Moving the Needle on Shared Market Development Fees


© Alex |

Last week a MANA rep member thanked me for MANA’s work to champion Shared Market Development Fees (SMDF). In recent years, said the rep, manufacturers have become more and more receptive to SMDF, which he credited to MANA’s efforts to familiarize manufacturers with SMDF.

SMDF are monthly payments a manufacturer pays to a rep when the manufacturer needs that rep to pioneer a territory without existing sales. Because it can take a year for the first commissionable sales to close where that manufacturer’s product is unknown, the manufacturer pays part of the rep’s costs for pioneering activities.

MANA began championing SMDF because manufacturers with no market presence often ask reps to introduce unknown brands into their territories without compensation because: “You’re in there anyway, just add us to your sales call.”

“No,” MANA explained to manufacturers. “Customers give reps limited time during a sales call. So they lose income if they take time from a principal that generates commission income to talk about a principal that doesn’t.”

Later, we discovered that SMDF might benefit manufacturers even more than reps.

Why? Because professional reps with full line cards were always out of reach to manufacturers with lines that required pioneering. But SMDF can make reps who would never before have considered pioneering a line accessible to manufacturers who want the best reps to launch their brands.

Win-win for reps and manufacturers. That is what MANA is all about.

What else has MANA learned about SMDF? Written SMDF agreements are crucial so each party knows the other’s expectations, for example:

  • How many sales calls on the manufacturer’s behalf does the principal expect?
  • Does the manufacturer expect a monthly report on the rep’s activities? How detailed and how formal does that report need to be? Would phone calls and texts suffice?

MANA is proud to have moved the needle on SMDF. Want to share your SMDF experiences or suggest how MANA can move that needle further? Reach out to me at

The Importance of Professionalism


One of the benefits of serving on MANA’s Board of Directors and the Health Industry Representatives Association Board of Directors is that I get to meet and speak with many other manufacturers’ representatives. They have lots of different ways to go to market, and the products they sell serve many different industries — but they all have one thing in common: They are proud sales professionals.

Each of them expresses their professionalism in their own way, and I would like to share with you some things that I have learned about professionalism from my counterparts who span so many industries … Read the rest

Staying on the Offensive


Rather than waiting for the proverbial next shoe to drop, Vic Myers Associates (VMA) went on the offensive when it came to dealing with the understandably onerous restrictions that agencies like it and others had to work their way through during the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic.

An important part of that offensive move was the acquisition in February of new headquarters space in Arizona, specifically for the purpose of allowing VMA personnel, customers and principals to meet face‑to‑face.

With four main offices located in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, VMA is an agency engaged in the representation of instrumentation and … Read the rest

Anxious to Get Out in the Field


As lockdown restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic continued to be lifted, it sounds like Linda Gunter was feeling the same restlessness and impatience she faced in her previous career as a paralegal. She couldn’t wait to get back out on the road meeting face-to-face with customers.

Gunter, president of Gunter Medical, LLC, San Antonio, Texas, admits that it’s not easy for her to sit still. “I’m a people person. I just can’t sit on a computer all day or sit behind the desk. I’ve got to be out there meeting with people.”

That’s why when the travel and customer … Read the rest

Sales Success Really Boils Down to These Two Things….


Almost every time I get a new client and start to look at what the sales team is doing, I see the same patterns and mistakes over and over again.

Many times there is a plethora of things to fix but what I’ve found is that if you can just focus on two key areas, a lot of other things align and allow you to significantly increase sales. So, instead of overwhelming them with everything they need to fix, I break it down to two steps and tell them to simply focus on these two areas.

Step 1: Make Lots Read the rest

Ten Commandments of an Ethical Salesperson


Here are 10 commandments that sales professionals should follow to ensure they follow ethical sales practices.

1. Ethical salespeople don’t intentionally misrepresent anything.

Never, never, never lie to a customer. About anything. Ever. Period.

2. Fix any important misunderstandings.

It’s possible that your customer will form incorrect ideas about some of the products you represent or the services that come with them. It’s also possible that they will misunderstand things about your competitors, and about the needs and statements of other people who work in their organizations.

