Agents Benefit From Extensive Support Network


Who supports the representative system of selling? MANA, of course, but there are probably more people in that role than you’d expect, from a wide range of industry-specific representative associations to an elite group of representative-savvy attorneys.

How do these executives discover opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other? Often it’s at a MANA-hosted meeting where those executives share the latest innovations and best practices that support the representative system of selling.

Why does MANA host this event? Because the insights from those meetings will benefit MANA representative and manufacturer members for years to come.

The first day of this recent event MANA hosted representative association executives to meet with their peers as members of the Alliance of Manufacturers’ Representative Associations (AMRA). With such a powerful group gathered together, the conversation quickly turned to ways that these associations could collaborate for their representative and manufacturer members’ benefit, enhance member services, and share educational resources.

Sharing their expertise were: Stacey Woldt, AIM/R; Patricia Collins, EMDA; Tess Hill, ERA; Bill Weiner, IHRA; Ray Wright, IPRO; Charles Cohon, MANA; Jerry Leth, MANA; Liz Beerman, MRERF; Ken Hooper, NEMRA; Susan Crolla, PTRA. (My fault that we missed taking a group photo, sorry!)

The second day of this event MANA hosted attorneys who specialize in manufacturer/representative law to meet with their counterparts from across the country as members of the MANA Attorney Forum.

MANA Attorney Forum

Two examples of how MANA provides backstage support for its agent and manufacturer members are the association’s participation in AMRA and the MANA-sponsored Attorney Forum. Participants in this years’ Attorney Forum are above, back row, left to right: Mark Smith, Adam Glazer, Matt Benson, Tom Kammerait, Barbara Kramer, John Riccione, Dan Beederman, Gerry Newman, Randy Gillary and Charles Cohon. Front row, from left: Jerry Leth, Steve Nelson, Mark Schmidt, Scott Sanders, Doug Andrews, John Anderson and John Rotaris.

What do members of the MANA Attorney Forum discuss? Yes, as you might expect, they discuss how to enforce agreements that have not been honored (almost always with principals who are not MANA members), but they spent just as much time discussing how to write fair agreements to avoid post-termination conflicts.

And there is much more to MANA Attorney Forum members than just representative agreements. The group also discussed how reps can avoid conflicts of interest, ways that alternative compensation like stock options can substitute for commission, and valuation and succession planning for representative firms.

Attorney Forum

Left to right: Doug Andrews, Steve Nelson, Steve Valentine, and John Riccione participating in an ongoing discussion at the Attorney Forum.

When executives who support the representative system of selling share their expertise, everybody wins. And MANA is a better association for having participated.

Backsell the CFO


Save the Life of Your Manufacturer-Rep Relationship

In June I attended the MANA Attorney Forum and AMRA (Alliance of Manufacturers’ Representative Associations) meetings. At both events, I heard a recurring theme: when high-quality manufacturers create relationships with professional manufacturers’ representatives, the results way exceed expectations. Unfortunately, I also heard about the other types of relationships, the ones where a management change results in disappointment for both parties. Two totally diverse groups; rep-savvy attorneys in one, association executives in the other, both with the same message.

What motivates someone to take something that works and change it so it doesn’t? What … Read the rest

Different Paths Lead to Rep Profession


Spend a little time perusing the profiles of MANA members and it’s obvious that the majority of independent manufacturers’ representatives began their careers by selling. They either grew up in a family-owned agency or made the move from the manufacturer’s side of the desk to the rep’s side for any number of reasons. However, a closer look at those profiles will show an interesting variety of career beginnings.

Over the years, Agency Sales has profiled agents who have been involved in everything from law enforcement, business consulting, and even professional sports. Somewhat typical of the move from one career to … Read the rest

Listening When It Matters — Steps for Setting Up a Rep Council


Establishing a representative council can be a fantastic way to harness the powerful experience and knowledge of your sales force — creating an environment that allows for your most important and influential channels to provide you with insight and ideas. This, in turn, will allow you to better understand the market, as well as create the structure, tools and energy needed to engage your sales force, and direct your efforts to what really matters (and motivates) them to help you grow sales together.

Background — Standing Up Channel Management

Alfa Laval’s Process Technology Division, whose U.S. operations are based in … Read the rest

Tinker Your Way to Success


It took a long time but it had to happen. And it did. Finally, there are schools, summer camps and weekend experiences where kids learn how to tinker. This is far from what some call “futzing around” and others label wasting time. It’s serious business.

Tinkering was once a valued profession. Adept at analyzing and solving problems, tinkerers tackled anything that needed fixing. They were skilled problem solvers who figured out what was wrong with equipment and machinery and fixed them, as well as found ways to improve their performance.

Tinkering is anything but a lost art. Spotting and dissecting … Read the rest

How to Switch Off an Irate Customer


Despite the obnoxious behavior, loud shouting, screeching voices, clenching fists, pointing fingers, red faces and all, most irate customers have a sad message. Most likely they are trying to tell you that they are feeling hurt, ignored, disrespected, unappreciated and unloved.

