What Will Happen If There Are No Sales?


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A very successful rep recently called to share his experiences with Market Development Fees (MDF).

“MDF are an excellent way for manufacturers with no existing sales and no name recognition to access a more experienced rep like me who usually would not take on their product line.

“Normally, I can’t afford to take on a ‘pioneering’ line. After all, during most sales calls, customers usually give me only 30 to 45 minutes, which means I focus that time on two or three principals that are already generating commission income.

“Principals with no existing sales who offer MDF share the cost of introducing their unknown product into my territory. MDF don’t cover all my costs, but they do mean that I’m not shouldering the entire cost of introducing a new product to my customers.

“I had an interesting conversation about MDF with a manufacturer who asked: ‘But what will happen if I pay you a monthly MDF and there are no sales?’

“My answer was straightforward: ‘I am meticulous about only accepting MDF from manufacturers whose products fit my customers and market space, so I always bring my MDF manufacturers solid opportunities. Sometimes those opportunities don’t turn into sales, but the reasons have been things like the manufacturer:

  • Didn’t have enough staff to prepare a proposal on a timely basis.
  • Didn’t have the plant capacity to accept the orders I tried to bring them.
  • Couldn’t sell their product at price levels that similar manufacturers were offering in my market.

“Sometimes, I invest 6-12 months of work on a pioneering line only to discover that they did not have the resources to capitalize on the opportunities I brought them. Sharing those up-front costs limits my potential losses and is the only way for me to take on the risk of a pioneering line.”

Note: The rep’s comments were edited for length, clarity and content.

How Manufacturers’ Representatives Interact With Customers Has Changed


There is no doubt that how salespeople interact with customers differs now than just a few years ago. Not just due to the COVID‑19 pandemic — it changed even before that. Technology and younger generation customers with different values impacted salesperson/customer relationships. Meeting with customers in‑person became a greater challenge.

Obviously, to remain successful in the new environment, you must adapt and make changes. Here are some thoughts to help guide you to the new “New.”

First, believe that we live in an abundant world and we have choices. Are all your principals collaborating with you as “Partners in Profits” … Read the rest

Challenges of the Single-Person Agency


Meeting the challenges of seeing customers in person and networking with principals and customers were just a couple of the dilemmas detailed by reps participating in a MANA special interest group teleconference for single‑person agencies.

Over a three-day period, MANA members shared their experiences as they navigate a post-Covid selling world where getting in front of customers is more challenging than it’s ever been before.

Perhaps the situation that many single-person agencies find themselves in today was best described by one rep who boasts a long tenure in the profession. “I’ve been a rep since I was in diapers in … Read the rest

Taking a Detour Back Home


Just as so many others who grew up in and around a family‑owned independent rep business, Jeffrey Blumenauer ultimately settled into a rep career.

Before following that path, however, he took a serious detour which has provided substantial benefits for himself and for the Blumenauer Corporation, located in Ocoee, Florida. “I grew up in the business,” explains Blumenauer, the third generation of his family’s company. “My time growing up was spent sweeping in the warehouse and in the office stuffing envelopes with invoices. I can remember meeting with principals as a kid and going on sales calls across Florida with … Read the rest

The Four Biggest Enemies of Sales Success and What to Do


Sales success simply boils down to talking to enough of the right people the right way. The right people are people who have a need or desire for what you have, they have the ability to make a decision on what you have, and they have the means to invest in what you have. Speaking to them the right way refers to saying the right things all the way through the sales process from getting and keeping their attention on the first call all the way through closing the sale.

All of that said, here are four major roadblocks that … Read the rest

Another Landmine in the Rep’s Path


Major problems in your business come from many “little things.”

Avoiding disaster should be a primary task of every member of the rep company team. You have all worked very hard to build a successful agency and position that agency with very good principals. Unfortunately, the world of the independent rep business is full of landmines that cause temporary or permanent damage to your business.

To follow is a landmine for you to think about as you are planning the operation and functioning of your agency.

Major Changes in Agency Management

Major changes in agency management must be communicated effectively … Read the rest

#1 Mistake Salespeople Make — Strategy Instead of Tactics


Over the decades that I’ve been involved in sales, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of salespeople. Certain negative tendencies — mistakes that salespeople make — keep surfacing. Here’s number one of my top five, not necessarily in order of priority. See to what degree you (or your sales force) may be guilty of it.

Overconcern With Strategy Instead of Tactics

Gather a group of salespeople together around a coffee maker and listen to the conversation. After the obligatory complaints about all types of things, the conversation inevitably drifts to questions of strategy.

How do I accomplish this in that … Read the rest

Be Wary of the RFP Trap


Whenever you have a lot of disruption in the world, it usually ends up disrupting your business and your job too. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had the pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues, and now a major war in Europe.

During periods of tumult, you’re likely to see some buyers and sellers behaving differently. As an example, I’ve had a few clients tell me that they’ve had more clients asking them to answer Requests for Proposals (RFPs) lately.

Those who know me well know I am not a fan of RFPs. I rarely respond to them. Clients who … Read the rest

A Walking Nightmare: When Bosses Practice Selective Accountability


The other day I was catching up with one of my freelancers who seemed on the down and outs. After getting her to talk, she explained that in one of her other jobs, the boss was not holding the entire team accountable.

It was well known, even within their HR, that the boss heavily practiced selective accountability; they were partial to only one person on the team. Of course, it just so happened to be the smallest contributor to the workload and the least technically qualified or experienced. This meant that their work was frequently reallocated to other persons with … Read the rest

Six Ways Great Salespeople Master Their Time


Who is in charge during your day, you or time?

As a sales professional, your time is valuable. And wasted time is wasted money.

Let’s explore six time management skills that could propel you to the top.

1. Be Ruthless

Top performers master their time. You see there’s two ways to look at the day. You can either control the day or the day can control you. Top performers control the day. They do this by being relentless with how they use their time. They are ruthless in terms of scheduling and following a process. This way, there is no … Read the rest

How to Get Great Customer Service From Service Providers


How can you get great customer service? How can you get an employee to go above and beyond to help you? How can you get an employee to work on your behalf because they like you?

Employees can work miracles for customers who appreciate them and are friendly and respectful. Be one of those customers.

If you want to get great customer service — which is something we all want — I recommend that you take the following steps. And they work whether you are conversing face to face, on the phone, or by email.

Step 1 — Be FriendlyRead the rest

The Other Side of Communication


There have been innumerable articles in this publication and others concerning the communication that manufacturers should expect from their reps. There’s another side to this subject, however. When several reps were asked what they truly value in the types of communication that they receive from their principals, here were some of their reactions.

“While most of our principals are fairly small, putting out a regularly scheduled newsletter would obviously be a major undertaking for them. What they do, however, is to religiously let us know anything and everything important that’s happening with them that can impact our work in the … Read the rest

Invisible Terms in Your Contract


Most contracts contain a choice of law provision.

Typically, a choice of law provision identifies the law of a particular state that will govern the interpretation and enforcement of the contract. This provision is one of the most important and neglected provisions contained in a contract. By choosing the law of one state over another, the parties are, in effect, placing terms in their contract that are invisible to them at the time the contract is signed (unless the party has received advice from his attorney) but that will become quite apparent if the parties become involved in a dispute … Read the rest