As Long as You’re There Anyway….


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“I just got a call from a prospective principal who has an exciting product but no existing sales in my territory,” said the MANA rep member who wrote to me for assistance.

“The manufacturer said, ‘You’re calling on those customers anyway. It doesn’t cost you anything to mention my product while you are there.’ Can you help me write an email that explains opportunity cost?”

This is a common problem, so I am sharing my response in this issue of Agency Sales magazine.

Let’s say that you have a line called Alpha. Historically, if you make five sales calls to promote Alpha, you earn an average of $1,000 in commissions. So every sales call you make to sell Alpha products earns you $200.

Let’s also say that you take a pioneering line called Beta. And you know from experience that it will take a year of promoting an unknown brand before customers get comfortable enough to start to buy it. During the first year, you earn zero dollars for each Beta sales call.

When you go into a customer to make a sales call, you can either promote Alpha and make an average of $200 or promote Beta and make zero dollars.

You lose out on the $200 average commission you would have made if you had promoted Alpha every time you promoted Beta. So $200 is your opportunity cost when you make a Beta sales call.

That is why reps who take on a pioneering line frequently receive a monthly Market Development Fee (MDF). The MDF contributes toward offsetting the rep’s opportunity cost when they take on a pioneering line that may not pay any commission during the first year a rep takes it on.

To learn more about Market Development Fees, visit the “Steps to Rep Professionalism” program on the MANA website ( See step 3, “Developing/Pioneering New Markets With Professional Manufacturers’ Representatives.”

Not the Only Woman in the Room Anymore


Last year’s Agency Sales articles about MANA’s 75th anniversary allowed me to mull over how MANA, the rep industry, and I have been reinvented over and over during my 29 years as a manufacturers’ rep. I am excited to share my perspective with you on these changes.

When I became a manufacturers’ rep, this was already a great industry, and MANA was its acknowledged gold standard. Today our industry has become even better, and I am proud to say that MANA remains its most important supporter and resource. I know I am not alone in this thinking.

My rep journey … Read the rest

Aquest “Waits” for No One


Talk to Phil Roland, who opened the doors to his rep firm a good 36 years ago, and before you know it, you’ve received a healthy dose of enthusiasm, confidence, and an appreciation for the necessity to embrace change. In effect, perhaps his agency’s company philosophy is best incorporated in the following: “‘Wait’ is a four-letter word we do not tolerate; we constantly push ourselves, our principals, and our customers. We are not for everyone — we are an ‘acquired taste.’”

Roland founded Aquest in 1986 as a natural outgrowth of his always wanting to work for himself. “Following an … Read the rest

ALOTO Members Share Experiences


When members of “A League of Their Own” (ALOTO), MANA’s Special Interest Group for women manufacturers’ representatives, virtually got together late last year, several of their shared areas of concern clearly mirrored those that are heard from the association’s general population. Interestingly, in response to the question, “Is there anything different about being a female vs. a male manufacturers’ rep?” one of the most common observations made by members of the group was, “I don’t notice any difference in being a female agency owner. There are no situations where we are treated any differently, and I have no problems getting … Read the rest

Building Positive Relationships With Rep Principals


Part I: Tactics to Bring You Closer

An independent manufacturers’ representative must maintain strong relationships with the principals they represent to be successful and profitable. This relationship is critically important with primary principals whose product sales represent a large share of a rep’s business, yet it is also important to build relationships with those secondary, smaller manufacturers, whose products are complementary to the primary principals.

A strategy for building these principal relationships needs to be developed and maintained.

To be smart, any independent manufacturers’ representative should always remember the following tactics:

  • Agree on a fair contract.
  • Maintain regular communication.
  • Rep-principal
Read the rest

How to Become a Top-Performing Salesperson


Anybody can become a top-performing salesperson.

It’s not what you sell. It’s the why and the how you sell that makes it happen.

First, why do you sell? Because you’re helping customers achieve things that they didn’t think were possible. Next, your how is the process that you use. Let’s dive in on both.

1. Mindset

This is why I wrote the book, A Mind for Sales, because it’s all focused around your mindset in terms of being able to achieve because you know you can.

If you doubt yourself going into a transaction, your customers will doubt you … Read the rest

Keys to Cultivating Meaningful Friendships


Humans are social creatures. We crave companionship and belonging. Friendship is part of the human experience and can be one of the most rewarding aspects of life.

Have you ever thought about the best strategy for cultivating meaningful friendships? I have spent the majority of my career learning about people. This study has primarily focused on understanding what motivates people and how we most effectively connect. It occurred to me that there should be a set of guidelines for establishing and maintaining meaningful friendships. My hope is that this list helps you build deeper and more meaningful friendships or at … Read the rest

How to Massively Increase Your Business


There’s an idea I share during my speeches that massively increases the business of everyone who follows it. It is not for the faint of heart and it takes some work, but it will significantly grow your business if you’re willing to do it.

Many of you are going to groan, wince, swear, or do all three when you hear this. Few people will be willing to do it. Please don’t be fooled by its simplicity: after all, most problems have simple solutions, we as humans just like to complicate them so we have an excuse for a lack of … Read the rest

Prospecting Is the Lifeblood of Sales


Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales and is generally the most important thing a sales professional does. Success or failure in sales can usually be traced — one way or another — back to prospecting.

Given how important prospecting is to sales success, I tend to worry about sales pros this time of year. Why? Because they get too busy to prospect, or at least they think they’re too busy to prospect. When you’re super busy, it’s easy to put off prospecting. If you do that, you’ll pay the price a couple of months later.

Top producers consider prospecting to … Read the rest

This Is the Worst Sales Mistake Ever


I love watching sports — my oh my, do I love it; there’s rarely a dull moment on TV. I was recently watching an international track and field meet where countries from all around the world compete. I got particularly drawn into the sprint relay. While watching it, I noticed the firm parallel between dropping the baton and making the worst sales mistake ever.

Allow me to explain.

The Mantra for the Worst Sales Mistake

Picture this, you’re racing down the track, baton in hand, your team member’s arms are outstretched waiting; the crowd is screaming your name. Then it … Read the rest

How to Treat a Rep


In the course of an interview with a rep that focused on his long-standing relationship with one principal, the rep volunteered that while there were many reasons why the relationship has weathered the test of time, there were three very important attributes the principal possessed that the rep valued:

  • “The principal’s in-house rep-support teams are outstanding. When we contact them there is no problem left unsolved, no question left unanswered.”
  • “They generously support us in our joint field visits to customers, and they always allow us to take the lead in presentations to customers.”
  • “They have insisted that we complete
Read the rest

Start at the End: Planning for Termination of the Principal-Representative Relationship


No one likes to think about the potential end of a business relationship just when they finally succeeded in getting it off the ground. But for independent sales representatives, addressing the rep’s termination rights at the beginning can make the whole relationship with the principal work better, can extend the duration of the relationship and can protect the rep’s investment of time and resources in developing business for the principal.

So, you’re a rep in contract negotiations with a new principal that could substantially expand your business and bottom line. Great! You’re probably focused on primary issues like commission rates, … Read the rest