Backselling Emergency!

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What is backselling? It’s how savvy reps invest a little time every month to ensure their principals understand those reps’ value. They communicate with principals as if the line were in jeopardy even when it is not because they know that anything they say after the line is in jeopardy will sound like an excuse instead of communication.

Backselling means that no major principal ever has reason to think: “You know, I haven’t heard from Rep XYZ for months; I wonder if we’re getting good value for the commission check we send each month.”

Before Covid, backselling might have meant making sure that each major principal received news of some success or an activity relating to that line every week. It was a steady drip, drip, drip of communication to reinforce each principal’s positive impression of that rep.

Now, that steady drip, drip, drip of communication needs to turn into a fire hose.


Your principals know you are effective in face-to-face customer meetings. But, now that text, phone, and video chat have replaced most face-to-face meetings, your principals may wonder if you are effective in this new environment. And the only way they will know is if you tell them.

Here are some real-life examples of the kind of messages your principals need to receive:

  • “Now that many of my customers are working from home, I have had more success getting people like (customer) to take my calls than ever before.”
  • “Fortunately, (customer) and I have a long relationship. I have permission to text him, so my messages get through on a priority basis.
  • “I spoke with (customer) today. He always used to let all his calls go to voicemail, but I think he is lonely after being stuck in his house for ten months. We spoke for an hour and a half!”

More than ever, it’s time to communicate with your principals as if the line were in jeopardy even when it is not. The line you save may be your own.

Note: Backselling is a word coined by John Haskell, a frequent contributor to Agency Sales magazine and author of Profit Rx under his pen name, Dr. Revenue®.

Permanent Changes Long After the Current Pandemic Subsides


When will the dust settle? What will the “new normal” look like? Although we might have a peek at individual changes, it is not possible to completely comprehend the effect of all the recent changes. That fine‑tuned crystal ball is still not available for general distribution.

Here’s what we know so far about the changes we have seen in the last 13 months:

  • The number of available workers continues to decrease. During the pandemic we have lost many caregivers of young children. Women, who make up half the population, are still the main caregivers in families. We cannot afford to
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Post-Covid What Changes Are Permanent?


Thoughts of what happened to everything from drive-in movies, blacksmiths, and stagecoach drivers — not to mention the traditional handshake — come to mind when considering the changes in how reps have conducted business as the more than year-long pandemic winds down.

Think for a moment about the absence of in-person sales calls, not to mention the fact that many of the offices reps used to visit are now empty as purchasing and specifying personnel work from home. Then there’s the marked increase in the use of virtual Zoom or Skype meetings and the increase in the use of email … Read the rest

Finding a Niche With Smaller Companies


A drive to build a solid foundation for a career as an independent manufacturers’ rep coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit pointed Owen Swift in the direction of opening his own agency in 2017. Today, Swift heads Swift Scientific, LLC, Coventry, Connecticut. His one-man agency represents premium manufacturers of scientific laboratory equipment, reagents, and biologics and matches unique research and development technologies with specific lab applications.

Swift’s career background includes more than 15 years providing automation equipment and specialized consumable supplies to life-science researchers in the Northeast United States. His experience spans the drug development pipeline from discovery and basic research … Read the rest

Why It’s Time to Make Reputation Your Top Priority


A recent alert grabbed my attention. It made the bold statement that the most important issue facing businesses today is managing reputation. This wasn’t about splashing on a bright, new coat of PR paint, issuing self‑serving press releases, or scheduling TV ads featuring “happy and grateful” employees.

More than ever, today’s consumers align their dollars with businesses that share their values and concerns. It may be somewhat ironic that it took the COVID-19 pandemic to get our attention focused on where we’re spending our money. That’s why now is the time to make reputation your top priority. In the past … Read the rest

Service Recovery:
Handling Service Failures


When you foul up (and we all do) you can count on customers contacting you to let you know what you’ve done. If it’s a phone call, you can expect to hear ranting and raving and people saying things that are rude and inappropriate. If they are in your place of business, they will confront you face-to-face and it’s up to you how to defuse the situation and put a smile on that customer’s face.