It’s very tempting when these misunderstandings work in your favor to ignore them. … Read the rest

Looking Back at Last Year’s Most Important Advice


This might not be a pleasant memory but close your eyes and picture yourself one year ago. Remember what you were thinking and how you were feeling. The pandemic was new, and the fear caused by the recently implemented shutdown was raw. People who sell for a living were shell-shocked, wondering how they would pay bills or keep their businesses afloat.

I have written more than a thousand articles in my career, but a year ago today, I wrote one of my most important ones. It was titled, “How Can You Sell Your Way Out of This Crisis?” Here’s a … Read the rest

The Worst Leadership Styles to Avoid


Avoid these four worst leadership styles that can sink a company.

There is a popular saying, “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.” Let’s face it, with 40 hours a week dedicated just to work, no one wants to willingly show up to a place that is emotionally and mentally exhausting.

A good leader has to keep their head in the game at all times, otherwise, they can stifle creativity, lower productivity, yield poor employee retention and contribute to poor quality of work. In this post we’ll examine the four worst leadership styles to avoid when leading your … Read the rest

Why Setting and Achieving Goals Is Difficult


For now, I am going to walk through problems people have that make setting and achieving goals so difficult.

1. Unreasonable

Here is the problem: Oftentimes, people simply set unreasonable goals or are even given unreasonable goals by their boss. However, your goal is only unreasonable if you fail to put a plan behind it.

If you are not willing to take the time then yes, it is completely unreasonable.

The unreasonable becomes reasonable when you have a plan.

2. No Commitment

The issue may be that you simply do not make a commitment to it.

You set your goals … Read the rest

Are You Too Busy to Be Productive?


Let’s be frank — if you work for a company, then your primary goal is to make money. Period. You may have secondary goals to serve customer and employee interests and to be a good corporate citizen, but your number one priority is strictly return on investment. Profit.

When I speak at conventions and meetings on how to boost profits through customer retention, I often find that business owners and managers don’t have their priorities straight. The result is they lose customer loyalty, face increasing operating costs, scramble to replace staff turnover, and struggle just to keep up with the … Read the rest

Tips for Restarting a Rep Council


Over the course of several virtual networking presentations conducted by MANA during the last year, one subject continued to raise its head — rep councils.

Combining several conversations that transpired among manufacturers that tuned in to the presentations, one that remains pertinent was an exchange between two manufacturers, one of whom was looking for tips on how to restart his council after a lapse of several years. The advice from the other manufacturer was: “The best place to start is to look to your beginnings. Don’t build on what you did previously. Take a look at what your problems were, … Read the rest

How to Get Your Audience to Fall in Love With Your Virtual Event


Do you remember April 1, 2020? The entire world was in lockdown, and at Objective Management Group (OMG) we had just 10 days to figure out how to convert our annual four-day international conference for sales experts to a three-day virtual event over Zoom. The 200 in attendance loved it!

By late last summer, we knew full well that our 2021 conference would also be virtual. The difference was that we would have seven months to prepare, and we wanted to optimize the conference specifically for a virtual event. How was it different from what we accomplished a year earlier? … Read the rest

Fixing Rights and Responsibilities


I, like many lawyers, advise my clients to document what the deal is with the principal in a written contract and amendments to the contract, so that each party can consult the contract to determine what each party’s rights and responsibilities are and, where the parties have some dispute they cannot resolve, a judge and a jury can do likewise.

However, in giving this advice, I stress that documenting each party’s rights and responsibilities is not enough. The sales representative must also make certain that each party’s rights and responsibilities under the contract are settled and fixed, preferably in plain … Read the rest

What Is a SIMPLE?


There are many types of employer-sponsored retirement plans.

One that may appeal to small businesses and to self-employed individuals is the savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) because, as the name implies, it is easy to set up and administer, and employers are allowed to take a tax deduction for the contributions that are made.

SIMPLEs can be established by small businesses that have 100 or fewer employees (who were paid at least $5,000 or more in compensation during the previous year) and do not maintain other retirement plans. They can be structured as an IRA for each eligible … Read the rest