The Beating Pulse of Opportunities MANA’s Female Manufacturers’ Representative Members Are Experiencing

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When I regularly speak to other female sales reps around the country, I can’t help but recognize the real sense of optimism and momentum that has grown out of the connections among female reps in the profession. There is a collective excitement in our conversations as we share solutions to problems and act as sounding boards for each other as we work through common entrepreneurial issues. We also get to celebrate the unique ways we lead our companies and bring value to our principals and customers.

Independent manufacturers’ reps have a chance at leadership roles by becoming part of ownership. … Read the rest

Women Open Their Own Doors to Rep Careers

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The independent rep profession has much to offer to any budding entrepreneur willing to take a chance. But to listen to the participants in a MANA teleforum early this summer, it’s an especially attractive and welcoming career for women.

That was one of the key takeaways from a session entitled “Opening Doors for Women Rep Owners.”

The three participants in the teleforum each offered their view of the profession and stressed that the business opportunities, flexibility, and the opportunity for women to exercise their multi-tasking abilities were especially important.

Participants in the teleforum were:

The Reality of Being a Rep

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When Claudia Cort decided to open her agency doors more than eight years ago she admits that she was aware she was facing a daunting task, but “I never knew it was going to be as hard as it was. I had spoken to other reps ahead of time so I thought I knew what was in store for me, but they never told me how really hard it was going to be.”

Despite that beginning, Cort, Cort Marketing Group, LLC, Eden, Maryland, has prevailed and now the agency, which includes her husband Peter and four sub-reps, serves the kitchen … Read the rest

Bob Died. What Now?

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You picked up the local newspaper and Bob Jones,* a gentleman you have known for years through business, died of a heart attack. Bob had been a good salesman, operated his own rep agency, and you know that he had done well financially. He had a large home, belonged to a nice country club, and had educated his three kids in private schools. You didn’t know too much about his rep agency, but you know he had his business for 30 years. At 64 years old, you would have expected Bob had been looking toward retirement. He had seemed to

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There Is Only One Thing Your Principals Care About — Sales!

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Getting sales means managing the sales force, period.

I recently visited with a rep friend and client who was complaining that his four-person sales force had not delivered significant sales and commission increases for several years.

As we discussed the individual salespeople, there were certainly issues with each of them. But, it also became increasingly clear that my friend, the owner of this supposedly successful independent rep firm, was not functioning in a pro-active manner as sales manager.

There was a glaring weakness in the way he approached his salespeople. Yes, he called them occasionally. He also demanded sales … Read the rest

Letter to the Editor

Words of wisdom I would give:

  • Stay focused and never take “no” for an answer. You never know what that person you are talking to is going through that day and if you try back in a week/month, or so, they’ll probably forget they ever talked to you.
  • Never be too proud to learn from someone else or to ask questions.
  • Remember the only time you fail is by not trying.
  • Always find the positive in every situation you are in.
  • Be resilient, learn from your mistakes.
  • Network, network, network.
  • Always ask if there is anyone else you can talk
  • Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps

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This is the first in a number of articles serializing The Sales Force — Working With Reps by Charles Cohon, MANA’s president and CEO. The entire book may be found on MANA’s website (www.MANAonline.org).

Somewhere, somebody just made a big sale. Was it skill or was it luck?

Any time an order is awarded, the winning salesperson credits success to ability. The loser blames a host of plausible reasons and claims the loss was unavoidable. The winner calls the loser’s reasons excuses. The loser claims a bad break and calls the winner lucky.

How does a sales manager reward the … Read the rest

Salespeople Learn When They’re Listening

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Questions that keep prospects talking.

When asked why salespeople don’t close more sales, a company president answered instantly, “They don’t ask enough questions.” He went on to add, “They’re so focused on getting prospects to buy, they don’t engage them. That takes asking lots of questions.”

He’s onto something important. We’re in such a hurry to get across what we want to say to our prospects that we ignore what they want from us. As it turns out, today’s prospects won’t tolerate such insensitive behavior. They’re gone.

So, where does this leave salespeople? What are they to do if they … Read the rest

Taking Your Sales Performance Up a Notch

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“Selling is more difficult now then it was just a couple of years ago.” Most of the participants in my sales seminars nod solemnly when I make that statement. And then they begin to fidget in their seats when I follow that up with this: “And it will be more difficult next year than it is today.” They become really uncomfortable when I extend that idea: “And it will be increasingly more difficult every year thereafter.”

That’s a sobering truth that we don’t like to face. Yet, just a little bit of reflection will convince us of the likelihood of … Read the rest

Out-Learn Your Competition

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Successful people are obsessed with learning. They out-learn everyone around them. They’re voracious readers. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, and Disney CEO Bob Iger read and learn. They finish newspapers, books, audio books, journals and magazines like Harvard Business Review, Inc., or Forbes while their not-so-committed peers waste their time on worthless entertainment.

I am a huge promoter of reading and learning. All the books I have written, all the seminars I give, all the coaching I do is based on learning. Learning about your industry, learning about yourself, learning about products, learning about your employees and most … Read the rest

Standing Out in the Mind of Your Prospects Isn’t Rocket Science — It’s Neuroscience

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Recently, I was traveling to a speaking engagement to an area of the country I had not been to in several years. When I left the office to head for the airport, I jumped on a conference call with a client and before you know it, I was standing at the security checkpoint at the airport. I never even gave it a second thought. When I arrived at my destination, however, I was really unsure of where I was going. After some mental gymnastics and a quick search on my phone, off I went in my rental car, paying close Read the rest

Keys to a Working Relationship

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In the course of a conversation late this summer, a rep put forth his thoughts on the type of relationship he looks for with his principals.

“I’ve been in this business for more than 30 years and my agency has been in business a little over 50 years. During that period of time, I’ve learned to truly value working with new companies that have a continual supply of new and innovative products. On top of that, I’ve learned that any time I am able to locate a manufacturer that appreciates the synergy that exists between their products and all the … Read the rest

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems

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What the Data Tells Us

I can’t remember a spring where the pollen was worse than in 2018. You go to the car wash and an hour later your beautiful car is covered in yellow crud and you’re out $20. A waste.

Perhaps you have an irrigation system with a rain sensor that tells the controller that your lawn and flower beds don’t need to be watered today because it is pouring outside. Yet, when you look out the window you see that the sprinklers are running despite the existence of a rain sensor. A waste.

Did you ever spend … Read the rest

Protecting Your Contract and Post-Termination Commissions

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When a sales rep receives notice from the principal that the principal is terminating the contract, especially when this notice follows the placement of a sizeable purchase order from a customer before termination or the customer has established a multi-year program of anticipated future purchases that are not submitted as of termination, the sales rep will generally ask his lawyer a series of questions.

Typically, the questions will include, but not be limited to, the three questions below:

  • First, can my principal simply terminate my contract in bad faith to avoid paying me commissions on sales I have already made
  • Read the rest

Nominating Committee Accepts Tommy Garnett Application

MANA’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the Nominating Committee has accepted Tommy Garnett’s application to appear on the January 1, 2019 ballot to run for a seat on MANA’s Board of Directors. Garnett is president & CEO of MANA member Garnett Component Sales, Inc. (GCS), Wake Forest, North Carolina.

This election will fill the Board seat that will become open when Danny Collis, president of Collis Group, Inc., Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, completes his second term of Board service on April 30, 2019. MANA’s Board of Directors is grateful to Collis for his insights and dedication during … Read the rest