75-Year-Old Soup’s On — Come and Get It!

image of a soup pot

© vladwel | stock.adobe.com

A perpetual stew, also known as forever soup, is a pot that is never or rarely emptied all the way, and ingredients and liquid are replenished as necessary. Foods prepared in a perpetual stew have been described as being flavorful due to the manner in which the ingredients blend together, in which the flavor may improve with age. — Wikipedia

The year was 1947. Harry S. Truman was president of the United States, and a group of manufacturers’ reps decided to band together to exchange best practices and elevate their industry’s professionalism.

The best practices that those reps shared in 1947 included protecting their commissions, negotiating rep agreements, and coping with house accounts.

Those discussions were the first ingredients in a perpetual stew of best practices that have been simmering at MANA for 75 years. Since then, we’ve stirred additional best practice ingredients into the pot, including:

  • Writing rep business plans.
  • Finding the best lines to represent.
  • Developing new markets with pioneering lines.
  • Negotiating win-win rep agreements.
  • Analyzing your line card.
  • Leveraging new technologies.
  • Managing house accounts and split commissions.
  • Working with international principals.
  • Forming rep councils.
  • Planning to sell your rep business.

With 75 years of best practices to choose from, the pot eventually started overflowing. So we curated the ingredients into a list of our most valuable best practice resources. The result was two curated lists in the member area of MANAonline.org:

  • For reps: 12 Steps to Rep Professionalism
  • For manufacturers: 9 Steps to Selling Through Independent Reps

The very best from 75 years of collecting the best practices, all in one place and all included in your MANA membership.

It’s food for your brain and for your business success. Soup’s on; come and get it, available exclusively to MANA members.

The Importance of Reps Marketing Themselves to Principals


It’s critical that independent manufacturers’ representatives market themselves to existing and prospective principals just as if they are a product or service. That was just one of the important bits of advice offered by John Haskell (aka Dr. Revenue) during a MANAcast earlier this year.

According to Haskell, “When dealing with principals, the first thing the rep has to do is to think of themselves as a product. It’s important that they think that way. They’ve got to build themselves a business profile and a marketing plan that makes them look desirable to manufacturers.”

Haskell, a frequent contributor to Agency Read the rest

We Are the Same, But Different

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Lamps are different, but light is the same. — Rumi, 1207-1273 AD

Travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll often discover that things abroad may seem the same, but also different. And, in the process of learning about things from international lands that are the same but also different, you may develop a deeper understanding of the familiar things from home.

For example, on both sides of the Atlantic, commission-based outsourced sales forces are a popular, cost-effective way for manufacturers to go to market. In North America, manufacturers’ representatives; and in Europe, commercial agents.

Are manufacturers’ reps and their European … Read the rest

Planning for the Best


Do you want this year to be your best year in business and sell more than you’ve ever sold before? If so, here are four tips, plus two bonus tips, for having your best year ever.

Tip #1: Determine Why It’s Critical You Have a Great Year

What are you capable of if you set your mind to it? Pretty much anything, right? So, whether or not you’ll have your best year will pretty much come down to how compelling your reasons are for making it happen. Find your why in positive reasons for making this your best year and … Read the rest

The Future of Customer Service: Buying Trends to Capitalize On


Have you ever seen this much marketplace disruption?

The year 2022 marks my 30th anniversary of client companies bringing me in to work with their sales and service teams to grow their business. Over my three decades of speaking, training and writing on the topic I’ve never seen a shift in customer buying behaviors as dramatic as those we’ve recently experienced during the pandemic. Consider how you and your organization can capitalize on the following big three trends.

Buying Trend #1 — Convenience Is King

The pandemic exploded online buying, particularly at Amazon. Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t sell products. It sells … Read the rest

Tips to Get More Referrals


Without a doubt, the easiest, most efficient and cost‑effective way to build your business is with referrals.

You simply cannot say, “But what if we haven’t been in business long enough to get referrals?” Excuse me, you’ve been on planet earth, haven’t you? That means you’ve got friends. You’ve got acquaintances. Referrals don’t just come from people who are actively doing business with you.

