independent manufacturers’ representatives presented a PowerPoint presentation and took questions during their 20-minute presentation.

Student representatives from the following universities were in attendance:

  • Purdue University
  • Ball State University
  • University of Toledo
  • Read the rest