“If You Say You Sell Everything to Everybody Everywhere, You Sell Nothing to Anybody Anywhere.”


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Here’s how one manufacturer explained it.*
“We find lots of good candidates to represent our line in MANA’s RepFinder® database.

“But once in a while we also find a rep member profile that is a real turn-off. It’s what I call the ‘I sell everything to everybody everywhere’ profile.

“One turn-off is when the rep claims to sell every one of the RepFinder’s 100+ product categories. Everything from Advertising Specialties to Veterinary supplies.

“Great rep firms focus on a few key markets and have great relationships with decision-makers in those markets. A rep who claims to sell in every market has no focus and will never get an interview to rep our line.

“Sometimes it gets even worse. Sometimes the rep claims to sell all of the product categories in all 50 states, and perhaps even in Canada and Europe. A pretty bold claim for a rep firm with just one or two salespeople.

“That’s why I said, ‘If you say you sell everything to everybody everywhere, you sell nothing to anybody anywhere.”

Want to be sure your MANA rep member profile isn’t a turn-off? Keep these rules in mind and update your MANA member profile today:

  • Manufacturers look for reps with focus. Choose only categories where your rep firm really shines.
  • Choose the product categories you sell, not the markets you sell to. If you sell castings to the pump industry, choose “castings” not “pumps.”
  • Your sales territory should make sense compared to the number of your firm’s salespeople.
  • Update your MANA member profile annually. Starting soon, manufacturers will be able to see if a profile has gone untended for more than year.
  • Seventy-seven percent of MANA rep members have a website. Don’t be one of the 23 percent who don’t.

Update your profile today in the member area of www.MANAonline.org.

Sound like too much trouble? Schedule a free telephone profile coaching session with Jerry Leth or with me. We’ll walk through the steps together.

Let manufacturers know that your rep firm’s profile says what you do, and you’ll do what it says. Update your MANA member profile today!

* Comments from more than one manufacturer have been combined and edited for clarity and brevity.

Reps Remain Hungry for Training From Their Principals


I have been to so many manufacturer training sessions that the phrase, “Thank you for coming, we understand that time is your most precious asset” is ingrained in me.

I can’t disagree with that statement; however, I believe principals and their reps can use this as an excuse as to why not to get together for anything.

As an independent manufacturers’ rep, I always have an appetite to train further and to become the best possible rep when it comes to product knowledge and business acumen. I expect and appreciate training from my principals, but I also love to pay … Read the rest

Reps’ Hunger for Training Remains a Constant


Earlier this year a MANA member reaffirmed the long-held belief of this association that reps continually seek the training needed to succeed when he said, “As the rep considers the task being assigned, the hope is that you have really good principals in those situations where you don’t necessarily have the skill set to perform the function. Your message to the manufacturer should be that ‘We really believe in this but we need your help in terms of training.’ The training in question could be provided through your principal’s internal personnel. The best situation would be that your principals would

Read the rest

Making It
“A League of Their Own”


As detailed in the 1992 film A League of Their Own, when men were shipped overseas to do battle during World War II a number of the jobs that were left vacant because of their absence were filled by women. Hardly exempt from that predicament was the world of baseball. In the 1940s the owners of baseball teams, not wanting the sport to be dormant indefinitely, decided to form teams with women. As a result, scouts were sent across the country to recruit women athletes to populate a four-team league.

A bit of a recollection of that time took place … Read the rest

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle


Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time. If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up … Read the rest

Getting the Fish on the Line


How to get prospects to find you.

Twenty years ago, salespeople were expected to get in front of prospects. Today, those doors are sealed shut. Voice mail and e-mail messages are ignored. If all that isn’t enough, few customers are willing to stick their neck out and make referrals.

All of which makes prospecting frustrating and, unfortunately, bordering on useless. No wonder salespeople across the board plead for leads and, hoping to get lucky, keep their fingers crossed.

If you’re looking for an easy, quick way to find prospects, forget it. No matter what anyone may say, it doesn’t exist. … Read the rest

Follow the Tried‑and-True Path to Sales Success


Avoid Sales Gimmicks

Over the past week I’ve been inundated with e-mails for webinars, classes and courses telling me that sales and business building is easy. They claim that you don’t have to work hard, just listen to the webinar and you’ll get the magic bullet to working a fraction of the hours you’re currently working while closing 90 percent of the people you talk to. Oh, and don’t worry about the fear and discomfort that usually stop you; with their secret formula those will magically disappear. It will be all sunshine and rainbows.

