Always Take the Mint

image of a mint

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Thirty years ago, a colleague from my rep days shared some valuable advice she got from her mother. “Always take the mint.”

“When somebody offers you a mint, maybe they are just offering to share. Or maybe you have bad breath. You will never know which. So always take the mint.”

That’s great advice. And it applies to more than just breath mints.

Let me share an example. Sometimes manufacturers call to tell me that reps won’t take their line. “Reps don’t understand the great opportunity they are turning down,” or “I emailed hundreds of reps with no takers, they are missing out on making lots of money.”

I always offer to help. “Let’s look at the offer you’re making to reps and see if we can figure out why.”

Most manufacturers are happy to get fresh eyes on their offering, and we find a way to help make their recruiting more effective.

But occasionally there is a manufacturer who won’t take the mint.

“I’ve worked in companies with reps for 20 years. I already know everything there is to know about working with reps.” They didn’t call for advice, they just called to complain.

Did they waste my time? At first, I thought so. But then I realized they had taught me an important lesson.

When someone offers me advice, I always let them make their case.

  • Sometimes the advice will be brilliant. So, I win.
  • Sometimes the advice will be “not brilliant,” but it triggers an idea that I otherwise would not have had. So, I win.
  • Sometimes the advice will be the exact opposite of brilliant. But it reminds me of what to avoid. So, I win.

Turns out my colleague’s mother was even wiser than I realized at the time.

“Always take the mint.”

Proven Tips for Finding the Right Rep


So, you need to find a great rep.
Whether you’re just beginning to establish an independent manufacturers’ sales channel organization or have had one for years, there are some pretty good, well-proven methods for finding great reps to join your sales team. Even our company, Eriez Magnetics, has the need to fill a territory upon occasion, despite our reps’ very lengthy tenures — a 20‑plus year average and several that have been with us over 50 years. Like hiring employees at your own organization, it’s hard work to find the right rep agency with the right fit to represent your
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Rep Stresses Business Fundamentals


Rick Wickizer humorously recalls that rice and beans were a staple on his dinner table when he opened his agency more than a decade ago.

According to Wickizer, Wickizer & Associates, Woodland, Washington, “Thankfully I had some savings and other resources because initially I knew I wasn’t going to make a lot of money.” He couldn’t have been more correct in anticipating a lack of income since he only turned a very modest profit during that first year.

In a nutshell, here’s how Wickizer got to where he is today: During the last recession, after the building industry collapsed, Wickizer … Read the rest

Finding Great Manufacturers’ Representatives


Given the opportunity to compare notes on how best to attract top rep agencies, manufacturers who participated in a MANAchat held nothing back when it came to describing their experiences.

With a working title of “Finding Great Manufacturers’ Representatives,” over the two-day chat 14 manufacturers weighed in with how they found, signed and maintained successful relationships with independent reps.

One of the most effective means employed by one manufacturer was to counsel with some reps that he knew. Here’s how he explained his experience: “I met with some retired reps — reps who knew they weren’t in the mix for … Read the rest

How to Make a “Newbie” into a Pro Some Tricks of the Trade


Newbie, newb, noob, nub or n00b is a slang term for a novice or newcomer, or somebody inexperienced in a profession or activity. Depending upon the context and spelling variant used, the term can have derogatory connotations — but is also often used for descriptive purposes only, without any value judgment.

With a little help from Google we have a starting point.

New people joining a rep firm are generally totally lost. If your firm doesn’t have a solid, highly structured game plan for a new person coming in to either the sales or customer service areas they will surely … Read the rest

Checking Out the CEO Before Taking a Job


Arguably, the biggest mistake many job applicants make is focusing on possible advancement, benefits, working conditions, and pay. Obviously, each one plays a role in making a job decision. But taken together, they pale in comparison to scrutinizing the one person perched on the top rung of the ladder, the one called CEO, president or owner.

No matter how near or far you may wind up from the corner office, the decision maker, the one who calls the shots, affects your destiny.

This may be a questionable exercise when millions of workers are unemployed or underemployed. At a time like … Read the rest

How Sales and Selling Will Be Changed by 2020


The year 2020 has not been typical by any stretch of the imagination. Almost everything we know has been changed or affected in some way, shape or form. So what about selling? How has selling changed and what must we do to adapt to the new environment?