It’s easy to get flustered or upset when you’re confronted with an angry customer; and, if you don’t know how to respond, you can easily make the situation worse. However, when you respond calmly and with empathy, you can stay in control, and you can defuse the situation in a professional, courteous way. It’s important to know how to … Read the rest

Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?


We’ve all heard the numbers: consumer confidence is down, retail sales are down. And for many of us, the markets we serve are down as well. There is an important relationship to note here. Confidence — an attitude — is down, so sales are down. When confidence is up, sales follow. The principle at work here is this: Our actions follow our attitudes. The relationship between actions and attitudes is so close that the two go hand-in-hand, and our actions can be seen as outward expressions of our attitudes.

Ok, so what does that have to do with you? Here’s … Read the rest

Disruptive Selling: Can It Work for You?


One of the new marketing trends is “disruptive selling.” This is defined as any marketing strategy that is bold enough, unique enough or out of the ordinary enough to create buzz and, consequently, sales. It could be marketing that runs counter to the time of year when competitors are running campaigns or that runs in the opposite direction of other campaigns.

This counter motion results in greater effectiveness and far less cost in terms of time and money.

Launching a successful disruptive marketing or sales program usually follows four basic steps. The first step is to throw out pre-conceived ideas … Read the rest

In Praise of Quieter Communications


Four touch points when it pays to dial‑down your approach

In a world of TV ads that blare, e-mails that SHOUT IN ALL CAPS, and employees who talk when they shou1d listen, consider the advantages of making your customer communications quieter. Here are four touch points I share in my seminars when a strong/silent approach will differentiate you positively in your customers’ hearts and wallets.

  • When Establishing Rapport

You’ve likely heard about the importance of elevator pitches. The idea is that within the first few minutes, you should give your potential customer a synopsis of what you do and what … Read the rest

How to Bring Youth into Your Organization


Almost every industry I talk to these days is struggling with bringing youth in. How do you get them interested in your industry? How do you get them to take you seriously? How do you get them to work hard without thinking they’re entitled to everything without actually having to work for it? Here are some answers.

Step 1: Realize There Are Some Great Millennials Out There

The fact that most of the youngest generation in the workforce seems to be entitled, self-centered, has no work ethic, and expects success overnight is first, not quite as bad as it seems … Read the rest

Explaining the Rep Rationale


Here’s a typical scenario for going to market with independent manufacturers’ representatives that has been heard many times in the past — but it’s one worth repeating.

According to one manufacturer, “We decided to make the move to reps six or seven years ago because it was difficult if not impossible for me to get all around the country meeting customer needs. It just seemed like a natural fit to hire reps and have them work on a commission basis. The reps we ultimately chose to work with were already calling on the customers we served. At the same time … Read the rest

Outdated Computer Systems Play Havoc With the Bottom Line


Assessing technology needs can help businesses stay competitive.

One of the greatest characteristics of computer technology also can be problematic — it’s ever-evolving.

While that’s exciting for techies, it can be a headache for business leaders, whether they are corporate executives or small-business owners.

Businesses periodically need to upgrade or replace creaky computer systems, or risk falling behind their competitors. If they try to muddle through with a cranky jalopy when everyone else moved up to the latest sports car, they may find themselves out of the race for consumer dollars.

One thing companies need to remember is that as … Read the rest

How Vulnerable to Hackers Are Mobile-Payment Apps?


Making a purchase or other payment is not like it used to be.

These days, cash and credit cards aren’t the necessities they once were because alternative-payment options are just a tap or two away on a mobile device through apps such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Square, Levelup, Kash and PayPal.

But just how secure are those mobile-payment apps and who makes sure that the companies behind them are doing all they can to keep your personal data safe?

The Clearing House, an advocacy group owned by the world’s largest commercial banks, is raising those questions and others in … Read the rest

30-Day Termination and the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing


Does 30 Days Really Mean 30 Days?

The poison pill for any independent sales agent that relies on building up and establishing a territory, or booking business, is the dreaded 30-day at will termination provision. Unfortunately, such provisions are found in the great majority of sales agent contracts I see. Is the agent left with any leverage, legally speaking, when the principal complies with such a short termination notice provision? The answer, surprisingly, may be yes!

One doctrine that may override a poison pill provision in an agent’s contract is the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. In … Read the rest

How to Overcome an Unlucky Time in History to Retire


Financial Advisor: Wake Up and Check Your Portfolio in at Least Five Areas

The “Greatest Generation” experienced the burgeoning of government and corporate pension and health-care plans post-World War II, but baby boomers and later generations are facing the severe compromise of those benefits.

While thousands of boomers reach retirement age every day, they will continue to take on more responsibility for providing income for their essential living expenses, such as housing, food and health care.

The changing landscape of retirement financing has the vast majority of baby boomers concerned, yet millions fail to ever meet with a professional to … Read the rest