Who Says 2020 Will Be a Great Year for Reps?


Manufacturers and reps both say 2020 looks great for reps, according to MANA’s second annual member survey.


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What do manufacturers say?

  • 84% increased or maintained the number of rep firms they used last year.
  • 90% plan to increase or maintain the number of rep firms they use next year.

What do reps say?

  • 79% increased or maintained the number of lines on their line card last year.
  • 90% expect to increase or maintain the number of lines on their line card next year.
  • 87% expect to increase or maintain their company’s revenue next year.
  • 88% expect to increase or maintain their company’s profits next year.

Will all reps benefit equally?

No, say manufacturers, who report they are increasingly selective when they search for reps. To even get on the list to be interviewed, top manufacturers say reps must:

  • Regularly update their MANA member profile.
  • List a professional e-mail address in their MANA member profile.
    • AOL, Yahoo, and even Gmail accounts can hurt your chances.
    • E-mail addresses like sales@repcompany.com also can hurt your chances. Manufacturers want to contact a specific person, not a department. Anything less than jsmith@repcompany.com may bump you off the list of reps to be contacted.
  • List a professionally created website in their MANA member profile.
    • Manufacturers say that websites that do not include the rep’s line card make them assume that rep has something to hide — so that rep won’t be contacted for an interview.

For reps with MANA member profiles that hit the sweet spot manufacturers seek, 2020 looks like a banner year. Want help checking your MANA profile to be sure it sparkles? Contact MANA VP & GM Jerry Leth at jleth@manaonline.org or me at ccohon@manaonline.org. And grab your share of banner year profits in 2020!

Full details of the survey are available to MANA members. Request a copy at ccohon@manaonline.org.

Your Top Line Was Just Acquired or Acquired Another Company


Management likes to use the word “merged.”

This scenario has played out for me several times, and I’m pleased to say I’ve benefited more than I’ve lost — the key is being proactive. Yes, sometimes you will lose; it’s just the way the cards play out. Rather than simply giving up, I suggest you come up with a strategy and work the plan.

First, the assessment: did the merged company use manufacturers’ representatives or, worse yet, a direct sales force? If it’s a direct sales force, you may want to consider visiting the management team to discuss the advantages of … Read the rest

How to Create a Strategic Sales Territory Plan in Four Steps


Putting a strategic sales territory plan into place can help you drive revenue, cut costs, increase productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. But what exactly does “sales territory plan” mean? And how do you implement one?

Traditionally, a sales territory plan is the specific way you — a sales representative — serve the clients and prospects within a specific geographical area. Think of the ideal plan as a playbook containing specific objectives, strategies, and action items custom-tailored for a specific subset of customers. It involves research, data analytics, critical-thinking, and goal-setting.

If it sounds complicated, don’t worry — we are going … Read the rest

New HRA Rules Allow Employers to Reimburse for Individual Health Plans in 2020


HRA’s or Health Reimbursement Arrangements have been around for decades. New regulations have just been released for Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Accounts (ICHRA) and Excepted Benefits Health Reimbursement Accounts (EBHRA). Both are designed to allow employers to reimburse employees for their qualified health care expenses.

This new law would take effect on January 1, 2020. Employers would enjoy preferred tax treatment of these plans and employees would receive the reimbursements without creating a taxable event.

Employers would utilize an ICHRA, a newly defined Health Reimbursement Arrangement to reimburse employees for their qualified health insurance premiums and any scheduled medical expenses. … Read the rest

Persistence Pays Off for Phoenix Rep


Bob Foster is not easily dissuaded from his plans and dreams. That’s something that is quickly evident as he describes his initial approach to the world of being an independent manufacturers’ representative.

According to Foster who heads Foster Engineered Products, Phoenix, Arizona, “Years ago when I was the project engineer on a job site for a construction company, I was not familiar with reps or what a rep agency was. I was working the midnight shift on a hospital project and had to quickly rebuild some interior walls. I was given the contact information of the local representative of the … Read the rest

Keep Your Sales From Running Out of Gas


Too many salespeople find themselves running on fumes when it comes to prospects. “I get up every morning and ask myself the same question: Who am I going to talk to today?” asked a life insurance salesperson who had been in the business for 30 years. He’s far from alone.

Closing sales is the goal, but that takes keeping the prospect tank full of gas. So, what can you do about it? If you go to the supermarket, there’s someone giving away free samples. If you watch what’s going on, some of those taking samples buy the product; it’s the … Read the rest

How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today


Big ones, little ones, sharp ones, and stubborn ones. I was pulling weeds from the garden when it became crystal clear to me.

The various weeds were like the many types of opportunities in most sales pipelines. Big ones, little ones, those that hurt (we’re behind the competition) and those who are stubborn (they aren’t sharing important information). The flowers in the garden are allowed to remain and are nurtured with sun, water and plant food. Similarly, we must leave and nurture the opportunities that will grow and produce sales, and weed out the undesirable opportunities that distract us from … Read the rest

The Benefits of Listening


Franklin Roosevelt became convinced that people were so excited to meet him in person that they didn’t pay attention to what he actually said. So, he tried an experiment.

