New From MANA — Endorsements!


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You say you are a great rep.
Who else says so?
You say you are a great manufacturer to represent.
Who else says so?

Who else says so? Now, other MANA members can say so, and MANA will showcase these endorsements where manufacturers looking for reps and reps looking for manufacturers can see them. MANA rep members can endorse manufacturer members. Manufacturer members can endorse rep members.

How can I give endorsements? Log in to the member area of the MANA website. The first link in the Member Toolbox is “Endorse a MANA member.” Pick the member you want to endorse and check the appropriate boxes.

Manufacturer Endorsing a Rep
☑ Increases our sales in their territory every year.
☑ Is one of our most professional reps.
☑ Provides us with field intelligence about our competitors and changes in our industry.
☑ Has great contacts with the customers in their territory.
☑ Is a valued addition to our rep council.
☑ Protects our long-term relationship with a solid succession plan.
☑ Gives us timely and informative updates on their company’s activities.

Rep Endorsing a Manufacturer
☑ Gives us timely and informative updates on their company’s activities.
☑ Respects and values our rep firm.
☑ Has an active, well-organized, and productive rep council.
☑ Always pays commission in full and on time.
☑ Ships our customers high-quality products, on time, at fair prices.
☑ Provides us with high-quality sales leads.
☑ Gave us a fair and balanced rep agreement.

What’s the best way to get an endorsement? Give an endorsement. Whomever you endorse will get an email to notify them that you have endorsed them and a link encouraging them to endorse you.

Want to endorse a company that is not a member? Invite them to join MANA! MANA is proud to add this feature to the many benefits of your MANA membership. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at


There’s Value in Trade Show Participation


Edited by Stephanie Bray

While we may not be 100 percent back to the pre-Covid normal, things have opened up and face-to-face events are happening again, just as MANA Board Chair Tommy Garnett’s May 2023 editorial shares with us (and encourages us to participate in). As a longtime colleague of Garnett’s, I consider him something of a mentor and role model; perhaps my enthusiasm for trade shows is at least in part due to him.

My previous article mentioned how successful MARN’s post trade show campaign was without covering the value of the trade show itself. And while following up … Read the rest

Finding Warmth in the Southwest


It was a desire to get out of the wet and cold of Oregon more than 20 years ago that led John Armstrong to make a move to Arizona and ultimately to open his own rep agency.

According to Armstrong, “Since he got out of the Navy in World War II, my dad was a plumber. He also was an apprenticeship instructor for many years. Following in his footsteps, I completed the plumbing apprenticeship program in 1991. It was at that time that I thought to myself ‘This is not a bad gig.’ I turned out of the apprenticeship program … Read the rest

MANAchats Tackle International and Single-Person Rep Firm Concerns


Business concerns specific to reps that work in an international arena and problems encountered by single-person rep firms were the subjects of two MANAchats conducted earlier this year.

“Look for the low-hanging fruit and be quick to build relationships.” That was just some of the advice that developed in a MANAchat devoted to the subject of reps — the majority of whom represented U.S. manufacturers internationally — working in an international arena.

Addressing the subject of low-hanging fruit, one rep explained, “For me, the Middle East represents the best low-hanging fruit. They have the most money and have an even … Read the rest

Letter to the Editor

Editor’s Note: This Letter to the Editor could not be more timely. Now, MANA rep members and manufacturer members can endorse each other, so reps like Jim Rinehart can see what other reps say about manufacturers contacting them for representation.

For more information about how to endorse a MANA member or get a MANA member to endorse you, see Charles Cohon’s “MANA Minute” editorial in this issue of Agency Sales magazine.

Hello Charles,

I am asking you for input on my search for a new principal. As a one-man band and a very successful rep organization, I take on few … Read the rest

How to Be the Top Sales Rep in Your Industry


Recently someone asked me how they can become the absolute best salesperson possible. This question caused me to go back and look at my 35-year sales journey in which I became a number-one sales rep in three industries during my sales career and number one in two more during my sales training career when I had to prove to two eventual clients my ideas would work in their industries too by outselling all their sales reps.

