Race to QualityBy Charles Cohon
Thank you Chicago!
A record 43 paid attendees turned out for my 2017 manufacturers’ representative business forecast at a joint MANA/ERA breakfast meeting, about double the average turnout.
My forecast: 2017 will be a great year for manufacturers’ representatives. And it will also be a terrible year.
Let me explain.
As CEO of MANA I get a lot of calls from reps and from manufacturers who sell through manufacturers’ representatives. And the single most consistent message I get for 2017 is that when it comes to selling through manufacturers’ representatives, more and more manufacturers have begun to participate in a Race to Quality.
What do I mean by a Race to Quality?
Back in the day, often all you had to do to keep a line was to keep sales up and “don’t do anything wrong.”
Today many manufacturers are starting to set the bar higher. “Not doing anything wrong” is not going to be good enough to keep their lines, they say. Instead, they are looking for manufacturers’ representatives who routinely ask themselves, “What more can I do for my principals?”
For representative firms that constantly enhance and expand their services, this Race to Quality will make 2017 a very good year. They will be hotly pursued by excellent principals who have decided to recruit “Best of Class” representative firms in every territory of their rep network.
For representative firms where managers work only in their business but not on their business, 2017 will be a bad year. The Race to Quality will cost them lines as principals impatient with the status quo recruit replacements for representative firms that have a “this is how we’ve always done it” attitude.
Or, to borrow a metaphor from Wayne Gretzky, 2017 will not be a great year for representative firms who skate to the puck, but it will be a terrific year for reps who can figure out how to skate to where the puck is going to be.
Editor’s Note: If you missed Charley’s presentation you can listen to it as a podcast — your March iToolbox newsletter will include the link.