There are some great ways to integrate asking for referrals into your sales process. I’ve got 10 to share with you.

1. Build a Referral Network

Collaborate with other people who are like you, who you … Read the rest

Why You Need to Serve Those Beside You


We cannot exist in a vacuum, whether we would like to or not. At work, it is essential to successfully collaborate with our colleagues and other leaders in the middle to get the job done right. Now, while I acknowledge the resistance to collaborate between groups may at times not necessarily stem from us, we still have to be accountable by doing the right thing. This is why serving those beside you is important — it’s about being mindful about your actions and those of the people you coach.

In my book, Serve Up, Coach Down, I write quite … Read the rest

The Cost of Compromise: Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lower Your Standards When Hiring Salespeople


Especially given the current talent shortage, it’s hard to find good salespeople. Lowering your standards to fill an opening — no matter how desperate you might be — could be a fatal mistake.

As the economy (finally) heats up, hiring managers are desperately trying to fill sales openings. Faced with stiff competition for a small pool of applicants, you might be tempted to compromise on the quality of new hires. It’s easy to rationalize: Thanks to the pandemic, the nature of sales has changed. The role is less forward-facing than it used to be, and anyone can give a virtual … Read the rest

Remember and Use a Customer’s Name


Customer service has many elements that allow you to deliver superior customer service. I believe your name is a precious possession, and when a company uses your name, it elevates the customer experience.

People value their names and the capital they bring to any conversation, interaction or relationship. People love to hear their names. More than any other word in any language, their names often sound best to their own ears. It gives them a jolt when recognized by a friend or acquaintance. That recognition almost always generates an immediate, positive reaction that affects the upcoming experience for the better.… Read the rest

The Secret to Selling Commodity Products


It’s very satisfying when the message promoting the value of reps gets repeated by an outside source. Recently, the following came across our desk from a company that provides a matchmaking service for manufacturers and reps. It’s interesting that the benefits cited by this company so closely echo the message that has consistently been repeated for years by Agency Sales and MANA.

According to the company, it’s important to consider the type of product that the manufacturer is taking to market. Off-the-shelf products tend to be sold through resellers. The reseller’s value add is same-day delivery. The more engineered the … Read the rest

Why Voicemail Is So Effective


“Telephone prospecting is a waste of time, because all I ever do is leave voicemails. Nobody ever answers the phone!”

I hear frustrating words like these from sales reps quite often.

Few topics in the sales world generate more opinions than telephone prospecting in general, and voicemails in particular. Sales reps typically don’t enjoy telephone prospecting, and many get tired of never reaching a real, living decision maker.

Make no mistake; those of us who sell for a living spend a lot of time leaving voicemails.

According to Ringlead.com, the typical sales rep leaves an average of 70 voicemails per … Read the rest

Be Sure Your Sales Rep Agreement Has an Escape Route


I’ve had many clients over the years who have drafted their own sales representation agreements without the help of an attorney. While I encourage my sales rep clients to negotiate their own sales representation agreements, I strongly recommend that they send me any proposed drafts to review before they are sent to the other side.

The Problem

A sales representative drafting their own agreement will often copy someone else’s agreement thinking that if it worked for their friend, it would also work for them. Not generally a good idea. Many of my sales rep clients are also engineers. My engineer … Read the rest

Registration Opens for AIM/R’s Golden Anniversary

AIM/R celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center. The association is returning to its roots and where the first annual conference was held back in 1973, with a theme of Mission Celebrate. Our 2022 Conference Chair, Katie Hubach, CPA, Signature Sales, Inc., hopes you join us this fall in Colorado.
Mission Celebrate, AIM/R 50th Annual Conference image

Registration and housing for the AIM/R 50th Annual Conference (October 12-14, 2022) is open. Check out the program line-up with speakers from inside and outside the industry at www.aimr.net/AnnualConference2022.

What’s new this year? Manufacturers will join us later in the week from October … Read the rest