The plan below takes into account everything I’ve learned about what it takes to be number one in sales anywhere in any industry. It … Read the rest

Steps to an Effective Sales Process


All too often, salespeople are directed by the urgencies of the moment: A lead pops up, a customer calls with a problem or some paperwork to which you need to attend. They find themselves busily pursuing an agenda created by other people. They are busy, but too often with the wrong things.

The best salespeople, however, understand that sales happen as a result of methodically managing people through certain well-defined steps in a sales process. They have refined that process to the specifics of their selling situation, reflecting the uniqueness of their customers and their offerings, while at the same … Read the rest

How to Write Prospecting Messages


You’re in for a treat. I periodically dissect real-life prospecting messages sent by real sales reps. Today is one of those days!

Those who know me know I keep a file of bad prospecting emails. It’s one of my nerdy hobbies. In fact, I could probably create my own Smithsonian exhibit of poorly executed sales emails.

What qualifies a message as a bad prospecting email?

  1. Talking about features and benefits.
  2. Sales reps focusing on what’s valuable to them rather than what’s valuable to the prospect.
  3. Wasting the prospects’ time.

Today, we look at a prospecting email one of my friends … Read the rest

How to Prospect in a New Industry


You’ve been given a new territory, now it’s time to find a way to get business there. Let’s go through 10 steps to be successful prospecting in a new industry.

1. Know Your Value

What’s the solution you bring to your customers? We don’t sell a product/service, we sell an outcome.

2. What’s the Problem You’re Solving?

The value you bring is different from the problem. If the value is the solution, then the problem is, why do your customers need this? What’s the problem they’re trying to solve?

3. Am I Converting or Educating?

Convert means they’re currently buying … Read the rest

Overcoming Obstacles in Sales: Strategies for Success


Sales, an integral part of any business, can often seem like a field filled with numerous obstacles.

Every sales professional, regardless of industry or experience level, is bound to face challenges that impede their success. However, the ability to overcome these obstacles can set apart successful sales professionals from those who merely survive. My goal in this article is to focus on exploring various strategies to overcome common obstacles in sales.

Lack of Customer Interest

The most common issue sales professionals face is the lack of customer interest. Customers might not realize they need your product or service, or they … Read the rest

Keys for Success Selling Products to Architects and Engineers


What defines success for a manufacturer’s product representative who is selling to architects and engineers? Success is when a product representative is accepted as a trusted consultant and his manufacturer’s products are included in the specification as the standard of design.

Architects and their consulting engineers are important members of the team that is hired by a building owner to complete a project to meet a specific set of needs. Although architects do not write purchase orders, manufacturers of construction products must call on them to be sure their products are included in the building specifications. Here are key concepts … Read the rest

Always Rely on a Contract


MANA has been especially active over the last several months when it comes to conducting MANAcasts and MANAchats during which association members can network and share solutions to various concerns and problems.

More than once during those sessions, the subject of contracts between reps and their manufacturers comes up. To that point, there’s never a bad time to emphasize to both reps and their principals that it’s critical to have and rely upon the terms spelled out in a written contract between the two entities for the following reasons:

  • While personal relationships and handshakes are great, they should never serve
Read the rest

The Dangers of Keeping Secrets


Most contracts between a manufacturer and a sales representative contain a trade secret and confidential information provision. Typically, this provision is one-sided — it protects the trade secrets and confidential information of the manufacturer and fails to address any such information for the sales representative — generically describes categories of information, is overly broad and includes all or almost all the information of the manufacturer’s business and not just its true trade secrets and confidential information. It also has the sales representative admit that all categories of information are true trade secrets and confidential information, and that the sales representative … Read the rest

AIM/R Welcomes Three New Members Into Hall of Fame

The Association of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives (AIM/R) has inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame with the additions of Rick Banner, Stew Chaffee, and Mike Parham at the association’s annual conference in Miramar Beach, Florida, September 12-15, 2023.

Rick Banner was president and principal of Keyline Sales, Inc., a premier manufacturers’ representative agency in Southern California, from 1999 through 2016. He recently retired from his career in the plumbing industry, which began in 1974.

Banner served AIM/R as a board member, president in 2007-2008, and chairman and is one of AIMR’s first graduates of the Certified Professional Manufacturers … Read the rest