Important Lesson From World‑Renowned Sales Consultant, Coach, Speaker, Influencer, and Best-Selling Author


© John Takai |

Today a book arrived in the mail. It was written by a “world-renowned sales consultant, coach, speaker, influencer, and best-selling author,” according to the press release that came with the book.

Very quickly, it became obvious that this book illustrated three points worth sharing with MANA members — but not points the author intended.

1. One over-the-top, unsupported claim casts doubt on every other claim you make.

Tony Robbins could claim to be world-renowned without offering supporting evidence. But the author was not Tony Robbins. If you are not a household name and make an unsupported claim to be world-renowned, every other claim you make is tainted.

Reps know that their livelihoods depend on credibility with their customers and principals. We don’t make claims unless we can back them up.

2. Prospective customers don’t appreciate receiving a homework assignment.

A 240-page book and an 8-page press arriving in the mail looks to me like a homework assignment. If the book includes some genuinely unique insights, share a few bullet points in a short note, don’t expect me to search a 240-page book to find them.

Reps know that a brain-dump of all their product’s specifications does not win customers. A short individualized presentation that identifies the specific benefits that particular customer will value is the way reps close orders.

3. You have only seconds to differentiate yourself before losing a prospect’s interest.

I know you have been disappointed by other sales books, but mine is different, claims this author. As claimed by pretty much every other author of every other sales book ever written.

Reps know prospects hear “Our prices are low, our quality is great, and our service is excellent” from every salesperson. So reps do pre-call research to uncover one or two differentiating characteristics of their offering that will be important to this prospect, and leave generalities to the amateurs.

I have never met a rep who was world-renowned. But I have met countless reps who are recognized by customers and principals as the go-to experts in their sales territories. So they are renowned where it counts by the people who matter.

Working With Reps to Develop New Business


So you’re a manufacturer and you want to develop new business, grow your sales, perhaps in a new geographic territory, new industry/market, or maybe you have a new product to launch. What are the factors any good manufacturer should consider to maximize the likelihood of success?

Just like when a manufacturer and rep join forces when they first begin working together, developing new business requires setting realistic expectations. The reasons most often cited by manufacturers and reps alike for representation agreement termination has to do with misunderstood expectations by the two parties involved. When you both get it right up … Read the rest

Enjoying the Family Effort


Armed with an entrepreneurial passion, years of industry experience — not to mention the backing and involvement of his family — two years ago Stephen Ceolin opened his agency doors in Canada and today he couldn’t be happier.

With more than 25 years of industry experience, Ceolin and his agency, Ceolin & Associates, Inc., Orangeville, Ontario, Canada (near Toronto), today provide sales and marketing solutions across Canada for businesses in the retail home improvement and hardware marketplace. In fulfilling that role the agency provides:

  • Full-line representation.
  • National and regional footprints.
  • Marketing campaigns.
  • Retail service.
  • Product knowledge and training.

According to … Read the rest

Tips for Developing New Markets With Reps


“How can I find a high-quality independent manufacturers’ rep in a territory and what can he or she and I do to introduce my product to the marketplace?”

That was the question posed and answered by Hank Bergson earlier this year in the course of one of MANA’s popular and well-attended teleforums. This teleforum, entitled Developing New Markets With Manufacturers’ Representatives, tackled the situation faced by manufacturers and reps when manufacturers seek to introduce a new line or new product into a territory.

At the outset of the discussion Bergson, president of Henry Bergson & Associates, LLC, and the … Read the rest

The Biggest Mistakes Made Managing Salespeople


There are five primary mistakes when it comes to managing salespeople. Almost every organization makes one or two of these, but most make more, many make all five. Each mistake you eliminate will add about 20 percent in additional revenues to the bottom line. That said, if you have and clean up all five, it could lead to an exponential revenue increase of 200 percent or more.

Mistake #1: Having the Wrong Person

This is usually a hiring mistake, though it could be someone who has become complacent over the years and is no longer doing their job. If it’s … Read the rest

The Power of Teaming in Sales


Generally speaking, we learn better and develop better ideas when we work in groups. Human beings are social creatures. Our ability to team up has allowed our species to build amazing structures and advance once-unimaginable technologies.