Unfortunately people still fall for schemes … Read the rest

Salespeople: Inspect What You Expect!


During the summer they dig up streets, repave roads, and repair bridges. That leads to epic traffic jams, long commutes and tremendous amounts of frustration. And you’re late! I’ve been doing my best impression of the digging, without the paving and repairing. Several of my recent articles have been based on Objective Management Group’s (OMG) data from the evaluations of 1.8-million sales professionals, and like the road work, we’re gonna continue to dig!

In this article, we will look to determine whether there is a correlation between sales percentile, sales pipeline, and sales performance.

OMG includes a pipeline analysis as … Read the rest

Sales Managers’ Common Mistakes


In most organizations, sales managers are the essential bridge between the company’s sales goals and the realization of those goals. The gritty day-to-day interactions between the salespeople and their customers are frequently filtered through the perspective of a sales manager on their way up the ladder. The aspirations and strategies of the company’s management must be imprinted by the realism of the sales manager as they come down from above. Sales managers are the conductors who carefully orchestrate the tentative entanglement of the salespeople with their management.

It’s an incredibly important and difficult job. Unfortunately, it is often the most … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the second 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 in the member area of MANA’s website.

Jim had hoped that Buchanan’s enthusiasm for his call-forwarding idea would catapult him into contention for Edgeworth’s old job, but if that was Buchanan’s intent, he was keeping his cards pretty close to his vest. The only hint Jim got that Buchanan was thinking of him as a manager was when Buchanan tapped him to stand in for Edgeworth at a meeting of

Read the rest

How to Really Annoy Your Customers


First let me clarify the value of quality service. I believe that great service retains the customers you already have, attracts more customers, and develops a reputation that encourages customers to do business with you in the future.

Are You Guilty of the Following Customer Service Crimes?

  • Telephone torture

Too many firms worship at the altar of IVR: Push two for English, four for Spanish, push six if you want etc. and push eight to go to be ignored. For years I have been saying this is the most expensive piece of technology you will ever buy and you will … Read the rest

Proactive Communication Saves the Day


A manufacturer recently related to Agency Sales magazine how when one of his best performing reps erred in a personnel decision, a potentially disastrous situation was quickly defused.

Here’s how he described what happened: “A one-man operation that I’d describe as one of our very best reps had reached a growth point where he had to hire another rep to take some of the load off himself. Unfortunately, he made the wrong decision. From the first day the new rep started working, there was a falloff in performance from the rep firm. We noticed it right away when we didn’t … Read the rest

Be Relevant in Relationship Marketing — for Crying Out Loud!


Stop it already! I don’t have time for yet another blog, news story, article, podcast, video on the Net, social networking meeting, blah, blah, blah. Yikes! I am inundated with so many choices that it drives me nuts.

Maybe you can relate.

We’re all swamped with so many things going on. Your customers are in the same place. They are swamped and can’t keep up with all the new information. Then you, as an aspiring new vendor of theirs, come bouncing in the door with your new Wonder Widget and they can’t handle any more. You call it rejection. They … Read the rest

Sub-Representative Contracts: Ensure Compatibility With Your Principal Agreements


Contract Templates:
One Size Does Not Fit All

When using contract templates, sales agencies tend to think of them as one size fits all: Just insert the agency’s name, the other party’s name, the effective date, names in the signature blocks, and voila! You’ve created a ready-to-sign contract!

If Only It Worked That Way!

Contract templates are valuable; they address the issues important to a sales agency and incorporate “time-tested” language that defines what happens in case of a legal dispute.

However, the very definition of a “template” is that it is a standard form; and when one ponders this, … Read the rest

Coatney Sales Adds Rep to Mid‑South Region

Aaron Johns has joined Fremont, Indiana-based, Coatney Sales, Inc., as a sales representative for Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The independent manufacturers’ rep group specializes in OEM and aftermarket marine, RV, trailer, specialty vehicle, power sports, and sporting goods.

With a strong background in sales and engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Missouri State University, Johns is an ideal match for Coatney Sales. Most recently, he was regional sales manager for Moeller Marine. Prior, he worked for Johnston Industrial Supply and North American Composites. Active in his community, he serves on his local school board and volunteers … Read the rest