Very rarely, if ever, does a disruptor change the core principles of the sales game. Most issues and changes, whether it’s the birth of the internet, social media and email, 9-11, or the 2008 recession, have simply been distractions, causing us to make some small adjustments to our process, but they haven’t changed … Read the rest

How to Deal With Difficult Customers


Oh, boy, we all have difficult customers. I’m going to walk you through the 10 ways to deal with these hard customers. In my book, A Mind for Sales, I write about this, however, I separate difficult and bad customers — putting them in separate categories. Bad customers are those that have ethical issues. They have issues with integrity. Other things come into play with bad customers, not just that they’re not good people to deal with.

Let me tell you something — bad customers are attracted to bad salespeople. When I hear a salesperson say that they have … Read the rest

Prospecting the Stock Market


Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time. If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up … Read the rest

What Do You Do With Decision‑Deficit Disorder?


I have grown fond of coming up with self-explanatory appellations that describe some of the behaviors employers are now dealing with in today’s workplace. These include menu-driven thinking, safe-decision syndrome and now decision-deficit disorder. This week’s term was inspired during a conversation I had with a colleague who was lamenting the reluctance of many young people to take initiative and act independently.

Now, before the under-30 crowd goes off on me for making an unfair generalization, allow me to explain my reasoning. You see, I believe that the responsibility for decision-deficit disorder rests on the shoulders of the previous generations … Read the rest

Faith or Fear


Every day, and every new opportunity or change in direction, we must choose faith over fear. What does this really mean, and how do we put this into real action or something truly tangible?

Fear is what causes us leaders to question our bosses, worry about what could happen, or worse, keep us from moving forward with conviction. Having faith isn’t necessarily a religious belief (though it can be) — in business it is a positive sense of self and a positive, strong mindset. Choosing faith is about moving forward with conviction because you believe in yourself and are not … Read the rest

Finding the Correct Piece of the Puzzle


When a manufacturer was asked to describe his tried-and-true process for locating the ideal rep for a given territory, he introduced an analogy of locating the right piece to finish off a section of a jigsaw puzzle.

According to the manufacturer, “We’ve tried just about every method for locating reps that exists. That includes all of the directories that the various rep associations provide that serve our industry. However, I’ll have to admit that probably nothing beats a personal recommendation. As an example, about a month ago, one of our largest customers — and this is one of our top … Read the rest

Effective Communication in a Covid World


Just as with so many of his fellow reps, the COVID-19 pandemic has to a large extent taken long-time MANA member Sid Ragona out of the field; but Ragona has hardly disappeared. Instead, while still tending to his rep duties, today he also can be found in a series of YouTube videos covering a number of topics impacting what reps do on a daily basis.

A simple YouTube search on the name “Sid Ragona” will reward interested parties with discussions of:

  • Mastering Zoom.
  • Elevate Your Zoom Meeting to New Heights.
  • Ten Tips to Becoming a Manufacturers’ Rep.
  • Home Office Basics.
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Your Principal Just Sold or Merged What About Your Sales Rep Contract?


Lawyers who represent sales representatives often are faced with cases in which a sales rep has signed a sales rep agreement with a principal and then that principal goes through some change in ownership, either through a sale or merger, but the emerging principal may or may not be the same or continuation of the same company with which the rep originally signed a contract.

Is the principal still bound by the terms of the original contract and, if not, what terms apply? Not surprisingly, when faced with such questions, we, lawyers, usually respond with: “It depends.”

And when a … Read the rest

ISA 21 — The New Way to Convention

ISA 21 logoISA has broken down its 100-year-old convention format, rebuilt it with a fresh perspective and pumped up the volume for 2021. Beginning the week of April 19th, ISA 21 will be the largest virtual education and networking event for distributors, manufacturers and IMR’s, allowing you to expose and align your entire company at once, and at an affordable price.

At ISA 21, you’ll attend in the ways that best fit you. With over 20+ educational sessions based on the industry’s drivers of success and six different types of networking opportunities you’ll have the ability to tailor your ISA experience based … Read the rest