Punching Above Your Weight Class

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The rep in one of ABC Widget Manufacturing Company’s most important territories retired abruptly. So, ABC Vice President of Sales Sue Smith had a problem. And an opportunity.

Sue used MANA’s RepFinder® database to find candidates to take over the territory.

Several looked like they would be at least as capable as the rep Sue needed to replace. And one of the reps looked like a head-and-shoulders stand‑out.

Fred Jones’ rep firm was a head-and-shoulders stand-out over any other candidate, but all the other manufacturers on Fred’s line card were heavy hitters in Fred’s industry. ABC Widget Manufacturing was more of an up-and-comer. So, to hire Fred, Sue had to figure out how to punch above her weight class and sell Fred on representing ABC.

Sue met with Fred and shared the following:

  • “Our top management is very responsive to our rep council’s recommendations. I can share with you a list of changes and improvements ABC has made that came out of rep council meetings.
  • “We treat our reps like part of the team and members of the family. I have a list of reps in other territories who would be happy to speak with you about us.
  • “And when you’re talking with those reps, here are some topics I hope you will discuss:
    • We communicate quickly and accurately with our reps for information and quote requests as well as any problems that may come up.
    • We ship on time and our quality is excellent, so once you make a sale, you don’t have to think about taking calls from customers with complaints about deliveries or quality.
    • We do not have any house accounts.
    • Whatever it takes, we will always make you look good to your customer.”

Fred signed up to represent ABC and couldn’t be happier that he did! “Yes,” said Fred, “We probably do spend a little more time working on ABC than the commission income strictly justifies, but when a manufacturer treats you right, you just can’t help spending more time on her line.”

The Importance of Mentoring and Learning


Why is this important? We all know the definition of insanity, where we keep doing the same things over and over again and expect the results to change. To change the results, we need to act differently.

We can change in a couple of ways. Go with our gut instinct and hope it turns out okay. The alternative? Get guidance from an experienced person, someone who knows and understands the issue, and use this knowledge and experience to significantly improve results.

What makes this so challenging in today’s world is we are all so busy we don’t have time for … Read the rest

Starting (From Scratch) as a Rep


A desire to make a move from working in a molecular biology laboratory to a career in sales coupled with a fortuitous recommendation from a friend was what propelled Keynae Agnew into a career as an independent manufacturers’ representative.

According to Agnew, who was armed with a degree in biochemistry from Texas A&M University, “A little over 12 years ago a gentleman who had his own one-man rep organization mentioned to a friend of mine that he was looking to hire someone to assist with office work and if the candidate had a science background that would be a plus. … Read the rest

Proven Techniques Improve Supplier Relationships


Relationships between manufacturers’ representatives and their suppliers are rarely static. Those relationships proceed through a life cycle. They are born, often during a period of euphoria. They grow and develop.

A prudent rep is always keenly aware of what stage its relationship is in with each of its suppliers. Implementing proven techniques can help reps grow and optimize relationships with suppliers, reverse decline, and convert the relationship to one of growing sales and profits. Those techniques, although simple, demand attention and energy. Routine implementation of the techniques helps to improve the success and health of a rep.

Measure Value

A … Read the rest

The Most Important Character Traits of Successful Salespeople


We know there are many character traits that determine long-term sales success or failure. That said, I find there are two key traits that really separate the cream of the crop from everyone else.

Trait #1: Extreme Ownership

The most successful salespeople take complete ownership of everything in their life — and I do mean everything. From sales numbers all the way to car accidents, they see themselves as ultimately in control of, and responsible for, anything related to getting their job done and meeting obligations. In this way they are empowered so that when something goes wrong, they can … Read the rest

Fundamentals to Key Account Selling


Almost every professional B2B salesperson comes to grips with one of the challenges of penetrating key accounts. Key accounts are different than the ordinary, and require some more sophisticated skills and strategies. Here are a few fundamentals for effectively penetrating key accounts.

Recognize That Key Accounts Are Different

First of all, they are larger, but that’s only the beginning. Their decision-making processes will be much more complex, and in some cases, highly structured. A product that may, in a smaller account, only need one person’s approval to purchase can require dozens of people to sign off on it in a … Read the rest

Taking Your Customer Service From Cost Center to Profit Center


How many times has one of your customers approached you with an issue or a problem? For instance, “I purchased this product from you and it does not work.” Or, “I thought this product had feature X, but I found out it doesn’t and I want to return it.” Or possibly, “You told me my order would arrive on Wednesday and it came on Friday.”

