Introducing MANA’s Internet Honor Roll


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It’s always a pleasure to help a MANA member sort out a thorny problem and hear them say, “If there is ever anything I can do to help MANA, please let me know.”

MANA VP and GM Jerry Leth and I have probably heard this offer hundreds of times. But we rarely had a way to take those members up on their offers.

Now there is something we can ask for that MANA’s members can do to help MANA grow its membership. And we’ve come up with a way to thank MANA members who take the time to help.

How can you help? Put a link to MANA on your website!

How does this help? One of the ways that Google ranks the importance of is to count how many other websites link to The more websites that link to, the higher goes in Google search results.

Can I see an example of a link? Absolutely! MANA rep member Kelly Smith, Innovative Technical Sales, Tipp City, OH, wrote an excellent blog post that strongly endorses MANA as the “go-to” resource for finding reps and included a link to You can see the blog post at:

Need a MANA logo to include on your website? Let me know, and I’ll send it right away!

How will we thank you? Agency Sales magazine will publish a monthly Internet Honor Roll with the names of all MANA member companies that have a link to on their website.

How do I get listed? Add the link to your website, and email the details to

What can you do for MANA? This is what you can do for MANA! And then watch Agency Sales for your company’s name on MANA’s Internet Honor Roll.

MANA logos for your use are available at:

Eight Elements of a Powerful Partnership


“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” — Halford E. Luccock

MANA’s “Partners in Profits” philosophy has contributed to so many successful rep-manufacturer relationships that when I saw research giant Gallup Inc.’s recent “Eight Elements of a Powerful Partnership” article, I knew it would be a valuable resource.

According to Gallup, those eight elements are complementary strengths, a common mission, fairness, trust, acceptance, forgiveness, communication, and unselfishness. Let’s drill down and see how those elements build and support great rep-manufacturer relationships.

  • Complementary Strengths

Reps’ strengths include local market knowledge, access to local decision … Read the rest

Rep Gains Freedom He Sought


When he opened his agency doors 20 years ago, Steve VanDenBerg was hardly a stranger to the world of reps. As he recalls, “For several years, I was involved in inside sales for electronic distribution. I regularly met with reps and knew several older people who were reps. What was intriguing about what they did for a living was the fact they could go out there with complete freedom and do something they were interested in. I found that the reps I dealt with were free spirits who built their own customer base.”

Following that initial attraction, today VanDenBerg finds … Read the rest

MANAcast Examines Line Card Profitability


At the outset of his presentation during a MANAcast devoted to the subject of Line Card Profitability Analysis, MANA President/CEO Charley Cohon used the analogy of Olympic rowers to make a point.

According to Cohon, “Manufacturers’ representative firms have a lot in common with Olympic rowers. Just to qualify to compete we have to be fast, agile and impressive performers.

“But when it comes to line card profitability analysis, some of us forget what Olympic rowers know: To be winners, you have to take the boat out of the water regularly to clean and wax the bottom. And before the … Read the rest

Build a “Fortress Rep Firm”


There are so many things that can cause trouble for a rep firm — there is no way to list all of them or to be smart enough to provide solutions. This article points out a few major threats and suggests solutions.

The Goal — Build a Fortress Rep Firm

From the answering of the phone at a rep firm to the communications with each principal, every single person working for the rep firm must be a part of the fortress.

Nothing is more important than making sure everyone — receptionist, janitor, lowest person on the customer service team — … Read the rest

The Talk — Part 3


This talk will be a little different than the talk about the birds and the bees. This talk is for young adults entering the world on their own. It might also be a good reset for adults struggling to find their place in the world. I have often reflected on my life in an effort to better understand how I arrived at my current station.

Financial Intelligence

There is no secret to becoming wealthy and there is no magic to it either. However, there is a trillion-dollar industry focused on convincing us otherwise. The financial industry wants your money to … Read the rest

Competing With Other Suppliers Who Have a Lower Price


Question: How do you make inroads with a prospect who is happy with another supplier who is providing a similar product at a lower price? The product is of lower quality but is perceived as the same.

Answer: Sounds like a tough nut to crack. Let’s think about this together. The first question I have is this: Is the potential of the account worth the large expenditure of time and effort that it will probably take to make progress in it?

