Live! In-Person! Finally!

One of the best parts of being MANA’s CEO is the opportunity to have conversations with MANA members. Conversations with reps. Conversations with manufacturers who are already working with reps or who want to learn how to work with reps.

For the last two years, most of those conversations have been on the phone or over Zoom. It’s just not the same.

Now MANA’s first Live and In-Person event in two years is on the calendar!

We hope you can join us for breakfast from 8-10 a.m. on October 24* at the Hilton Garden Inn O’Hare Airport and network with … Read the rest

What Makes a Great Principal?

I recently saw the movie Elvis, the story about the rise and fall of Elvis Presley. There is a man in the movie by the name of Tom Parker (“The Colonel”), played by Tom Hanks. The Colonel latched on to Elvis because he could see early on how talented he was. The Colonel, of course, had ulterior motives for connecting with Elvis, but I won’t tell you what those were in case you want to see the movie yourself. The Colonel took 50 percent of all the money that Elvis made. Needless to say, he “used Elvis.” As I Read the rest

Keeping It in the Family

Mark Finder’s origins as a rep in the fastener business are probably similar to those of many other reps in other industries. His father opened the B. Finder Associates, Inc., agency after sitting on the manufacturer’s side of the desk for more than two decades. Once his father opened the agency, headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Finder, as so many other “sons of the owner,” gravitated to the business.

B. Finder Associates, Inc., founded in 1969, has thrived and prospered owing mainly to well-established relationships with principals and customers. According to Finder, “My father started in the fastener business in 1946, … Read the rest

Taking a Chance

It’s tempting to rely on well-known quotes and clever sayings to best describe what one rep is currently going through.

For instance, consider:
“We must either find a way or make one.”
— Hannibal, Carthaginian general and statesman

Or, how about:
“Ain’t no chance if you don’t take it.”
— Guy Clark, American songwriter and folk singer

And finally:
“If someone gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
— Anonymous, unless someone wants to step forward and claim credit

To a certain extent they all fit the path one rep is taking when it comes to her efforts to bring what she … Read the rest

Winning and Losing

Winning is outperforming the competition or overcoming the desire to quit. Every person wants to quit at some point. Humans are predisposed to quitting thanks to homeostasis because the exertion or stress we incur when competing takes us out of our equilibrium (homeostasis). The cells of the human body are always focused on balance. Stressors take us out of balance. The first step to winning is overcoming a physiological predisposition to pursue the path of least resistance.

Some people have no trouble overcoming physiological resistance, while others will only act out of desperation. Key number one to winning is your … Read the rest

Reasons Why I Love Sales More Than Ever

I’ve been in sales for more than 30 years and I love it now more than ever.

That definitely wasn’t my attitude when I started out. So why do I love it so much, and now even more than before?

Let me walk you through 10 things I love about sales — which ones resonate with you?

1. Helping People Achieve Things

My definition of sales is helping others see and achieve what they didn’t think was possible. That’s what I love about sales. I get to help others make the impossible possible. And I get to do that every … Read the rest

Social Discomfort and Networking

On your way to a networking event, have you ever worried, “What if I don’t know anyone?”

While it might make you uncomfortable, not knowing anyone forces you to use your networking skills. Too many people go to a function and sit in the corner with their friends, co-workers, spouse, whoever. That’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do that, just go to a restaurant.

If you find networking a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many professionals who are good at networking have had to work hard to make it look that way. Sure, some people are naturally … Read the rest

Are You Focusing Enough on Your Top Salespeople?

I’ve always reveled in the energy I felt out on the sales floor when I worked corporate. It always felt as though we were constantly training for the next big game, you know? But, just as with football, not all players on your team will be created equal. We’ve spoken about what to do about employees with bad performances, it’s now time we focus on your first string, your top salespeople. Why? Well, they’re the ones that win the games, they’re your Tom Brady, Jerry Rice. You need the best of the best to inspire and lead your team to … Read the rest

Mistakes Salespeople Make — Part III

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 numbers four and five, not necessarily in order of priority. See to what degree you (or your sales force) may be guilty of them.

#4 Mistake: Poor Questioning

This is a variation of the third mistake, contentment with the superficial. I am absolutely astonished at the lack of thoughtfulness that I often see on the part of salespeople. Some use questions like sledgehammers, splintering the relationship and bruising the sensibility of … Read the rest

How to Hire Sales Reps

Three times in the past two weeks, prospects or clients have asked me about hiring salespeople; so, here are my tips.

Keys to Hiring Sales Reps

Tip #1: Start with people skills.

If someone lacks people skills, they will never be able to sell effectively.

Tip #2: Look for self-esteem, self-confidence, work ethic, integrity, and the right attitude.

After people skills, these are the key character traits. These can’t be trained; people have them or they don’t. You have to look for these and test for them in your hiring process.

Tip #3: Be wary of unemployed salespeople.

Unless someone’s … Read the rest

Reviewing Employee Performance

If you are in a managerial position, one of the most important tasks you have is to coach your employees. You must do whatever is necessary to ensure that you have a team made up of players who have the skills, training and motivation to be the best they can be.

An important part of coaching includes reviewing your employees’ performance. In order to do this, you must know what your employees are doing and how well they are performing. We all need benchmarks, personally and professionally. It’s like a road map: You are here — and you want to … Read the rest

Looking for “Reinvention”

The president of an electrical products company recently emphasized how important it was for his fellow manufacturers to be on the lookout for rep firms that have reinvented themselves.

According to the executive, the kind of rep that he looks to go to market with is one that operates in a lean and efficient manner. “The pressure for cost reductions in our marketplaces will certainly not subside. As a result, we’ve got to challenge everything we’ve always done. Once you do that you’ll be surprised at what you can do without.”

In the course of challenging everything you do, he … Read the rest

How Signing a Sales Representative Agreement Is Like Buying a House

Imagine you are buying a house. Let’s say it costs $400,000, so you put down 20 percent and get a mortgage for the rest. You renovate the kitchen. House prices go up. Three years after you bought the house, it is easily worth more than $500,000.

Would you buy the house and renovate the kitchen if the seller could take back the house on 30 days’ notice? Of course not. For most readers, this question will seem rhetorical.

Now imagine you take on a new line. You train your sales force on the products and spend time introducing them to … Read the rest