Situations such as the ones I have described above happen every day in American business. Often, we find ourselves threatened or at least uncomfortable when a customer approaches us with a complaint or some of … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the seventh 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 welcomed the opportunity to adjourn their meeting for lunch. Harold’s arguments all had been logical and Jim could find no flaws in Harold’s reasoning, but Jim could not bring himself to abandon the natural intuition that a commission system was necessary to drive a sales force. By the time the two men returned to Harold’s office, the break had given Jim … Read the rest

Manufacturers — a Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way!


What you don’t know can hurt you. This is especially true when it comes to selling through independent manufacturers’ representatives.

Pro-Active Involvement

Building personal relationships with the reps is much more valuable than you might think. It is obvious that it is good to be friendly and to get along with your reps, but there is much more to a personal relationship with a rep. In some cases it is the owner of the rep firm; in others it is the field salespeople. Or it might be the inside coordinators and customer service people, or even the bookkeeper.

The more … Read the rest

How Meta Roles Boost Your Career


There’s nothing more amazing than the endless incidents of mind-bending foul-ups by otherwise successful companies. Every employee has stories, ranging from miscalculations and costly errors of judgment to downright avoidable mistakes.

It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Years ago, “silos” were a serious issue causing poor communication, confusion, misunderstanding, and counter-productive internal competition.

Then came the “We’re all on the same team” movement that morphed into the “knock down the office walls” movement with everyone having a “desk for the day.” Now, we’ve moved to silos of 2019, with employees donning head phones, sending emails rather than chatting … Read the rest

Create the Love — Talk to Your Customers


Why wouldn’t you love your customer? They’re keeping you in business. It’s up to you to set the stage for some powerful long‑term successful relationships by simply…showing some love.

As in any relationship, the need for conversation, frequent contact, and the personal touch, is the number-one need to forming a successful, long-term relationship. Love is visible. It is what happens when you care.

Creating the Love

In order to gain and keep customers, you’ve got to do more than introduce them to your brand, business or product. You’ve got to make them fall in love with it. Find out what … Read the rest

Kudos to MANA’s Manufacturer Seminar


Following his attendance at MANA’s manufacturer seminar last fall, one manufacturer was thankful that he was able to take corrective action before any damage had been done. According to the manufacturer who was right in the middle of making the move from a direct to an outsourced sales force, “I thought that by making the change I was going to be able to kiss goodbye all the planning and budgeting that I had to do with my directs.”

He noted that when he brought up this subject during the seminar, he learned very quickly that wasn’t the case. “I learned … Read the rest

Facing the Challenges of Choosing a CRM System


[Any number of times Agency Sales magazine has cited the benefits of MANA’s LinkedIn discussion page. What follows is another example of how valuable that resource is for association members. The following article on choosing a CRM system was recently posted there by MANA member Rick Campo.]

In 1992 when I started West-Tech Materials, the only thing people knew about a cloud was that it was in the sky. Working out of my house, as a single-rep operation, monthly I was calculating commissions by hand on a tablet, writing my trip reports on paper and faxing them to principals. I … Read the rest

Non-Compete Language in Sales Rep Agreements


I was working on a sales representation agreement for a client of mine recently involving his representation of an automotive supplier. An issue arose which I thought may be helpful for MANA sales representatives. I will first address some of my general thoughts regarding non-compete agreements for sales reps. I will then address the problem that arose that may be enlightening for MANA members.

General Thoughts

The principal for the sales representation agreement I was working on insisted on a non-compete provision with language that prohibited the sales representative from representing any other principal with competing products during the term … Read the rest

News From MANA’s Board of Directors

October 2017 Agency Sales magazine coverMANA’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Tommy Garnett has been elected to MANA’s Board of Directors. Garnett is president and CEO of MANA member Garnett Component Sales, Inc. (GCS), Wake Forest, North Carolina.

He will fill the 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 his terms on the Board.

Garnett was introduced to the rep world by his father. “I just about … Read the rest

2018 Jess Spoonts — ERA White Pin Scholarship Awarded

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) White Pin Group has announced that Ellen Coan, CPMR, of the Indianapolis-based CC Electro Sales, Inc. is the 2018 recipient of the Jess Spoonts — ERA White Pin Scholarship Award. Coan will receive a $1,000 grant that can be used to fund her continuing education as a professional field sales representative. She was nominated for the honor by White Pin member Matt Cohen, CPMR, of CC Electro Sales, Inc.

To qualify for this award, nominees must be from an ERA member rep firm, must have been involved in ERA activities and leadership roles on the … Read the rest