Line Card Profitability Analysis in a Parallel Universe


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It’s a little bit like science fiction.

What would a rep do if, one day, that rep woke up to find that the names of the companies on their line card were the same, but those companies were all subtly different?

  • The people at the factory were subtly different.
  • The products were subtly different.
  • The service levels and policies were subtly different.

Did this rep wake up in a parallel universe?


The rep woke up to find out that their lines are just not the same after 18 months of Covid.

  • Some of the companies are grateful for the efficiencies they get from a commissioned sales force.
  • Some of the companies have developed sharp elbows and started squeezing rep commissions.
  • Some of the companies kept the experienced people who know how to keep production lines humming.
  • Some of the companies cut staff too far, and everyone there is new and just learning how things work.

What’s a rep to do? Take the time to look at your line card and conduct a methodical Line Card Profitability Analysis. Does the commission earned from each line justify the time it takes to support each of those lines? Do all the lines fit my target market, or does supporting some of these lines pull me into areas that are not my core competency?

How can I do that methodically? I’m glad you asked.

MANA’s 18-page Line Card Profitability Analysis Workbook is free to download in the members-only area of Inside you’ll find worksheets and step-by-step instructions on how to create a Line Card Profitability matrix that will tell you which lines deserve more of your time, which lines deserve less of your time, and which lines may not belong on your line card.

Having trouble finding the workbook on Members can email us at, and we’ll respond with the file.

Lights, Camera, Action — Are You Ready for Business in the Post-Covid World?


My dad was, and continues to be, a great mentor for this second-generation manufacturers’ representative firm owner. Over the years, he has imparted a great deal of wisdom gleaned from years on the road and refined by countless hours of reflective windshield time prior to the days of cell phones and satellite radio. One of those kernels of wisdom, along with one of his prognostications, have both been at the forefront of my mind when thinking about how to best do business in this brave new world in which we find ourselves post-Covid. The wisdom is more of a mantra … Read the rest

Following a Career That Rewards Effort


Matt O’Grady’s father, grandfather and uncle were all policemen, so naturally — he became an independent manufacturers’ representative. While obviously not following the same career path as some other family members, today he sounds perfectly happy and content as president of CAM Associates, LLC, with locations in Itasca, Illinois and Delevan, Wisconsin.

As he looks back on how and why he became a rep, O’Grady explains that as a student at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, “I majored in communication because I felt no matter what career I pursued, I would have to be an effective communicator. At the … Read the rest

CRM — Friend or Foe?


While it may be impossible to identify what follows as a trend, the fact remains there have been a number of MANA members who have recently contacted the association with their thoughts on what some term as “onerous” requirements that they provide regular updates to their principals on their principals’ CRM systems. At the very least, if it’s not a trend, it’s certainly an area of concern.

Perhaps serving as a preface to a discussion of this subject are comments that have appeared recently in Agency Sales. For instance:

  • “Maintaining a manufacturer’s CRM (often, rep salespeople lose time
Read the rest

How Salespeople Can Manage Their Time Better


Time hurdles and what to do about them.

When I talk to sales reps who aren’t hitting their numbers, it usually comes down to a lack of activity; in other words, they aren’t making enough calls to get the prospects and ultimately make the sales. “I don’t have enough time” is the biggest excuse I hear regarding why they aren’t making the necessary calls. Not having enough time can be due to a few factors. Here they are and here’s what you can do about them.

Time Hurdle #1: There Really Isn’t Enough Time

This is the person being pulled … Read the rest

Monthly Management Makes Money!


A month can be long or short. In the rep business a month should be the key measuring point for running the business.

Most of us have heard the expression, “work on your business — not in it!” Unfortunately, most reps are so far in the business that they are like frogs in a pot of boiling water, just swimming so hard to stay alive that they never think about the vital few things that make them successful.

The Vital Few

What are the “vital few” for a rep firm?

1. Time to think — as mentioned above, reps are … Read the rest

You’ll Gain More Credibility Through the Questions You Ask Than the Stories You Tell


I’m sure you’ll agree that establishing credibility is one of the most critical elements in securing a new customer. The customer must see you as a credible and trustworthy resource. When we ask our program participants to describe the elements of credibility, they often will suggest things like a proven track record, a list of satisfied customers, number of years in business, financial strength, business size, etc. — all items that contribute to credibility. Our next question is, “How do you establish that credibility or convey that credibility to a prospective customer?” Invariably, the response is, “We tell them.”

Now … Read the rest

Create Customer Passion by Remembering and Using Your Customer’s Name


Very few companies remember and use customers’ names. Employees rarely, if ever, remember and consistently use the names and remember the faces of the customer they see most often, let alone the customer they see only occasionally.

There is nothing more precious to a customer than their name. It is the highest level of customer service. In a year the typical customer can count on one hand the times an employee will use their name. Most companies and employees don’t care. Few realize the impact it makes on a customer.

This is a stealth approach to keeping customers and stealing … Read the rest

Customer Communication — Everything Through Me


As a veteran sales trainer, I’ve often wrestled with this question: Why is it that some salespeople do so much better in the long run than others of equal skill and competency?

I’ve identified a number of reasons for that. Probably the most powerful and pervasive reason has to do with their unique set of beliefs. I’m not talking about political or religious beliefs here; I’m referring to a more commonplace set of beliefs that rule their jobs and their vision of themselves on the job.

Beliefs That Hinder

They entertain ideas and beliefs that seem comfortable and right to … Read the rest

Content Is King for Sales Too


According to one of the world’s richest persons, “content is king.”

That’s what Microsoft founder Bill Gates declared in an essay he wrote in 1996. You could make the argument that content is even more royal today than it was in the ’90s. Content attracts attention and draws prospective clients.

I’m a big believer in writing fresh, original content because it makes a revenue generator’s job so much easier.

As a professional speaker, I do zero advertising. The only “marketing” I do is write articles that are intended to be valuable for people in my target audience and post similar … Read the rest

Self Motivation


In the course of listing a menu of the reasons his company has gone to market with reps, one manufacturer let Agency Sales magazine know what really gets him enthused about working with his nationwide network of reps. “We never have to spend any time worrying about them getting out of bed in the morning and having them make sales calls. They do that all by themselves.”

He continued, “While we are totally committed to reps nationwide, we do have one small territory where we have a three-person direct-sales office that handles a few accounts. Even though they’re located near … Read the rest

Best Practices for Risk Management for Reps

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Risk management has been a popular topic in business circles for at least 10 years, if not longer. Larger enterprises have full departments dedicated to surfacing and addressing business risk. One way to enhance value for a rep agency, or any business for that matter, is to capture sales or other opportunities. Similarly, managing or reducing risk can also add value through prevented or protected losses.

The following reflects a framework for manufacturers’ reps to assess risk and pass along how suppliers and customers might also be dealing with and managing risk, in an effort to better understand each other’s … Read the rest

How Does Inflation Affect Me?


Are you saving for retirement? For your children’s education? For any other long-term goal? If so, you’ll want to know how inflation can impact your savings. Inflation is the increase in the price of products over time. Inflation rates have fluctuated over the years. Sometimes inflation runs high, and other times it is hardly noticeable. The short-term changes aren’t the real issue. The real issue is the effect of long-term inflation.

Over the long term, inflation erodes the purchasing power of your income and wealth. This means that even as you save and invest, your accumulated wealth buys less and … Read the rest