When things do go wrong, it’s how you recover and delight the customer that truly sets you apart from other companies. Opportunities for service recovery … Read the rest

How to Build Trust and Rapport Quickly


If you’re working hard but aren’t consistently generating enough sales and getting referrals, chances are it’s a matter of trust. One of the most critically important and yet frequently overlooked aspects of selling is creating a solid foundation of trust and rapport.

Suppose you could incorporate a few simple, yet highly effective ideas into your selling process and substantially increase your bottom line?

Successful salespeople have a knack for making people feel important. They understand the value of building trust and rapport early on in the selling process. For you see, it really doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about … Read the rest

Stop Going Around the Horn!


Making all meetings less boring and more engaging.

Why are most meetings not productive?

Have you ever attended a boring meeting with your boss or organization? Or worse — have you yourself hosted your own boring meeting? If you said yes, don’t sweat it, you’re not alone — in fact most leaders have, though not all of us recognize it. The most common contributor for this is the infamous “going around the horn” for updates. Going around the horn can be a good activity during a meeting, but when used for peer updates it leads to a meeting “for two” … Read the rest

Ways to Make Closing a Breeze


One of my all-time favorite “sales” quotes came from a man known simply as “The Greatest,” the late boxing champ Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

At the end of a boxing match, spectators see the glory and adoration of a victorious champion. They don’t see what it takes to get there. They don’t see the hard work or the blood, sweat and tears. It’s the investment of time, effort and discipline leading up … Read the rest

Why I Love Sales


I love sales. I absolutely love it. I hope you love sales too. At this time of the year, I want to share with you 10 reasons why I love sales.

1. It’s About Helping People

That’s what sales is all about. Salespeople help every day. We get to be out there helping others see and achieve what they didn’t think was possible. What could be more exciting? It’s our job day in and day out to help others! And add to that the ability to have a job where you could spend all day helping people.

2. It’s About Read the rest

Praise: The Key Word for Your Business or Personal Tool Kit


The dictionary definition of this one simple word is “the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something.” I would add the word “sincere” to that definition. Praise can be a word with powerful consequences that many people don’t feel comfortable with.

Criticism is a more preferable expression. Praise can yield amazingly good results for the user in business, or in one’s personal life it can also make the individual giving praise feel good. It should, however, not be used to obtain anything, which is why I added the word “sincere” to the definition. You don’t need to know … Read the rest

Preventing Future Failure


When a long-awaited addition became available to its product line, a manufacturer admitted that he rushed it to market.

In a positive move, he did take the time to support the effort with plenty of literature, inside sales support and online information and advertising. One thing he failed to consider, however, was the critical need to train his outsourced sales force. Taking the responsibility on his own shoulders, he explained that misstep this way: “We quickly responded to a need exhibited by the market for this product. Our thinking and planning was that we should get it into the hands … Read the rest

Beware of the New Owner


Disclaimer — This article is based on my thoughts and my experiences in litigating sales commission disputes for more than 40 years, primarily in the automotive industry. Some of my comments regarding accountants and private equity firms may be somewhat over-generalized. I apologize in advance in case any reader is an accountant/consultant or owner of a private equity firm.

The Problem

I’ve had several cases recently where principals, primarily automotive suppliers represented by independent manufacturers’ representatives, have been purchased in whole or in part by private equity firms. This often occurs when the primary owner, often one person, decides to … Read the rest

Tips for Managing Money


As with virtually all financial matters, the easiest way to be successful with a cash management program is to develop a systematic and disciplined approach. Spending a few minutes each week to maintain your cash management program can help you keep track of how you spend your money and pursue your financial goals.

Any good cash management system revolves around the four A’s — Accounting, Analysis, Allocation and Adjustment.

Accounting quite simply involves gathering all your relevant financial information together and keeping it close at hand for future reference. Gathering all your financial information — such as income and expenses … Read the rest