When two or more people put their heads together and tackle challenging problems, we often end up with amazing innovations. Teams beat individuals.

But those of us who have chosen a career in sales tend to be individualists. Some of us are even considered “lone wolves.”

Now, there are benefits to behaving like an individual when you work in sales. Our profession requires quick … Read the rest

Long-Term Selling


The relationship you build is more important than the pressure close.

“The bonds that unite another person to ourself exist only in our mind.” — Marcel Proust

Do you want to sell more? Sure you do, but the question is, “What price are you willing to pay for your long-term success?” Are you willing to give up instant gratification? Many salespeople are not. Why would you even consider delaying the gratification of a sale, especially if you sell on commission? For your sustained selling success, I believe it is infinitely more valuable to your selling career to put off the … Read the rest

Messing Up on the Job Without Even Knowing It


There’s everything right about looking out for yourself and your career. Right now, with more jobs than people to fill them, it’s easier than ever.

One month in mid-2018, job postings exceeded the number of unemployed by an eye-popping 659,000. With this happening, it’s no surprise that 3.6 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in the first seven months of 2018. This 2.4 percent quit rate was the highest since April 2001.

No one can miss the message: more vacancies and not enough takers to fill them equals better opportunities and higher pay.

But not so fast. All this may … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the tenth 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.

Ruth Anderson sat quietly after reading the memo her husband had asked her to review. When Jim came into the den, Ruth measured her words carefully. “Darling, I can’t disagree with any of your points. I’m wondering, though, how well Buchanan takes constructive criticism. I can’t help thinking about the movie we saw on our honeymoon — remember Jerry Maguire?”

Jim thought back … Read the rest

When Things Don’t Go Your Way


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas Edison

Your journey towards your goal may not be as easy as expected, but the twists and turns you face are what makes it worthwhile. Some of the greatest successes are by the people that dared to fail — but they did not give up!

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing … Read the rest

Publicity to the Rescue


A manufacturer that joined MANA during the last year was looking for a way to support its newly created rep network’s efforts in the field.

Publicity came to the rescue. In researching how best to communicate its message to prospective customers, the manufacturer located a national trade publication devoted to its industry that was more than willing to publish an article on how this company was introducing its niche product to a new market — via independent manufacturers’ representatives. The only restriction was that this had to be a how-to article, not a commercial. The manufacturer jumped at the chance … Read the rest

Five Networking Nuggets “That Guy” Needs to Know


A while back I was attending an annual opening meeting for a marketing group in Orlando, Florida. I love meetings like this where I get to learn about new ideas, listen to great speakers and connect with friends and new acquaintances.

But then, there was “that guy.”

You know the type. This is the kind of guy who thinks a business gathering is all about “getting the word out” about his stuff, what he is doing and what is important to him. Ugh! This guy I met only talked about what he did in his work as a graphic artist. … Read the rest

Accord and Satisfaction: How to Avoid the Surprising Elimination of Your Claims for Unpaid Commissions


The Scenario

You had a good year — you finally got that huge OEM account with AcmeCo qualified and the purchase orders are starting to roll in. You figure your hard work over the past 18 months is finally starting to pay off and you’re looking forward to your well-earned reward.

The problem is your principal is starting to think hard about all those commissions you’re about to make. A little friction is starting to build as your principal seems to be a bit slow in making payments on the new AcmeCo purchase orders, making excuses rather than payments. The … Read the rest

My “Eureka!” Moments in Transferring a Business


Legend has it that Sicily’s King Hiero of Syracuse once commissioned a new royal crown for himself, for which he provided an ample supply of solid gold for the goldsmith to use. When the finished crown arrived, the good king had suspicions that the goldsmith may have used only a portion of the gold provided, keeping the unused portion for himself and adding sterling silver to balance the crown to the correct weight.

To find out if this was true, the king turned to his jack of all trades, Archimedes — the Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer — … Read the rest