How Much Do I Owe You?


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It might be the nicest compliment MANA has ever received. And it came to me in the form of a question.

A rep called me to discuss a thorny issue he was having. It was a challenging problem, so we brainstormed potential strategies and solutions for about a half an hour.

By the end of that call we identified a pretty good strategy for the rep to use.

And that’s when the rep asked me the question that was a compliment I never expected.

“Charley, I have had consultation sessions like this with you and also with Jerry Leth in the past, but MANA has never sent me a bill. How much do I owe you?

The question caught me by surprise. Such a nice compliment! It took me a moment to reply.

“Business telephone consultations are a benefit included with your MANA membership,” I explained. “Jerry and I get calls from MANA members facing thorny problems every week. And because Jerry and I have fielded so many of these calls over the years, we’ve both already seen a lot of the problems that give MANA members heartburn.

“As a matter of fact, the problems and solutions that have come out of the consultations we’ve done over the years have given us perspectives and solutions we can bring to bear on problems we hear from reps calling us today.

“Jerry and I can’t give legal advice, but MANA membership does include a legal telephone consultation benefit, where the 23 attorney members of MANA will give MANA members a half-hour complimentary consultation before the clock starts running.

“So the answer to your question is, Jerry and I will always be happy to help you, and there is never a fee when you give us a call. Just keep renewing your MANA membership, and we’ll be here when you need us.”

Market Development Fees


In this issue of Agency Sales appears a report on a MANAchat devoted to the importance of market development fees. While such fees have been in practice for some time either as retainers, draws or some other form of agreement between rep and manufacturer, as time has gone on they’ve become more important for a couple of reasons.

First, consider for a moment the current environment that reps are called upon to work in. As MANA can attest, behavioral and business restrictions evolving from the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a marked increase in the number of manufacturers seeking to … Read the rest

Making a Mark With Special Incentives


photo of Tasha SharpEven the shortest of visits to MANA member Sharp Incentives’ website ( offers a completely understandable explanation of what owner Tasha Sharp’s unique independent manufacturers’ rep firm is and what niche it fills in the marketplace.

To appreciate the role that this agency occupies it’s probably necessary to know that:

  • According to Incentive magazine, businesses in the United States spend $90 billion annually on non-cash incentives.
  • Over the past two decades there has been a significant jump in the number of U.S. businesses using non-cash rewards, rising from just 26 percent of all U.S. businesses in 1996 to 84 percent
Read the rest

The Need to Invest in the Rep’s Efforts


Over the course of four days association members participated in a free-wheeling MANAchat on the subject of developing new markets.

The sessions were entitled “Market Development Fees”:

  • What are they?
  • Why are they necessary?
  • What strategies should you use to convince your prospective principals they need to offer market development fees?
  • How long should such a fee last and how do you determine the amount?
  • Are market development fees mandatory every time you sign a new principal?
  • What do you provide the manufacturer in exchange for the market development fee?

The 53 independent reps who took part in the chats … Read the rest

Working From Home or Confined to Your Home?


For several years now, thousands of professionals have been working from home, so you would think that today’s environment of “stay at home” would be no big deal for those that are already used to working from home.

However, in many ways it is a big deal, because although many worked from home, they still met clients and employees at offices, had meetings outside the home office as well as business lunches (or heck, just any lunch outside the home). Yet now they never leave unless it is essential, such as a grocery run. Then we have the thousands of … Read the rest

Managing Decision Fatigue: Sources-Symptoms-Solutions


You probably know the feeling — it’s mid-afternoon and you’re just tired of thinking. Or maybe you’re in the middle of a meeting and you’re beginning to zone out. Perhaps you’re in the sixth virtual conversation of the day and you’re paying more attention to everyone’s background than you are to the decisions being discussed. Maybe you’re in the supermarket staring at the toothpaste and wondering why all these choices are necessary.

Decision fatigue has become the new drain on today’s daily performance. Truth is, decision fatigue has always been around because it is the result of what happens when … Read the rest

Letter to the Editor

Response to Bob Reiss’ “Just Ask” article which ran in July 2016

The best advice I ever received from Bob was in an article called “Just Ask.” I can’t tell you how many students have told me during and after class that they are going to “pull a Bob Reiss.” To which I always come back and say “Great — but you better do your homework and know when and how to ‘Just Ask.’”

It’s a simple but powerful tool. When done the right way (politely, with sincerity and follow-up), it becomes the best tool in your toolbox. I have … Read the rest

One Thing Leads to Sales Success


The recent pandemic is a possible threat to your sales career but probably not for the reason you think.

If you’ve read my articles in the past, you know that I attribute sales success and failure primarily to activity level. If you make enough calls to talk to enough qualified prospects, and you have at least average sales skills, you’ll make enough sales. If you don’t make enough calls, you won’t make enough sales.

