Well, It Beats the Alternative


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First let me tell you my favorite story about a manufacturer working with reps. I heard it from a sales executive who came across his company’s owner joyously signing rep commission checks.

“Wow, that’s a big one,” he heard the owner say, grinning ear to ear as he signed. “Another biggie,” said the owner, signing enthusiastically.

That sales executive paused at the door of the owner’s office, somewhat puzzled, and posed a question. “I have never seen anyone so happy to sign checks. Why are you so happy about spending your money?”

“Simple,” the owner explained. “These are rep commission checks. Every time I send a rep a dollar, it means I got to keep nine dollars. So, as far as I am concerned, these checks can never be big enough.”

Why Do I Love This Story?

I love repeating a story about a manufacturer who “gets it.” Yes, of course this manufacturer is a MANA member. And while I can’t promise that every MANA manufacturer member gets it, I can promise that manufacturers who “get it” are much more likely to join MANA than manufacturers who don’t.

It celebrates big commission checks. The bigger the better. In a world where reps privately share fears that selling too much may get them fired for earning too large a commission check, it’s great to be able to tell a story where large commission checks are celebrated.

It reminds us that a rep’s commission check is really a rep’s monthly performance review. And that the commission earned by high-performing reps should solidify that rep’s status with the manufacturer rather than being a trigger to review a rep who is “earning too much.”

My Second Favorite Story

It came from a rep responding to a manufacturer’s complaint that the rep’s commission checks were getting too large. That rep’s reply? “Well, don’t you feel like it beats the alternative? My well-earned commission checks could be for selling huge amounts of your competitor’s products instead of for selling huge amounts of yours.”

Education Is an Investment in the Rep‑Manufacturer Partnership


As a manufacturers’ representative, we are tasked with the responsibility of educating our manufacturers as to what we actually do in the field.

The nature of our “Partners in Profit” relationship gives us the opportunity to provide clarity, while managing the manufacturer’s perceptions about what we do and how we perform in the field to achieve our mutual end goal of increasing sales and profits. Additionally, educating our manufacturers about our activities in the field will allow us to identify and further define their expectations, while targeting our efforts toward maintaining our relationship and position as valued professional business partners.… Read the rest

One Rep’s Approach to Educating His Principal


If there’s one constant in every interview Agency Sales conducts with members it’s a question concerning the need for reps to educate their manufacturers as to what they actually do for them in the field.

A failure to perform that function ultimately can lead to some manufacturers making assumptions that all reps do is walk to the mail box each month to collect their commission check.

After he was approached by one of his manufacturers with a request to accept a commission cut on a major account, one MANA member recently reached out to Agency Sales magazine to detail his … Read the rest

Selling Service Works for This Rep


If there’s anything that might set the Mantec agency apart from competitors, it’s the agency’s working philosophy it has embraced when it comes to representing a service provider vs. a typical products principal.

As stated on the agency’s website, “Since its founding in 1976, Mantec has strived to provide both customer and principal with the highest quality products and services available.” Note the inclusion of the word “services” in the agency’s description.

According to agency founder Pete Mann, who founded the Pomfret Center, Connecticut-based agency in 1976, “In 1981 we were approached by a testing laboratory that had no outside … Read the rest

“Fire Me and I Will Sue You.” Avoiding Costly People Mistakes


You have accepted that you made a hiring mistake when you hired Jason just over two years ago.

He is a smart inside salesperson but he complains about everything from the brand of his laptop to the location of the water bottles in the break room. It is impossible to discuss problems with him because he is hyper-sensitive to criticism and defensive. He puts you off whenever you ask for progress reports, blames co-workers when customers complain about an order, and always calls in “sick” on inventory day. You decided to use your “at-will” privilege to end this miserable employment … Read the rest

Small Business Success Tips: Use Creativity on Smaller Projects


When I read the current literature online, in books and through TV interviews, I mostly hear that the best way to develop a new product line or company is to create an item that “disrupts an industry.”

This thinking makes a big number of aspiring entrepreneurs want to be like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who had a great deal of luck going for them. The only common trait in their background was they went to Harvard College and left after their first year.

