Offer Subject to Change on 30 Days’ Notice

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My local donut shop once offered a “Buy 11 donuts, get the 12th donut free” punch card. “Terms subject to change on 30 days’ notice.”

A new owner terminated the punch card program. I had nine punches, but it was not a big deal. After all, it was only a donut.

The first Internet Service Provider (ISP) I ever used offered one year of service at a very reasonable price.

Three months into the contract I received notice that my monthly rate was doubling. I wrote to the company’s president: “I still have nine months to run on my one-year contract, so this letter was sent to me in error.”

More than two decades later I am still mad about his reply: “I sold my company and the new owners have new rates. As you can see your contract is subject to change on 30 days’ notice.”

Replacing my ISP was such a huge hassle that I ended up eating the difference. This was a bigger deal than just a donut, so I started paying more attention to “subject to change on 30 days’ notice.”

Most reps I know have a horror story about a big order and a “subject to change on 30 days’ notice” rep agreement. They had signed a contract with a manufacturer whose character was beyond reproach, but later faced a new owner eager to find a way to avoid paying commission on a very large order.

That’s why many reps now only accept agreements with extended post-termination commission or Life of Part/Life of Program (LOP/LOP) language. After investing years of work to earn a big order, “subject to change on 30 days’ notice” rep agreements are too big a risk.

And a six-figure or seven-figure commission is not just a donut.

Tips for Manufacturers to Get and Keep Their Reps’ Attention


A common topic of discussion among manufacturers’ sales managers, besides the exploits of their favorite sports team, is how to get their reps’ attention for their company — and keep it.

While there are certainly special or unique methods many manufacturers use (no, I’m not sharing our unique ones here), several tips are worth reviewing to assure your company has best practices in place to garner your reps’ attention.

  • Treat your rep as a partner in the business of sales

Remember, both the rep and manufacturer have value for each other. The “Us and Them” attitude simply will not foster … Read the rest

How Can Manufacturers Get Reps’ Attention?


It’s not unusual for MANA headquarters and Agency Sales to receive phone calls or other communication from manufacturers that are frustrated with their efforts to get reps’ attention. A typical comment follows: “I’m a relatively small manufacturer and am having difficulty locating reps who do not already have a complete line card. What is it that these reps are looking for in a manufacturer?”

Indicative of the fact this is an ongoing concern, last May as a part of its regular teleforum presentations, MANA addressed the subject under the title “How to Get Them to Call You Back.” Jointly conducted … Read the rest

Relying on a Sales Solution Approach


The easy access to product information that customers currently enjoy has led directly to a rise in the effectiveness of a solution sales approach to the industrial safety products market. That’s the view of Alex Williams, who heads The Integral Group, Conroe, Texas.

According to Williams, “As younger generations have taken over the decision-making roles among our customers, we are seeing a shift to more of a solution sales approach. As that shift has taken place, step one for us is still gaining the trust of the customer and having them like you, but after that it boils down to … Read the rest

Letter to the Editor

Response to the January 2020 “MANA Minute”

Hello Charles,

I had a great time reading the Agency Sales magazine and your article about manufacturers’ reps selling software. I wanted to take a minute to answer your question: “Has the time come for reps to embrace selling intangible products, or does the rep business model require physical products?”

I think selling intangibles will continue to grow in everyone’s business as a direct result of Industry 4.0. Take for instance connected devices (IoT) – so a sales rep selling connected products may somehow find the opportunity to sell the connectivity/IoT features tied … Read the rest

The Other Stuff Expansion


I just had a conversation with a sales manager at my last seminar. The gist of it is this: he has so many competing responsibilities, it is difficult to spend time with his sales team. Sound familiar? It should.

I have heard that idea expressed countless times by executives, sales managers and salespeople. In one way or another, sales professionals find themselves increasingly occupied by trivial tasks at the expense of the important ones. Effective sales time management is the greatest challenge facing sales professionals in this turbulent economy.

Other Stuff?

It is an epidemic that is raging unabated in … Read the rest

Why Salespeople Don’t Make More Sales


Things don’t go well for some salespeople. Simply put, they say they want to sell, but their numbers tell a different story. What’s missing? What needs to change?

The answer may rest in how they view their job. We can call it task tunnel vision. It’s common throughout business organizations, including sales, and here’s how to spot it: “That’s not what I’m hired to do. I want to sell. Just leave me alone and let someone else do all that other stuff.”

