You see a punch coming. No time to block it. No time to move out of the way. Now what?
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Lean into the punch. You still get punched, but that punch has not had time to reach the speed and power it would have reached an instant later.
That’s a valuable life lesson, even when no real punches are involved. The more quickly I can respond to a problem, the less time it has to grow. Step into problems before they grow out of control.
True confession: A recent situation tested my commitment to step into problems before they grow. Let me share what I learned.
An email from a member of MANA’s staff had alerted me that a new MANA member was not happy. He had experienced a technical issue while doing a rep search in MANA’s RepFinder® database. The email suggested that he was very unhappy.
When I find out a member is unhappy, I drop what I’m doing and make the call, and that’s what I did. But it was late on a Friday afternoon and he was not available. I have to confess that when he wasn’t available I was relieved, because I was expecting a difficult conversation.
I didn’t want him to think that I hadn’t responded, so I left a voicemail promising to call him Monday morning. Knowing that I had to speak to a very unhappy member first thing Monday morning hung over my head all weekend.
On Monday morning, I wavered. Was the call I tried to make Friday enough of a gesture? Or did I really need to make the call?
I made the call and I’m glad I did. He was very cordial and had two very constructive suggestions that will make the RepFinder® a better tool.
The lesson I learned: Don’t waver. I was glad I stepped into the problem, and when you step into your next problem you will be too.
For the past few months I have been wondering what should I write for the “Editorial in the Field” article? Trying to decide on a single topic relevant to this period of economic instability was proving challenging to say the least. And then I re-read Charles Ingram’s September 2020 editorial, “Please Don’t Read This!” It was validating (and ironic, considering the title) to revisit his insights into the importance of promoting your business — even more so during the slow times.
The coronavirus pandemic affected business worldwide, but what did that mean for manufacturing and manufacturers’ reps? Early in 2020 … Read the rest
Ask Carla Campbell why she became an independent manufacturers’ rep and immediately you get a one-word answer — “Freedom.”
Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but her determination to be her own boss and make her own decisions appears to be the driving force when it came to opening her own agency more than a decade ago. “I know freedom is a fairly broad consideration, but I really wanted to dictate for myself who I called on, when I called on them and how much time I spent traveling. Before I opened my own agency there was always the … Read the rest
The timeliness of a MANAchat late last year couldn’t have been better illustrated than when 52 participants offered their anecdotal input on steps reps can — and should — take to keep their most‑desired principals. Unfortunately, many of their stories related to how principals have slipped from their grasp.
As the conversations evolved from these stories, it became clear that there are some common reasons why reps can lose a principal. For instance, the most commonly cited reasons are these:
- The rep has become too successful and there’s a certain amount of resentment on the part of the manufacturer to
… Read the rest
Have you noticed, that with all of the communications tools we have today, communication is still a top issue for many organizations?
One of the main reasons is that great communication is not about the tools themselves, rather it is about how effectively we leaders use the communication tools we have. The biggest example of this is expectations.
Expectations are how leaders help team members understand what their boss expects on a job — ideally as detailed as possible including what it looks like if expectations are not met. Expectations are about behaviors and activities specially, not job descriptions or … Read the rest
Being average in sales is not difficult. The truth is, 80 to 95 percent of the salespeople in any organization are somewhere between average and bad. If you want to be great and make the big money, while having the biggest positive impact on clients’ lives, and your own, here’s what you need to do.
- You need a morning routine that prepares you for your day.
- You need an evening routine that helps you wind down and get a good night’s sleep.
- You have to see yourself as self-employed.
- You’ve got to push yourself harder than anyone else can possibly
… Read the rest
Prospecting is not just something sales professionals do to fill their pipelines. Prospecting is a mindset, and for the most successful sales pros, it’s a way of life.
If you work in sales, nobody has to tell you that prospecting today is exponentially harder than at any other time in history. Why is that?
Here are four reasons:
- Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
- Products and services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
- Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales
… Read the rest
Every day, each employee you supervise makes hundreds of decisions in order to resolve problems and complete tasks. Most are routine and have been executed many times before. This repetition becomes the mastery that’s necessary to navigate the daily work. Then there are those unexpected obstacles that can disrupt your momentum. We all fear making a wrong decision at times, even though we pretty much knew how to react. Most of us possess the confidence to move on to a successful solution.
