Why Hire Reps? I Had No Choice!

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Helping manufacturers work effectively with reps is a primary reason MANA exists. So, manufacturers call all the time with questions about switching to reps.

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Until today, their reasons were pretty much always one of these three:

  • “I need a salesforce that already knows best prospects and is a trusted resource to those prospects.”
  • “I need a salesforce that is already familiar with our market space and our technology that can hit the ground running.”
  • “I need a salesforce that sells complementary, noncompeting products so I can ride the coattails of the manufacturers already on that rep’s line card.”

But the call I got today was different.

“I am in the process of switching to reps,” said the manufacturer* on the phone, “so I joined MANA for the educational materials. I have some questions about Shared Marked Development Fees and Life-of-Part/Life-of-Program rep agreements.”

At the end of our conversation, I asked: “How did you decide to go with reps?”

“I had no choice,” explained the manufacturer. “We tried to hire a direct salesperson, but we couldn’t find any qualified applicants.”

“However,” he continued, “as we dug deeper into the problem of finding salespeople, we discovered that there are abundant, highly-qualified manufacturers’ reps available to sell our products, so we went with reps instead.

“Other manufacturers must have discovered the same thing because, even though highly-qualified reps are readily available, we find that we have to compete aggressively with other manufacturers to get reps’ attention. That’s why I called to learn more about Market Development fees and ‘Life of Part/Life of Program’ commissions. We’ve had to offer more generous contracts to compete with other manufacturers, but we’re very impressed with reps we’ve been able to bring on board.”

Today was the first time I heard a manufacturer say: “I hired reps because I had no choice.” But it sounds like I will be hearing that again.

Note: The manufacturer’s comments were edited for space, clarity and content.

What a Representative Firm Is Looking for When a Manufacturer Contacts Them Regarding Representation

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Long-lasting relationships between manufacturers and representatives are beneficial to each party and the customer as well. This relationship begins when the manufacturer reaches out to the representative and solicits professional representation in a specific area or on an account-by-account basis.

The information exchanged in this initial dialogue will help both sides develop an enduring foundation that can be built upon as each company grows. In this phase, representatives will decide whether to engage with the manufacturer or not. There are several things a manufacturer can do to prepare for this initial communication to ensure they find the representative best suited … Read the rest

Battling the Ransomware Threat

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Last summer, headlines pushed aside pandemic news with reports that:

“Hackers Demand $75 Million to Unlock Firms Hit by Ransomware Attack.”

“What if Hackers Access My Business System?”

“Don’t Be That Employee: How to Avoid Ransomware Attacks at Home.”

Do these attacks pose a threat to reps, their manufacturers and the customers they both serve? Answers vary, but in general, responses offer cautionary advice on how to navigate what might be a potential minefield.

Preparation is mandatory, according to regular Agency Sales contributor Terry Brock. “Yes, this is something that everyone who uses a computer should be aware of and … Read the rest

Heading Off Attacks

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Earlier this year in his blog, Talking Healthcare Technology, Henry Soch reported on what tech users can do to prevent ransomware attacks and adds some U.S. Government information on what to do if you’ve been hacked.

So, what can you do to prevent disruption from ransomware attacks?

The U.S. Government Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends these best practices:

  • Require multi-factor authentication for remote access to OT and IT networks.
  • Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching end users. Filter emails containing executable files from reaching end users.
  • Implement a user training program and simulated attacks
Read the rest

Taking Advantage of the Rep Appeal

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Barb Smith’s passion for her agency and her choice of career have translated into a belief that today she would be unemployable with any other company.

Smith, who heads Barbara J Sales, Inc., a woman-owned business working in commercial construction focusing on innovative building envelope products, opened her own agency 26 years ago after working in a large company for 16 years. She became familiar with the world of reps while working for another large organization that had worked with reps throughout the United States. “I started with them as a direct employee working a small territory. Three months after … Read the rest

Boost Your Income Now!

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Never Give Up — FOLLOW UP!

While most business professionals know that follow-up is important, the fact is that very few are masterful at the art of it. Sure, they may leave one or two voicemails for people or send a couple of emails, but those attempts are only scratching the surface of what follow-up is really all about.

In truth, following up with a prospect or customer is about attending to the details of business. It’s doing what you say you will do and honoring your word. It is committing to what you know you can commit to and … Read the rest

Diagnostic Conversations — The Optimal Source of Differentiation

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Having a good conversation — in business or anywhere else, for that matter — is not as simple as it might appear. In fact, it’s a major challenge, especially in the world of complex sales and multicultural business relationships. Authentic and compelling customer conversations are the key to what I like to call “privileged access” and “privileged insight.”

