Revealing Moments


© nicolaselowe |

What happens when a deer first catches the scent or sound of a hunter? The deer freezes. Why does the deer freeze? Because motion would catch the hunter’s eye and make the deer’s presence obvious. To hide in plain sight, the deer needs to be motionless.

What about things that hide in plain sight in our businesses — procedures, practices and policies that undermine our success? How do we catch sight of things that are so much a part of our daily routine that they blend into the landscape?

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Winston Churchill, to which I would add, “Never let a good transition go to waste” either. Transitions are motions that make things visible that were not visible while they were motionless. Let me give you an example.

Three members of MANA’s Board of Directors recently completed their terms of service on the Board. Three new Board members took their places. Six transitions not to be wasted!

When a Board member leaves MANA, or an employee leaves your company, or when a relationship with one of your principals ends, that transition should trigger an exit interview. Exit interviews recognize that an exit is a significant transition and a one-time-only opportunity to get frank feedback from someone who might have been reluctant to be blunt while they were still part of the organization.

MANA Board member exit interviews focus on experiences on the Board which were positive and experiences which were not, and guidance for successors. In your business, when a relationship with an employee or principal ends, you can extract the last bit of value from that relationship with an exit interview that might reveal important facts about your business that might never be discovered any other way.

When a new Board member joins MANA, or an employee joins your company, or when a relationship with a new principal begins, that transition should trigger a “fresh eyes” interview. A new Board member will see things in their first Board meeting that a veteran might dismiss as routine. In your business a new employee or a new principal relationship puts “fresh eyes” on your firm and may reveal problems or opportunities that were hiding in plain sight.

Whenever something changes at MANA it gives us an opportunity to illuminate teachable moments that help us improve our services to you. We hope you will join us in never letting a good transition go to waste.

Rep Councils in 2016? Really?


I was personally brought into my first rep council in 2001. I was shocked and honored that they asked me (first Canadian rep) to be associated with this long-standing tradition at this company.

I had never been on a council or really ever represented a product line that was involved in this type of practice. What was a rep council and what does it mean that I am the first Canadian to be on it?

I quickly researched rep councils to prepare myself as to what they are and how they work. Fellow colleagues told me not to make it … Read the rest

Why I Love to Find My Competitors’ House Accounts


Some messages never get old. That’s the case with some advice that was offered in these pages eight years ago when an independent manufacturers’ representative explained how he looked at competitors’ house accounts as fertile prospecting ground. Doyle Evans, who was the president of Pinnacle Marketing Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, authored the following article in the pages of Agency Sales. We republish the article this month emphasizing that his advice is as valid now as it was then.

As with many things in our business, house accounts are double-edged swords and thus can cut both ways. While reps dislike … Read the rest

Manufacturer Fine Tunes Its Rep Council


More than 10 years ago when Howden North America was singled out by a MANA member as a “Perfect Principal,” the company’s dedication to its network of independent manufacturers’ representatives was evident. Howden, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, designs and manufactures large fans and blowers, rotary heat exchangers and process gas compressors for utility and industrial applications.

When the manufacturer’s relations with agencies were described in the July 2005 issue of Agency Sales, the views that agents had of the manufacturer were very positive.

For instance, consider these words from one agent: “Howden has a well-established methodology for dealing … Read the rest

How to Get the Fish in the Boat the Right Way


Trying to get fish into the boat before catching them sounds crazy, something that wouldn’t make sense to experienced fishermen. Even so, it’s the most common error salespeople make and accounts — more than anything else — for lost orders and prospects who never become customers. That’s what happens when you try to get the order before you have a customer.

What salespeople are doing makes perfect sense to them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t compute so well with their prospects and customers. They are so focused on making the sale, they don’t think about what’s going on in the customer’s head … Read the rest

What’s to Lose? Just Ask


Leave Your Comfort Zone for Bold Requests

I truly believe that people must periodically step outside of their comfort zone to grow as a company and a person. In fact, once you start to do it, you will discover that your comfort zone expands. Doing this will empower you to request bold things that may elicit comments from your peers and associates like “outrageous, overreach, impossible.” You can overcome these naysayers and your own inclination of fearing failure by your preparation for this bold request, which I like to call Just Ask. Acquiring intense knowledge of the person you … Read the rest

Susan Strouse, MANA’s Secretary/Treasurer Marks 10 Years With MANA

photo of Susan StrouseAs she marked her 10th anniversary of service with MANA earlier this year, Susan Strouse, the association’s secretary/treasurer and accounting manager, notes that despite the many changes that MANA has undergone during her tenure, its dedication to serving the membership has never wavered or been stronger than it is today.