Some accounts just aren’t worth it. It’s okay to make a cold-blooded business decision not to pursue some accounts … Read the rest

How to Keep Your Sales Simple


This is not the time of year to boil the ocean.

Really, there’s no time of the year to boil the ocean. It’s time to keep your activities and processes simple. So what works best if simplicity is the name of the game? Check out these eight strategies.

1. Sell Urgency

Urgency works. Your customers have situations and things they need to accomplish this year. Make it easy for them to do business with you.

They may have money that they need to spend. Help them spend it! They may need to put what you offer in place before moving … Read the rest

A Successful Sales Representative Must Manage Time


A successful sales representative must be an efficient manager of time, whether they are a direct hire or an independent manufacturers’ representative. Time is a sales representative’s major asset, so they must optimize their time to be a sales leader. Efficient time management requires planning.

An efficient time management system begins with an Annual Marketing Plan that includes broad objectives that are in tune and coordinated with a corporate plan. Using this broad plan, the time management system then incorporates prioritized daily, weekly and monthly planning lists. Each list has a similar format with the daily list having the most … Read the rest

Being New Is Not an Excuse for Lazy Sales Performance


If you’ve read past articles I’ve written, you know I cannot tolerate laziness from staff or leaders. Nope, nah, nada! Well recently I was told that low sales performance on the job is okay for new team members.

Huh? Let me just start off by saying being new is not an excuse for lazy sales performance! Let’s unpack why newness should never ever be tied to lowering your ability to make sales. Grab your coffee mug, I promise, my case story is a whopper.

The Event That Led to the Excuse

Once upon a time, in a recent sales session, … Read the rest

Aim Above the Mark to Hit the Mark


Even though we’re into the month of March, there’s still time to think about the months to come this year.

We will likely experience some economic adversity in 2023, but there’s a good chance you’ll thrive if you have the right approach. It’s time to start planning for your production this year. Today I have some best practices for you.

Before we get into the particulars, please know that goals must sit upon a solid foundation. In other words, your goals should move you closer to your dreams while honoring your core values and synthesizing them with your mission and … Read the rest

There’s Nothing Like Working Together


It’s no secret that reps don’t always react in a positive manner when one of their principal’s regional sales managers asks them to schedule joint sales calls.

One manufacturer, however, couldn’t miss the opportunity to pass along positive comments she received from a rep on his RSM. According to the rep, “The sales manager was very upfront when he told me not to be wary of selling other lines that I represent — when the opportunity presented itself. But the main purpose of his joint sales call visit was to make appointments with especially good customers for his products and … Read the rest

Arbitration — A Four‑Letter Word to Plaintiffs


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to alternatives by which parties can keep a legal dispute out of the public court systems — Superior Courts in each state and U.S. District Courts around the country. That sounds like a very good idea on paper; but certain ADR agreements can be a death sentence for a good plaintiff’s case, depending on the level of damages.

Principals will normally include an ADR clause in their representation agreements. That might include agreements between the parties to mediate a dispute (submit the dispute to a “neutral” who tries to bring the parties together in a … Read the rest

ISA23 Convention to Be the Best Networking Event in the Industrial Supply Industry

ISA (Industrial Supply Association) is proud to host ISA23, the leading industrial supply convention of 2023, from April 17-19 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown and Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

ISA23 is the perfect opportunity for companies within the industrial supply channel — including distributors, manufacturers, industrial manufacturers’ representatives (IMRs), and service providers — to network and build relationships with their peers and grow their network of contacts.

This year’s event is all about networking and helping attendees make valuable connections through a mix of different experiences. ISA23 will feature a charity golf outing on the championship golf course … Read the rest

AIM/R Comes Full Circle at Sandestin

AIM/R 2023 ConferenceAIM/R (Association of Independent Manufacturers’/Representatives, Inc.) will hold its 51st Annual Conference (September 12-15, 2023) at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida.

The theme is “Future’s So Bright!” The planning has begun for the 2023 Conference Chair — Michelle Lewnes-Dadas, CPMR, Preferred Sales, Inc. — and the Conference Committee. This year’s event brings a bit of nostalgia. Florida was the site for the 2000 and 2011 Annual Conferences, also led by Preferred Sales, Inc., team members Pete Lewnes, CPMR, and Alan Guidish, CPMR.

Mark your calendar now. Registration, housing and sponsorships will open in early March … Read the rest