Privileged access is what we need in order to tap into the best sources of information within our customers’ organizations. Privileged insight is what we need to clearly understand our customers, their responsibilities and metrics, and recognize how we can impact their … Read the rest

A Subtle but Deadly Killer of Sales

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If you’ve read past sales articles of mine, you know I talk a lot about the two major keys to sales success: lots of the right activity and great sales skills. That said, while a lack of activity is the biggest killer of sales success, a lack of great sales skills isn’t the second biggest killer.

The second biggest killer is more subtle. It’s so subtle, in fact, that most salespeople go through their whole sales careers and never figure this one out, and as a result, they never become the salesperson they could be.

The Second Biggest Killer of Read the rest

How to Create Rapport With Anyone in Under 30 Seconds

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We all know the power of first impressions. How people perceive us during the first few seconds of an encounter has a major influence on whether they will trust us, be attracted to us, or want to conduct business with us.

To create a positive first impression, we need to know how to connect immediately with others regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, mood, or the situation.

Let’s begin by testing your “first impression awareness.” What would you think of the waiter in the following situation? You’re having a business lunch with a potential client. She’s telling you about … Read the rest

The Top Mistakes Sales Managers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

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Most sales managers trip over two big stumbling blocks:

  • Hiring the wrong candidates.
  • Motivating salespeople incorrectly.

Here’s how to stop the revolving door for good.

Hiring and managing salespeople are the most important things you will do as a sales manager; yet, they are also the most difficult. Finding effective salespeople can feel like a never-ending cycle of hiring, training, and inevitable disappointment. Even worse, this revolving door costs your company thousands with every turn. The big problem is that traditional hiring techniques are terrible at identifying the most crucial quality a salesperson can possess.

Less than 20 percent of … Read the rest

Being Right vs. Doing Right

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Ahh — being right vs. doing right, the millennia-year-old conundrum. As a corporate leader, especially middle management, you can often find yourself in the position to shift blame when things go wrong or take credit for being a capable leader when things go right.

But in a worst-case scenario, does that rationale resolve the issue or exacerbate it? In this article I’ll lay out the debate for why it is important to focus on being more proactive, by doing right, in your leadership role. Let’s dive in!

Being Right, Never Wrong

In a recent coaching session with one of my … Read the rest

The Rep as Consultant

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It’s not completely unusual that a manufacturer that is new to working with reps will contact Agency Sales in an effort to get advice on how to smooth the water in the new relationship.

When that happens, one suggestion that is made is to consider the experience of one manufacturer who developed a formalized plan for working with his reps. Here’s how he explained it: “After getting as much information as I could from MANA, I then approached the first rep that we had begun working with to act as a sort of consultant for us. This could have been … Read the rest

Is Frequency Bias Manipulative or Just a Smart Technique?

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“I see your signs everywhere!”

For 20 years, I worked in commercial real estate, and if had a dollar for every time someone said that to me about our company, I’d have a ton of money.

They’re talking about the “For Sale” signs that real estate brokers plant in front of their listed properties.

Of course, even the busiest company doesn’t really have signs everywhere, but sometimes it feels like they do.

Why is that?

It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon also known as “frequency illusion.” Psychologists tell us that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a cognitive bias. After noticing something for … Read the rest

Look Before You Leap, or, He Who Hesitates Is Lost — A Lawyer’s Perspective

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If you are new in the sales representative business and a principal offers you a territory with an established customer base for which commissions will be paid, do you take it without question? If you are a manufacturer who has decided to market new products via sales representatives, do you engage the first reputable sales representative to come across your desk? Should you look before you leap, or do you fear that if you hesitate the opportunity will wane?

Aesop’s “look before you leap” bedtime story tells about a thirsty fox who saw a big well nearby and peeped into … Read the rest

Kingstec, Ontario-Based Manufacturing Partner, Launches New Website

New site showcases expanded offerings to medtech, performance automotive aftermarket, industrial, telecom, agtech, and other industries.

MANA member Kingstec, the company offering complete solutions to project management, engineering, manufacturing, and logistical challenges, announced the launch of its new website at www.kingstec.com. The new site features expanded and frequently updated content for companies in medical technology, performance automotive aftermarket, industrial controls, telecommunications, agricultural technology and more.

For nearly 40 years, Kingstec has partnered with established businesses and startups all over the world, connecting them with trusted manufacturing partners in Asia and seeing projects through from ideation to delivery. Kingstec’s services include … Read the rest