Some people, however, struggle to adapt. Some of this apprehension can be attributed to a lack of confidence … Read the rest
Question: Is there a proactive way to implement a program from manufacturers to encourage distributors to have their sales force sell our product instead of another? My intention is to have the salesperson give quotes for our product more frequently.
And how can we appeal to retail users more? Especially ones that are taking bids from competitors that are not represented by our distributor?
Historically, we’ve shown favor to our distributors and given them discounts. Unfortunately, the benefits seem to end up in their gross profits. They have not been passed along to retail. It then appears that we are … Read the rest
In this column I’m going to share some lessons from the farm. Recently, as I was thinking about how I respond in difficult situations, I realized something that I want to share with you.
Growing up as a kid, I worked on the farm. No, that’s not sexy. And no, it’s not brutal. It was ugly. I picked strawberries. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked strawberries, but it’s hard work. The strawberry picking season would start right after school let out in June and through mid-July. Every year, the bus came by to pick me up about 5:30 a.m. … Read the rest
Getting your customers to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem involves everything you do — and everything you choose not to do. It communicates the value and character of your brand; even the little things matter.
The message you send when you handle phone conversations, when you send email messages, the way you conduct business in a meeting, the way you handle complaints, the convenience you offer and the relationship you cultivate with your customers — it’s all part the of message you are sending about your brand.
Your brand resides within the … Read the rest
In the course of a virtual gathering of several manufacturers and reps one manufacturer raised a subject that was important to him, but it was a subject that he admitted that he had come to terms with and understood the rep’s position.
“When I take the time to make joint calls with my reps in the field, I do so with the understanding well ahead of time that while we’re visiting the customer another subject or another manufacturer’s product line is going to crop up. When that occurs, the rep is going to have to take care of business that … Read the rest
Did you ever have a potential customer who should have been excited about doing business with you but seemed reserved? It happened in a weird way for me. The senior managers seated around the boardroom table were excited about their new technology that would disrupt their market and separate them from every competitor.
They had brought me in to help craft their sales message and to eventually train their reps on how to introduce it to their customers. Along with their excitement though, I sensed some tension. So as the vice president of marketing introduces me, my first remark to … Read the rest
Reprinted from April 2017, Agency Sales magazine
My client, an independent sales representative, was named as a defendant in a product liability lawsuit. Admittedly, that’s not the norm, but this article should serve as a cautionary tale to consider issues of product liability, indemnity and insurance when negotiating contracts with your principals.
My client’s rep firm represents manufacturers of commercial office and restaurant furniture. Not particularly dangerous stuff, right?
Her firm solicited an order from a restaurant for the sale of bistro chairs and tables. Five years after the restaurant received the furniture, a restaurant patron took a seat on … Read the rest
Charlie Ingram leaving Eriez after 26 years of accomplishment and service.
Charlie Ingram, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, will retire from Eriez® at the end of 2020, according to President and CEO Lukas Guenthardt. “After 26 years of significant contributions to Eriez, our industry and the Erie community, Charlie has decided to retire and bring to an end his very successful career,” said Guenthardt.
Ingram joined Eriez in 1994 as national sales manager, rising to vice-president of sales & marketing in 2004. According to Guenthardt, Ingram was one of the architects of Eriez’ three-fold growth while he directed … Read the rest
The National Marine Representatives Association (NMRA) used the virtual IBEX platform to host its annual meeting and elect its 2020-2021 officers and board. Each is an independent manufacturers’ sales rep working in the marine market.
Scott Kolodny of ComMar Sales is the NMRA president and Aaron Freeman of Tideline Marketing is vice-president. Mark Goodman of SGL Sales & Marketing was elected treasurer and previous board member Craig Cochran of GSW & Associates is now secretary. Patrick Churchman of Midwest Outdoor Marketing becomes the past president.
Kurt Fromherz of Waters & David Company was elected to the NMRA board of directors … Read the rest
The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) announces that Gerald Newman, a partner in the law firm of Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell & Glazer, LLC, and ERA legal counsel, is the recipient of the ERA Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award was presented to Newman during the ERA mid-year board meeting held virtually on October 29, 2020, in recognition of his service to the electronics industry, manufacturers’ representatives and ERA.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was created to recognize individuals who play an integral role in supporting the manufacturers’ representative model in the electronics industry.
For five decades, Newman has provided outstanding legal support … Read the rest