Strouse arrived at MANA a decade ago well prepared to provide the association and its members with expert financial service. Prior to her time with the association, she worked for 13 years as chief financial officer and bookkeeper at a printing company, and 10 years as bookkeeper, student services director … Read the rest

The Importance of the Name Game


What’s the sweetest sound that you can hear? According to recent research studying brain activation, the answer is… “Your Name.” A person’s name is a precious possession. Remembering a name represents a simple, but powerful customer care skill that people notice and appreciate.

Everyone loves hearing their own name! Remembering and recognizing your customers’ names and using their names goes a long way to convincing them that you and your organization care. Your customers give you multiple chances every day to remember a name, recognize a face, and recall a previous transaction, all to show them that their satisfaction is … Read the rest

How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make It in Sales?


I am of the belief that pretty much anyone can make it in sales if they are determined enough. Sales can be learned. I am proof of that. After struggling in school and being an abysmal failure at the onset of my sales career, if I can be successful, you can too. After all, as a former president once said, this isn’t rocket surgery.

Granted, some personality types and skillsets are more cut out for sales but the bottom line is: if you are committed, you can be successful. That said, what must you be willing to do to be … Read the rest

Creating Long-Term Goals


One of the habits often practiced by highly successful people is the habit of regular goal setting. There is a reason for that. Long-term goals compel you to work with discipline and concentration rather than going about your job mindlessly and routinely. Goal-setting is a discipline that helps you focus.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t do your job without goals. You can, and many salespeople do. But the discipline of goal setting forces you to think about what you do. It moves you out of the realm of being reactive — doing what other people want you to do … Read the rest

Position Yourself as a Sales Leader


It’s been said that to be a successful salesperson, not only do your listening skills have to be great, but your closing skills have to be even better. However, I believe that while these skills are helpful, they are not essential. In my opinion, to be a top-performing sales professional, you must be a great leader. It is a fundamental character trait.

Although we have all known salespeople who have had stellar years based on the luck of a few great clients, those with sustained, long-term success always exhibit great leadership skills.

What is a leader? Leaders are people who … Read the rest

Putting Priorities in Order


Taking a break from a roundtable discussion at an industry meeting earlier this year, one manufacturer described his major reason for making a move in the direction of independent manufacturers’ representatives vs. a direct sales force.

“We’re simply not getting the bang for our buck that we need. In our case the cost of paying and supporting our direct salespeople isn’t being covered by their performance in the field. Our thinking is that if we replace them with an outsourced sales force, all we have to do is pay commissions and the reps support themselves.”

Two of the manufacturer’s peers … Read the rest

Top B2B Sales Trends in 2016


It is clear that 2016 will mark a period of change for the 4.5 million business-to-business sales professionals in the United States. Large industry trends such as new technology, reliance on social media, big data, the relationship between sales and marketing, workplace diversity, and the influx of Millennials will all have a major effect on the sales industry and its leaders.

In any business, staying ahead of the curve is critical if you want to beat out your competitors. That means adapting growth strategies and tactics to industry trends so that forecasted growth estimates can be realized.

There may never … Read the rest

Contract Terms Matter


Sales representatives are skilled at knowing and understanding the product they are selling, listening, reading a customer’s interest, promoting a product and being persistent. However, a sales representative’s enthusiasm to obtain a new principal or product line often results in a cursory or brief review of the actual sales representative agreement (referred to in this article as the “SRA”) which is usually prepared and presented to the sales representative by the principal. Failing to understand and participate in the negotiation and preparation of the terms in a written SRA can significantly affect the business of the sales representative during and … Read the rest

Why Your Financial Plan Is Bigger Than You

The big story in financial planning has been and will continue to be affording retirement, which makes ample sense with the retirement of tens of thousands of baby boomers expected every week for several consecutive years.

For boomers, many of whom have little to no retirement plan in place, affording retirement may be their generation’s last great social cause.

“The concerns over Social Security solvency alone epitomize the fact that your personal wealth, a clear-cut concern for each individual, extends beyond only you,” says Edward Sota, president and co-founder of Safeguard Financial Services, Inc., and a partner at Safeguard Investment … Read the rest

Are Your Retirement Resources Working Together?

It is human nature to make decisions one at a time, says retirement income plan architect and CFP Travis Chance. Unfortunately, what seems like a good idea in one area of retirement planning can prove ruinous in another, he says.

“Designing a good retirement plan is like designing a house: you can’t plan one room without consideration of the entire structure,” says Chance, president and founder of CFG Wealth Management, LLC, and CFG Insurance Planning.

“But that’s exactly what people do when they make changes in one aspect of retirement funding without consideration of other sources. The more-the-merrier approach for … Read the rest