I Just Lost My Big Line. What Should I Do?


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It’s a phone call I get, unfortunately, several times a year. A MANA representative member calls to say, “I know I shouldn’t have let one principal become more than half my income, but that’s just how our business grew, and now that line has terminated my firm.”

“I do have a couple of nibbles from competitive lines, but none of them comes close to replacing the commission income from the line we lost. What should I do?”

Looking back at those conversations, I’ve compiled below the suggestions those callers found most useful, both as guidance for you if you ever find yourself in this position and as a reminder to try to grow your line card in a balanced way if you can.

  • Have a rep-savvy rep attorney from MANA’s attorneys list review the agreement that was just terminated. They may discover that you are entitled to more compensation than might be obvious.
  • If your ex-principal is going direct, they may try to recruit one or more of your firm’s salespeople to become their direct salespeople. Give some advance thought to:
    • If this happens, do I care?
    • If I do care, what recourse do I have?
  • When the territory you’re taking over for your new principal has much less existing business than the territory you lost, you can ask your new principal to help you by offering:
    • A “Life of Part, Life of Program” clause, so if you design in a part, they pay you commission on that part for life, even if they terminate you as their representative.
    • An extended termination clause, perhaps adding one month of severance for each year of service.
    • A “no house accounts” policy.
    • A larger territory than you had with your prior principal.
    • A commission bump for the first year.

And probably the best advice I can give you is to call MANA to talk through your options with me or with Jerry Leth, MANA’s VP and General Manager. Having a friendly, experienced sounding board during an emotionally-charged transition may help you see some options you might have missed on your own, and give you a better chance to take the lemons you’ve been handed and make lemonade.

Getting More of the Rep’s Time


Every principal that works with representatives will say that they want more time from their representatives. But very few seem to make a consistent effort to win the hearts and minds of their representatives and fewer actually achieve this goal. There is one word that if used regularly will likely get a representative’s time and energy: that is “goodwill.”

In my experience, goodwill is the single most important thing a principal can offer in an effort to secure more of their reps’ time. Here are a few ideas that might make the difference and enable a principal to create and … Read the rest

Building an Agency With MANA’s Help


While Marnee Palladino may not have planned to forge a career for herself as an independent manufacturers’ representative, her passion for building relationships and providing solutions for individuals’ problems thankfully took her in that direction.

Palladino, president of MARN, Inc. (formerly known as Facture, Inc.) Middlebury, Connecticut, today finds herself firmly positioned to meet the needs of customers and principals in the aerospace/aircraft, automotive, battery, computer, connector, defense, electronics, firearms, marine, medical, military, power generation, semiconductor, superconductor and telecommunications markets.

According to Palladino, “Following graduation from college I didn’t start out in sales. I began as a project manager for … Read the rest

Sitting at Your Principal’s Planning Table


How do you “earn” a spot with your principals?

In the old days, the good old days, independent manufacturers’ representatives were “part of the family.” Today many of the people agents work with are new to their positions with the manufacturers or very inexperienced working with outsourced salespeople. Attitudes have changed. Agents are often looked at as “vendors” in a “supply chain.” There is very little appreciation for the things they do and the way they work for and with the principal.

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Nothing has changed in the nature of the independent agent’s role. It … Read the rest

Getting to the “Emotional Favorite” Level


How can I be sure that I’m getting my fair share — if not more than my fair share — of my reps’ time in front of customers? That’s a question that’s been asked time and again by manufacturers that have either made the decision to go to market with independent manufacturers’ representatives, or who are just on the verge of making such a decision.

To answer that question or at least to alleviate the concern that many manufacturers have about sharing time on the rep’s line card with other non-competitive manufacturers, what’s needed is a philosophy or mindset that … Read the rest

Know How to Rock the Boat


My definition of “Rocking the Boat” is to do things differently to the point of causing society to take note of a change in direction. It’s believing in yourself and jumping into the sea of opportunity.

In my book, Moving Up I said, “I’m tired of watching life pass by the millions of talented employees and future business owners who — for whatever reason — don’t connect their passion with their success. Life happens to all of us and it can be overwhelming and depressing and make our dreams and aspirations seem small — don’t you believe it for a … Read the rest

Developing Account Strategies


Excerpted with permission of the publisher, from the First Steps to Success in Outside Sales.

