A Milestone

75 years

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Next year marks MANA’s 75th anniversary. A milestone anniversary often prompts discussions about how much has changed over the years. Discussions like: “In the future, will there still be manufacturers’ representatives?”

Yes, many things have changed. But when customers buy mission-critical products that make the difference between keeping their factories running smoothly and shutting down their production lines, there will always be a need for trusted resources. And those trusted resources are very often manufacturers’ reps.

I can’t think of a better example of the ways that some things don’t change than this excerpt from the September 1949 issue of The Agent and Representative (now MANA’s flagship publication Agency Sales magazine) written by manufacturers’ rep Edgar A. Wilcox, MANA’s first president:

“Chas B. Roth pointed out in our columns last month, in ‘The Selling Parade,’ that ‘salesmen’ are still not professionals. But ‘sales agents’ had better be professionals — in business, as they are, for themselves — although there admittedly remain many things yet to be accomplished for the well-being of such agency profession. MANA aims to elevate such profession in the opinion of manufacturers, suppliers and others, as well as in the opinion of agents themselves; to make it an object of true respect rather than of weakness or ridicule; and to improve its position morally, politically and legally.

“It takes energy, initiative, and a great deal of unselfish devotion to a cause to found and establish a national association like MANA — an organization in which any agent, no matter how large or small, may indeed be proud to be a member. It can mean more to you, bring you more satisfaction, and increase your income to a greater extent, than any group to which you as an agent could possibly belong.”

These words from 1949 could just as easily have been written last week. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. One thing that has not changed, and probably never will change, is that there will always be a place for trusted resources like manufacturers’ representatives.

Making Connections at the WomenReps 2021 Conference


In a crazy year with plenty of uncertainty, the WomenReps 2021 conference was conducted in Bloomington, Minnesota, in July. Even forest fires in the northern part of the state did not stop the event. It was a much-needed connection point for women in the sales representative business.

Women from around the country spent several days discussing their businesses’ roots as well as the current and future direction of their businesses.

This fourth Annual Conference had a mix of new and previous attendees from Colorado, California, North Carolina, and Minnesota. WomenReps 2021 participants included: Karen Jefferson, Rocky Mountain TSG; Julie Defee, … Read the rest

Dealing With the CRM Challenge

  • Have manufacturer requirements that their reps fill out CRM reports replaced the daily, weekly or monthly sales reports reps have faced for years? It appears so.
  • Are these reports of any benefit to the rep or the manufacturer? Questionable.
  • Do manufacturers read them? Questionable.
  • Do they help reps sell better? Questionable.
  • Do reps fill them out; should they fill them out? Debatable.
  • What happens if/when a rep pushes back? Varied results.

As reps showed little reluctance to discuss this subject, these and other questions were asked and answered during the course of a MANAchat participated in by 31 MANA members … Read the rest

CRM: Some Legal Thoughts


In the article on the MANAchat covering manufacturers requiring their independent reps to submit data and other sales call information to their CRM platforms, several reps observed that there could very well be some legal considerations affecting the rep’s independent status. In order to get some clarification on that matter, Agency Sales magazine contacted two attorneys that regularly consult with reps.

Gerald M. Newman is a veteran rep attorney and a partner in the law firm of Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC. According to Newman, “While there are a number of factors the IRS considers when determining whether a … Read the rest

Finding the Right Rep


Whenever a manufacturer is faced with the prospect of initiating the search for the right rep to work with, there are any number of factors that must be considered. Top of the list, however, is the importance of establishing a level of trust from the very beginning. That’s the advice offered by Peter Zafiro in a MANAcast conducted earlier this year.

“First and foremost, reps are the key to your business success,” maintains Zafiro, general manager of LinMot USA, Inc., a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of industrial linear motors. “Remember that reps are a part of your organization. Every manufacturer wants to … Read the rest

Routine vs. Results


“Coaches focus on the routines, while observers focus on the results.”

I recently delivered a keynote presentation for a client whose 2020 year was a record setting best, and 2021 was heading toward being even bigger. I asked the leader what he was looking for in my keynote and he said, “Nathan, I am concerned because the demand is so high for our product and my sales guys are making more sales than ever by just answering the calls, that they will get out of the practice of prospecting and doing the important activities of growing their business.”

