Join MANA in Austin, Texas, February 25-27!

Austin, Texas

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Good for selling? Yes!

Good for manufacturers’ representative education? Also, yes!

We’ve all heard that the Internet would end face-to-face selling. Yes, it’s changed face-to-face selling, but the overall outlook for manufacturers’ representatives remains strong.

We’ve also heard that the Internet would end face-to-face manufacturers’ representative education. And for a while, face-to-face manufacturers’ representative educational programs did suffer a slump.

But high-quality, face-to-face education is making a comeback, and MANA has joined with the Electronics Representative Association (ERA, to give you an unparalleled opportunity to participate in manufacturers’ representative education on February 25-27, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

ERA conference “Tools of Our TradeThe educational session at ERA’s 49th Management and Marketing Conference promises to bring you the kind of company-changing ideas that make the difference between being an average rep firm and a world-class rep firm. And by special arrangement, 25 attendee slots at ERA’s conference have been reserved for MANA members.

The theme of this year’s ERA conference is “Tools of Our Trade — Constructing a Successful Future.” Says ERA Conference Committee Chair Rick LaPiana, the conference focuses on “Tools to help you, your team and your company be more productive and increase your importance to your business partners while sharing your success with them.” Monday morning will include a breakout session with MANA’s CEO.

To view complete details and register for the conference, visit and click on the “ERA Conference” button.

The 25 MANA-member attendee slots and rooms at the conference hotel will go quickly, so please visit the ERA website and register soon. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tried to register too late and all 25 slots were gone?

E-mail Susan Strouse and ask to be put on the waiting list for cancellations, added slots, and alternate programming.

“Fish Got to Swim and Birds Got to Fly” — Billie Holiday


To which I would add, salespeople have got to sell.

It’s surprising how much people do the things they’re paid to do during their work day long after their work day ends. Teachers use their skills to teach outside the curriculum they’re paid to teach, engineers invent things in industries outside their employers’ markets, and salespeople sell ideas and concepts that have been important to them personally or to their careers.

This is how I first learned about MANA 27 years ago, and why I’ve promoted MANA membership to other reps ever since.

Let’s go back 27 years to how … Read the rest

Maximizing the Benefits of MANA Membership


During the course of an informal lunch with a 45-year member of MANA early this fall, he related that one of the keys to his agency’s continued success was the willingness of the agency staff to continually make use of the products and services that association membership provided.

According to the agency president, “Over the more than four decades we’ve been members, I’d maintain that we’ve gotten more than our membership dues back. But, it’s only because we took advantage of what is offered.

“We determined long ago that we wanted much more than just a MANA decal or membership … Read the rest

Update Your Toolbox at ERA’s 2018 Conference!


As you have read earlier of this month’s issue of Agency Sales magazine, the Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) has invited MANA members to register for an excellent representative education program at ERA’s Management and Marketing Conference, February 25-27, 2018. Space in the conference and at the conference hotel are very limited, please visit and click on “ERA Conference” for full details.

In this article ERA Conference Committee Chair Rick LaPiana shares his enthusiasm for what promises to be an outstanding representative educational opportunity.

To my fellow reps:
My message is twofold but very straightforward. The rep sales model has
Read the rest

Reps as Pioneers

Earlier this year, Agency Sales focused on the importance of reps communicating with their principals regarding the importance of having existing business in a territory before they take on a line. That discussion obviously struck a chord with one of our readers as the following letter and subsequent conversation shows.

Letter to the Editor

I would like to take this opportunity to formally compliment you and all the contributors to Agency Sales for the high quality of your publication. In my mind the August 2017 issue was exceptional inasmuch as it devoted much of its content to the subject of … Read the rest

They (Good Principals) Are Looking


Are you ready to compete for the line?

In one of Charley Cohon’s most recent “Three‑Minute Business School for Representatives and Manufacturers,” he tells a story about a sales manager looking to set up a national rep network.

It is a good story with several good examples of “things to do,” but several other points need to be made.

A thoroughly professional rep firm needs to look at the market situation through very disciplined glasses. In order to be ready, remember: When preparation meets opportunity — the definition of luck! A rep firm in today’s marketplace has to have a … Read the rest

Tips for Working With Millennials


In the November issue of Agency Sales, the subject of dealing with the Millennial generation in the work force was explored. Continuing that discussion, the following are several strategies to employ in order to better communicate instruction and content to that younger generation.

1. Set Clear Learning Objectives

Tell them what you’re going to teach them and why. Effective learning is all about context. Sure, I’ll learn something if you force it on me. But without understanding how it impacts the environment and how my doing it impacts others, I have little investment in the outcome.

2. Teach Them Read the rest

The Reputable Rep: Success in Sales and Life


This month’s article is the sixth in a serialization of the author’s life and career as an independent manufacturers’ representative.

Reprinted with permission from The Reputable Rep, Success in Sales and Life, by Sig Schmalhofer.