Keep in mind that you are in it (this job) for the long-term. This is not a six-month job. You’re going to be doing this work, calling on these customers and developing this business for some time. Rarely will you make one sales call on someone and then never see them again. More likely, you will come to know these customers. You can’t expect to sell everything to everyone on the first call. That means you will see them again and again and again.

Read the rest

Your Buyer Is Smarter Than You


Too many salespeople view their buyers as anything but smart, especially those salespeople who deal with purchasing departments. In far too many sales communities, there exists an attitude that buyers and purchasing departments are nothing more than barriers that need to be broken down.

Well, yes there are barriers. Ironically, though, they are barriers that more often than not are there due to the very actions of the sales community. One simple thing salespeople need to keep in mind is the fact the professional buyer sees far more salespeople in the course of a week or month than most salespeople … Read the rest

How to Get Ahead Faster — and Stay There


No matter what you do, getting ahead shouldn’t depend on lucky breaks, favoritism, or even hard work. It should be in our control. To make that happen, certain behaviors will help you stand out from the crowd. Here are eight of them.

1. Be Suspicious

No one likes getting blindsided, yet it’s all too common in business. More than anything else, a little paranoia helps avoid the sucker punches.

Even when some coworkers are bracing for a layoff, others are shocked when it happens. “I didn’t see it coming,” they say. Is it possible that we can get so wrapped … Read the rest

Answering Outsourced Sales Questions


A manufacturer that was relatively new to the concept of working with independent manufacturers’ representatives voiced two important concerns about the rep business model when he was speaking with a fellow manufacturer at an industry meeting last fall. The two areas of concern were the following:

  • “We’re probably going to have to train our new reps from a zero knowledge base.”
  • “How do we know that we’re going to get our fair share of the reps’ time since agencies represent other non‑competing lines?”

Thankfully the manufacturer he was speaking with was able to respond from his historical perspective: “You’re really … Read the rest

Technology Provides Needed Sales Touches

Technology will never be able to diminish the value of a sales call. At least that’s what is advocated by William Miller in his book, Proactive Selling.

As he takes a look at the technologies (e.g., links, video e-mails, website chats, etc.) that have become staples for the sales profession, Miller notes that “…a face–to-face call with a prospect still has more value than an e-mail, and a 30-minute phone call will have more value than a text message. Sales calls will not go away. However, sales touches can be a positive way to keep the buy/sell process moving and … Read the rest

Making a Federal Case Out of It

By and

So, you’re a sales representative who has been wronged by a manufacturer that has its principal place of business in a neighboring state.
(Most likely not a MANA manufacturer member, in our experience, as that group tends to be respectful of its representatives and representative agreements.) You file a breach of contract action for $100,000 in damages in your home state since that is where all of your sales efforts took place. Shortly after officially serving the manufacturer with a copy of the lawsuit you are informed by your attorney that the case has been “removed” to federal court. Your … Read the rest

Are You a Door Mat or a Matador With Your Money?


When it came to saving and investing, I used to be a door mat. I enrolled in a 401k because I was told to. I selected certain investments because I was told they were good. I saved money with a bank because that’s what others did.

I basically let banks, Wall Street and the money system walk all over me like a door mat. It left me defeated, poorer and feeling out of control.

Then I lost 38 percent of my 401k in 2008. After being brought low in the depths of humility, I decided to rise from the ashes … Read the rest

MANA Director Receives Tony Award

MANA Director Danny Collis recently received the highest award of the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry (MAFSI). Collis received the Tony Award, which recognizes a member who has consistently performed and demonstrated sincere interest, effort and leadership, and has given time to the welfare and progress of MAFSI and the enhancement of the manufacturer agents’ function and position in the industry.… Read the rest

Cinpak, Inc. Acquires DandK Marketing

Cinpak, Inc. announced the acquisition of DandK Marketing, a manufacturers’ representative company specializing in “table top” products operating in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Cinpak is a manufacturers’ representative company for disposable and jan-san products covering six states (www.cinpak.com).

This acquisition allows Cinpak to expand its markets and fulfill its strategy to expand deeply into the “table top” niche. It also allows them to add seasoned representatives with strong relationships in key markets who fit the purpose and core value of the company.

DandK Marketing will be rebranded as Cinpak TT and will operate as a separate business unit. Don Roets, … Read the rest