He continued, … Read the rest

Double Your Sales With One Simple Idea


I recently came across an old sales book, Secrets of Closing Sales, by Charles B. Roth.

In the book he wrote about a group of salespeople in Detroit who tried a new idea and increased their sales by 100 percent. He then described another group in New York City who used the same idea and increased sales by 150 percent. Finally, he cited several examples of individual salespeople who used the idea and increased their sales by as much as 400 percent.

Once again, what’s the number-one key to business building and more sales? Right, activity. Making lots of … Read the rest

Teachable and Non‑Teachable Skills Great Salespeople Must Possess


Some of the skills that power high-performing salespeople are innate — they either have them or they don’t. Others must be learned. Here are several of the most important to look for in prospects and coach for in your existing sales team.

Are great salespeople born? Or are they made? It’s a question that confounds many sales managers desperate to hire and hone a winning team. The answer is both — and if you want to survive in the fiercely competitive post-Covid economy, you need to know how to identify and coach for the traits that equip salespeople to acquire … Read the rest

How to Motivate and Coach Employees for Success


I talk to lots of people each day, and what I hear about is a lack of love, support, motivation and recognition from their direct manager or supervisor.

Too many people in management positions think the only reason someone works is for money. Many managers believe that the paycheck is why people work and there is no reason to tell anyone thanks for doing a great job. We nitpick things they are doing wrong and fail to recognize and celebrate what they are doing right.

These people I am talking to are ready to leave, want to leave or are … Read the rest

Beliefs That Hinder Salespeople — I Must Believe in a Product in Order to Sell It


As a sales trainer, I often confront a difficult obstacle that stands in the way of developing more effective salespeople.

Too often salespeople are hindered by limiting beliefs that prevent them from implementing the best practices, principles and processes that can multiply their results. They remain bound by internal barriers of their own conception.

Here’s an example. A customer service representative wants to move to outside sales. He was good at his job of reacting to whomever was on the other end of the phone line and responding effectively to the requests of all the customers. As a result, he … Read the rest

MANA Recognizes Members’ Milestone Anniversary Dates

Each year MANA recognizes members who are celebrating special anniversaries of their MANA memberships. In this issue we recognize members who are celebrating 70, 65, 60, 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 or 25 years of MANA membership.

MANA thanks and congratulates these members for their long-term support and commitment to MANA and our industry.

We also thank those 421 long-term members whose membership anniversaries are not among the years listed in this issue. Your company name was either published within the past three years or will be published within the next two.

Whether your company has reached a special … Read the rest

Avoiding a Problem Down the Road


If there’s any concern that reps regularly have, it’s the danger that accompanies becoming too successful.

The typical scenario goes this way: a rep has grown business with one large customer well beyond expectations. As a result, the manufacturer’s attention is drawn to the fact that he’s writing very large commission checks to the rep on a regular basis. While on the one hand the rep may appreciate this situation, on the other hand, he’s aware of the fact that the manufacturer may decide to remove him from that account and replace him with a direct salesperson.

In response to … Read the rest

What Is the Most Tax‑Efficient Way to Take a Distribution From a Retirement Plan?


If you receive a distribution from a qualified retirement plan such as a 401(k), you need to consider whether to pay taxes now or to roll over the account to another tax-deferred plan. A correctly implemented rollover avoids current taxes and allows the funds to continue accumulating tax deferred.

Paying Current Taxes With a Lump-Sum Distribution

If you decide to take a lump-sum distribution, income taxes are due on the total amount of the distribution (except for any after-tax contributions you’ve made) and are due in the year in which you cash out. Employers are required to withhold 20 percent … Read the rest

Sid Ragona is on the January 2022 MANA Board of Directors Ballot

MANA’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Sid Ragona, owner of Ragona Scientific, LLC, in Pittsford, New York, has successfully applied to appear on the January 2022 MANA Board of Directors ballot to serve a two-year term starting May 1, 2022.

Ragona is running for the seat that will become available when MANA Director John Davis completes his service on MANA’s Board of Directors. Davis served as a director and also as Chairperson of MANA’s Board of Directors.

Davis completes his Board service on April 30, 2022. MANA’s Board of Directors and staff are so very grateful for … Read the rest