Sales by Segment

New Construction

The products installed in residential and commercial projects travel a similar route. They are manufactured, sold through a network of factory salespeople and or manufacturers’ reps to wholesale distributors, and ultimately to contractors who install them. The competition is fierce. There are many people that influence product decisions. Price is always an important factor, but is not the only … Read the rest

Building Your Sales Machine


The “how-to” behind building a highly effective, competition-dominating, sales juggernaut is actually fairly simple.

What isn’t simple is executing the steps and sticking to the plan. The dedication and resolve necessary to start and complete the process is where the majority of people fail. That said, if you’re ready to skyrocket sales in your organization, here are the steps to get it done.

Super-Intense Sales Training

The most important tool a salesperson can have in their arsenal is great sales skills. Yet, while most organizations spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new producer, send them … Read the rest

Empowerment — Your Most Valuable Tool!


More and more companies are waking up to the fact that giving employees more power and responsibility can bring huge benefits for both the company and its workers.

Employee empowerment may be the most underutilized tool in all of customer service. Give employees the authority to take action. No one should have to go “higher up” to get permission to help a customer. Empower everyone to break the rules thus allowing employees to have input and control over their work.

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here.” Actually that should be the … Read the rest

Sales Pitches That Don’t Sell


Sales pitches are shortcuts that save time and don’t require thinking. They’re the stock-in-trade of salespeople, rolling off the tongue easily and unconsciously. They once worked well with customers, but not so much today.

Here are some of them:

  • “How Can I Help You?”

This one gets top billing on the list, and deservedly so. It’s leftover from the last century, when customers needed assistance and relied on salespeople and marketers, as well as the iconic Sears catalog, to point them in the right direction, followed by the ubiquitous shopping mall. While the former is long gone, the latter is … Read the rest

Remembering MANA’s History

Reviving Salesmanship
MANA 70th Anniversary

By P. Edwin Thomas, Executive Secretary

Reprinted from December 1949 The AGENT and Representative magazine

Decadence in the art of salesmanship was blamed recently by a prominent banker for business apathy. True salesmanship, it was claimed, consists chiefly in service to the consumer, not in persuasive argument or persistent solicitation. It calls for study and skill in human relations, not taking advantage of unwise impulses and a reckless itch to spend.

This banker concluded by suggesting that intelligent advertising, common courtesy, knowledge of the product and cultivation of long-range “repeat trade” will work wonders with many a faltering … Read the rest

Sometimes Slower Is Better


While begrudgingly acknowledging the benefits of “shared territorial development” fees, one manufacturer bemoaned the fact that such agreements can put him in an untenable financial position.

Here’s how he stated his predicament: “I’m in the process of making the move from a direct to an outsourced sales staff. As I’m progressing with locating and hopefully signing independent reps, more and more I’m encountering those who require a fee or some sort of retainer since I don’t have any sizeable business in their territory.

“On the one hand, I recognize why they ask for such fees. Their time in the field … Read the rest

7 Habits of Super‑Successful Entrepreneurs


What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur in today’s white-hot environment? It seems it gets tougher and tougher as more people are competing for the same scarce resource called time from prospective buyers. It used to be easy. You could produce an article, or better yet, a video, and it would grab attention.

A while back I had the opportunity to meet and introduce former heavyweight champion of the world, George Foreman, as he spoke before 2,100 people attending live and about 50,000 via the Internet. He is an entrepreneur who teaches people to overcome problems and keep … Read the rest

Negotiating Win-Win Contracts


A manufacturers’ representative calls me. He tells me that he began representing a manufacturer when it started 25 years ago. Joe had called him that morning. Joe is the son of good old Marty, the founder and owner of the company. Joe is fresh out of business school, and decided to take the company’s sales operations direct.

“I gave this company 25 years of my life, I took it from nothing to five million a year in my territory and now they’re firing me. How can they do that?”

I asked him to e-mail me his representative agreement and he … Read the rest

When Being in the Top Percentile Doesn’t Pay


Would you like to have your investment portfolio or your workplace 401(k) managed by the top 15% of all money managers in the world?

It’s a serious question: Having a professional who is considered to be in the top 15 out of 100 money managers in the world managing your money.

When I ask this question most investors say, “Sure, that would be great! How can I do this?”

The answer is very simple. Just invest in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500). In the past 14 years the S&P 500 beats 85% of all money managers out … Read the rest

Eric Yaeger Joins the Team at Henry M. Wood Company

The team at Henry M. Wood Company is pleased to announce the addition of a new territory manager for western Kentucky and southwest Indiana. Eric Yaeger has hit the ground running effective August 1, 2017, and brings a wealth of experience to our team.

Yaeger earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech. He has 17 years of comprehensive sales experience; he has worked as an account manager for B.W. Rogers (a division of Kaman) as well as at Grainger Industrial Supply. He also spent several years working as a civil project engineer.

He has worked … Read the rest