Your creativity would be more rewarding if you focus it on smaller projects. To illustrate the … Read the rest

Five Self‑Deceptions That Hold Us Back


As human beings, we’re experts at deceiving ourselves, all because it’s so easy for us to think we know more than we do. As a result, we do less than our best work, miss out on opportunities, and mess up our decisions.

To be sure, self-deception is one way we keep ourselves safe. We use it to fend off enemies that would expose us to troublesome situations. No one escapes; we all do it. With self-deception it’s easy to believe the little voice inside us is right.

Although we may picture ourselves as rational human beings who process information objectively, … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the 22st 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.

“There’s just one more point from the MANA specimen budget I’d like to cover,” said William. “It has to do with calculating this typical rep’s average cost per sales call.”

William turned the typical budget report to its second page to reveal a statistical table. “Each of the four salespeople for this typical rep,” William continued, “makes 14 sales calls per week, 50 … Read the rest

My One Key Sales Tip


A couple of weeks ago I was approached to be included in a Sales Hall of Fame publication.

The one thing they requested of me was a short video with my number one sales tip that they could include on the website. My number one sales tip? “No problem,” was my first thought. Then, the more I thought about it, the more of a problem it became. To make a long story bearable, I did finally come up with the “one,” but in the process, I thought of several others too, which you might find helpful.

My Key Sales TipsRead the rest

Power Reps — What? Who? How?


If you associate with power reps, you’ll have marketing and sales power in your territories.

Regardless of industry, all territories have several rep organizations that stand out above the rest. If you are a manufacturer does your line merit the attention of a major rep organization? If not, why not?

What does it cost your manufacturing company to manage your sales program? If you have rep firms that are totally professional with advanced systems and procedures your cost per territory or per substantial customer is less.

How to Beat the Typical Manufacturer Mind-Set, If You Are a Rep

What is … Read the rest

Exploring the Move to Reps


It’s more than gratifying when a manufacturer communicates with MANA and Agency Sales concerning the reasons why they have gravitated to the use of manufacturers’ reps.

That happened recently when the manufacturer of a line of industrial paints and coatings wrote, explaining: “We are exploring the use of reps as a way of filling voids in our marketing coverage. While we are not fully ready to appoint agents at this time we wanted to find out what was available. That was our reason for joining MANA. So far, we have learned that there are plenty of firms and individuals interested … Read the rest

Nurturing Engagement With Remote Employees


Creating a culture of WOW makes a powerful impact on all employees — including the growing number of people who work away from the office.

In 2020 remote work is “normal.” There’s a good chance at least some of your employees work from home, a co-working space, or some other distant location. And while the arrangement has benefits for all parties, the trade-off is that remote workers get far less (if any) face time with leaders and coworkers. This may lead you to wonder: Can you truly engage remote employees? Is it possible to shape a positive company culture that … Read the rest

Beware of the Difference Between “Expiration” and “Termination” in Your Sales Representation Agreement


This article addresses the important distinction between “termination” and “expiration” of a sales representation agreement. I had a case several years ago where this was a central issue.

The Problem

My client in that case was initially represented by an attorney who happened to be a golfing buddy of mine from Detroit Golf Club. Unfortunately, he was a general practitioner and was not very experienced in sales commissions disputes. My friend drafted a notice on behalf of the sales representative to inform the principal of the intention by the sales representative to “terminate” the sales representation agreement. That was the … Read the rest

Postponed. Never Cancelled. AIM/R Annual Conference Rebooked to Fall 2021 — San Diego

Things have changed quite a bit in our communities, countries and world in the past several weeks. Every industry and business is re‑evaluating its next steps, and AIM/R is no different.

AIM/R’s Board of Directors has reviewed and discussed several options for the AIM/R 48th Annual Conference (September 16-19, 2020) in San Diego, California. In so doing, the Board considered many factors, including: participation levels, the economy, consumer confidence, travel restrictions, fiscal responsibility, possible new outbreaks of COVID-19, the availability of speakers and the tenor of both the educational and social programming.

After careful consideration of these and other factors, … Read the rest