Sales success starts with the math.

  • What’s your annual sales goal?
  • Based upon your average sale, how many sales do you have to make?
  • How many
Read the rest

An Introduction to Business Systems


At its most fundamental level, business is always and only about three things: money, people and systems.

There is a huge body of content revolving around money in business. Lots of books have been written and consultants’ careers advanced in the pursuit of wiser use of money. A whole population of professionals — bookkeepers, accountants and CPAs — have come into practice to deal effectively with money.

When it comes to people as an element in business, there is an equally impressive body of knowledge and infrastructure. Lots of books have been written, YouTube videos created, seminars developed, and consultants’ … Read the rest

The Sales Force — Working With Reps


This is the 26th 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.

“I see your point,” Jim replied. “Two national trade shows probably would bring in a total of 250 sales leads, which typically translates to 25 quote requests. Based on our current hit rate, that would be five new customers. So to be equal in value to two national trade shows, the rep would have to bring in 25 viable quote requests and close … Read the rest

How Presenting Makes Careers


It’s easy to understand why so many otherwise capable people are distressed, anxiety-ridden, and almost paralyzed if they’re called upon to make a presentation — even a friendly audience of three — let alone 300. They often reveal how they feel by starting out with “I only wish I had more time to prepare” or “I’m not really good at public speaking.”

Unfortunately, what follows proves it. It isn’t surprising that with successful presenters the story is different. We view them as possessing leadership capabilities, as well as being committed, competent, and rising stars. As more than one person has … Read the rest

How to Take a Customer From Hell to Heaven in 60 Seconds or Less


Every company makes mistakes that could make them lose customers. I don’t care what business you are in, something will go wrong.

But the smart companies know how to recover a customer and turn them into loyal customers for life.

However, less than two percent of companies use service recovery techniques. That’s really bad. All companies make mistakes. All companies have things go wrong. Many companies and most employees run for cover instead of solving the problem.

The problems are only getting worse thanks to social media. If customers aren’t happy, they’ll post the problem on Twitter and Facebook. They’ll … Read the rest

Looking to Solve Problems


Manufacturers search out and join MANA for a variety of reasons. One manufacturer recently recounted his rationale which was aimed at solving a couple of problems that had cropped up over the years.

According to the manufacturer, “Just as everyone else does, we look at our numbers and we reached a point where we knew we had to do something about our poor performance and shrinking market share. Even if the economy remained constant, we see our share of business getting smaller and smaller. It doesn’t take a genius to come to the conclusion that the way we’ve been conducting … Read the rest

Exploiting Your Online Presence for Business Purposes


“Jeff, I’d like to meet with you, get to know you and pick your brain. Do you have time for lunch next week?”

I periodically get calls that sound just like that. As I’m listening to the caller, I’m Googling that person. I want to know who I’m dealing with and what he or she is all about. This may not be fair, but if nothing or very little pops up after I Google someone, I’m unimpressed. My assumption is that they don’t have much going on; they’re not involved in their profession or community.

It’s safe to assume people … Read the rest

Telecommunications Sales Commission Dispute


The Rep and the Principal

“Byron” is one of the most prolific sales agents of telecommunications products and services in the country. He had previously served as a sales agent for a major publicly traded telecommunications industry leader.

“DCA” is a company that provides telecommunications products and services to customers in several states. Before 2010, DCA was a small company with a few million dollars of annual revenue primarily serving individuals who resided near its primary office location. It had no major corporate customers.

“Karl” and his brother “Sam” founded DCA in the 1990s. Karl and Sam had poured decades … Read the rest

Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC, is now Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer, LLC

The venerable Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC (SFNR) law firm, MANA’s legal counsel and long-time member of MANA’s Legal Forum, recently re-branded as Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer, LLC (SFBBG).

In addition to the new name, SFBBG relocated offices to 300 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60606. Their phone number remains (312) 648-2300. We extend our best wishes to MANA counsel Dan Beederman (, and rep lawyers Gerry Newman ( and Adam Glazer (, and the entire SFBBG team for their continued success!

Visit SFBBG’s website to learn more,… Read the rest

MAC Luncheon on Gaining Clarity Mid- and Post-Covid

Manufacturers’ Agents of Cincinnati (MAC) has restarted their monthly luncheons in a safe and compliant manner. The group kicked off their 49th year in operation with a luncheon at Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati on Friday, September 11.

Scott Brown of FocalPoint Business Coaching spoke on “Gaining Clarity Mid- and Post-Covid.” While Covid was not on any strategic roadmap, the pandemic carries many lessons regarding strengths and opportunities in business.  What companies do with this information could not only improve their product and service short-term but also open up new opportunities to enhance and position business to expand well beyond Covid.… Read the rest