As he greeted people during a White House reception, he smiled and told each of them quietly, “I murdered my grandmother yesterday afternoon.” As he suspected, everyone in line responded with something like, “That’s great, Mr. President,” or “I’m glad to hear it, Mr. President.” This happened, until the last person in line, the ambassador from Bolivia. The ambassador hesitated and then whispered back, “Well sir, she must have deserved it.”… Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the 14th 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.

Maria Gonzales was a welcoming and gracious host. She ushered Jim into her conference room, invited him to help himself from the coffee pot, and sat down to hear his concerns. Maria always had been very direct with her advice and suggestions, so Jim didn’t pull any punches when he detailed the flaw in their salaried sales force system and asked her if … Read the rest

How to Attract New Business Opportunities by Writing Articles


If you’re looking for a way to attract new business, you might consider media exposure (getting quoted in periodicals, websites, radio talk shows, and television news). Such exposure is valuable and helps attract prospects.

However, it’s awfully difficult to earn media quotes. That’s why more and more professionals are blogging and submitting articles to media outlets. There’s great opportunity here. Every major city has numerous media organizations, and many of these depend on outside writers to supply the content.

The writer Robert Benchley once said, “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece, per word or perhaps.” … Read the rest

Being Seduced Into Fitting In


Since the day you were born you have been seduced, scammed and brainwashed into fitting in, following the rules and giving a day’s work for a day’s pay. From the crib to the playground to the college campus to the job site, the educated, hardworking masses are still doing what they’re told. Are you one of them?

In my book, Moving Up, I said, “I’m tired of watching life pass by the millions of talented employees and future business owners who — for whatever reason — don’t connect their passion with their success. Life happens to all of us and … Read the rest

The Move From Manufacturer to Rep


“The view is quite a bit different from the other side of the desk.”

That’s how one new rep who had just recently retired from a manufacturing company described her initiation to the world of reps. “After my company was sold to another much larger firm, I decided it was time for me to make a change. During the course of 23 years with the manufacturer, I had climbed the ladder from outside sales to a regional manager’s slot. When my company was sold, the whole culture of the place changed, and it just wasn’t where I wanted to be … Read the rest

Adopting a Rep‑Specific CRM Spurs Revenue Growth


There’s no time like the present to set new goals. Accompanying growth goals is the desire to increase efficiencies, and one prominent way to do that is by following proven practices from other industries and making the shift from paper and spreadsheets to a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This move to cloud-based digital data provides reps easy access to historical information, current project status, and contact details anytime, anywhere via their mobile devices.

Because independent manufacturers’ rep agencies typically don’t have an IT resource, implementing a software solution can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are now plug-and-play solutions for optimizing … Read the rest

Sometimes a Bad Contract Can Be a Good Thing


I recently met with two clients of mine who worked together in a small sales rep agency. Their principal wanted them to start using a customer relationship management (CRM) software program to record sales contacts and myriad other information. They had both read my book and know that I caution salespeople about providing all their sales contacts and other details of their day-to-day work to their principal because such detailed information can be used to lay the foundation for their principal to go direct. In fact, one of the chapters in my book is entitled “Beware of the New Sales … Read the rest

Letter to the Editor

MCS has been serving the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina territory since 1998, and I have been a MANA member since 2008.

My MANA membership has been proven to be especially valuable just recently.

I just picked up a new line from an ad in Agency Sales magazine, and I also have connected with MANA-member attorney Leslie Marell for some legal needs.

Mark Peavey
Microwave Component Sources
www.go4mcs.com… Read the rest

McCullough, Watson Honored — AIM/R Inducts Two Into Hall of Fame

The success of any business or organization doesn’t just hinge on one person. Rather, it can usually be traced back to the contributions of many. Today’s AIM/R members wanted a way to honor the dedication and efforts made by members who came before them — especially those who drove the group’s inception and helped build a strong foundation.

In 2015, AIM/R established a Hall of Fame to formally recognize — and memorialize — all of those contributions. Fourteen have already been honored, and two more were inducted last week at the group’s 47th Annual Conference in Orlando. During the awards … Read the rest

Marine Biology Major Awarded $2,500 Scholarship

The National Marine Representatives Association (NMRA) awarded its 2019 NMRA Maritime Trades Scholarship of $2,500 to Kennedy Peirson of Villas, New Jersey. The scholarship was established in 2008 for students pursuing an education that leads to a career in the maritime trades.

A recent graduate of Cape May County Technical High School, Peirson will be attending the University of Tampa this fall to pursue a degree in marine biology. Having learned about the vital importance of coral reef ecosystems and the threats facing them, she already has a career trajectory. “I want to become someone who works to find solutions … Read the rest