Whether salespeople recognize it or not, they are like many others who are self-defining when it comes … Read the rest

The Most Important Business Building Questions


If you’ve read many of my articles in the past, you’ve undoubtedly come across my statement that the biggest key to business-building and sales success is activity, or more specifically, activity that leads to sales: prospecting, presenting and closing.

It’s simple: the more people you talk to, the more business you’ll do. Even a blind pig finds corn. If you talk to enough people during the day, you’ll eventually bump into someone who says, “I need what you have,” or “I know someone who needs what you have.” Below are some questions you can use to direct your days activities.… Read the rest

Making the Case for Prospecting


If you’re like most sales professionals, there’s one part of the sales process that you like less than the rest. set out to determine which part of the sales process causes reps to struggle the most, and the survey results were quite interesting:

  • Prospecting 42%
  • Closing 36%
  • Qualifying 22%

Why is prospecting more intimidating and less enjoyed than other parts of the sales process?

Well, to start, let’s look at the definition of prospecting:

“Prospecting is the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that … Read the rest

The Humility Advantage: How Less Ego Creates More Sales


See if this applies to you or the team members in your organization: You’ve been working in your industry for several years. Your responses to requests from customers, prospects and co‑workers are fast and accurate. You know your stuff and your product knowledge is one of your greatest strengths.

If this is the case, then the bad news is that your extensive knowledge may also be one of your greatest weaknesses. The reason — you may be inadvertently coming across as being arrogant and insensitive.

I’m not suggesting that you have a holier-than-thou attitude or that you are unfriendly. It’s … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the 18th 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.

Fred Richardson owned the rep company where George worked, and his call to Jim was prompt. Jim had asked Fred to drop by Jim’s office to discuss the rep system, but Fred had another suggestion.

“If you want to learn about reps,” Fred said, “I’d suggest that you come visit our office. After all,” Fred joked, “when Jane Goodall wanted to study chimpanzees, … Read the rest

Leading and Making a Difference


“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” — Ronald Reagan

Being a leader in customer service (working hard to serve others), generating excitement, innovation, and a focus on continuous improvement, like I teach, creates a culture that’s hard to build otherwise.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, born in Brooklyn, New York to a single mother, was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago. After his aunt died, Ellison dropped out of college and moved to California to work odd jobs for … Read the rest

Learning From Past Experience


As a manufacturer sales manager was approaching his retirement late last year, he let us know how the years he spent working with reps allowed him to appreciate some of the benefits of working with an outsourced sales force.

According to the manufacturer, “When I started close to 40 years ago, there was always the perception among many in my company that reps in general didn’t work all that hard for their commissions. And what did they get in return for not working too hard? Nice, fat commission checks. As I look back over the years, however, I’ve come to … Read the rest

A Tale of Three Squirrels and Their Salesperson Counterparts


It’s been rainy and cool, so the leaves are dropping from the trees, the peak color has passed and it’s time to focus on something else.

Speaking of focus, this morning I was watching three squirrels each doing their thing.

Squirrel #1, who I named Ernest, was finding lots of nuts and burying them. His nest was full and he will reap the benefits of his hard work over the winter.

Squirrels #2 and #3, who I named MT and LayZ, were playing. They were running up and down tree trunks, jumping from limb to limb, running in circles and … Read the rest

Do Not Lose Your Commissions

By and

You just received a representative contract from a potential new principal. The product line looks like a winner. You read the contract. You look at the territory, the commission rate, the length of the contract, and the reasons for early termination. You may also look to see if you are to be compensated if the principal undergoes a change of control. Hopefully, you look to see if there is a non-competition provision that prevents you from selling competitive products while the contract is in effect and after it ends.

Another provision that should be carefully read is the one that … Read the rest

MAC Elects New President, Begins 2020 Luncheons

Manufacturers’ Agents of Cincinnati (MAC) has elected a new president starting July 2020. Mark Hogan of CTQ Systems in Cincinnati replaces Chris Schnetzer, who has served as MAC president since 2014.

Hogan started his Cincinnati-based rep firm, CTQ Systems, in 2017 after a 20-plus-year career as a corporate engineer. CTQ helps customers select optimal automation components from the lines of AMCI, Nexen, Nook, Linmot, Stober, and Zero-Max by partnering with Paul Davis Automation. CTQ represents for marketing automation solutions. Servicing southwest Ohio and the state of Kentucky, CTQ also provides design engineering services and offers 3D printing service. Hogan Read the rest