Will the Customers Come Back?


When we narrow down the current COVID‑19 economic situation, we’re all in the same boat.

No matter who we are or what we do, getting back to doing business hinges on having customers. Whether we like it or not, there’s no guarantee they will be there. Although it may be disconcerting, here’s why:

  • Some customers will decide they don’t need us. Their situation will have changed and they’ve moved on.
  • Others will have found new solutions. Competition will be fierce with appealing options popping up everywhere.
  • More customers than we dare imagine will have simply disappeared, whether individuals or
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Letter to the Editor

COVID-19 Relief Programs Bypass Reps, Says MANA Member

I have been a MANA member since 2016, and have greatly benefitted from your services. My agency, North Central Manufacturing Solutions, represents suppliers of factory automation and test equipment, and sells to Fortune 500 manufacturers in the Upper Midwest.

I am sure that many MANA members are feeling the effects that the coronavirus has had on the economy. While almost all of us have fought and survived through economic downturns, we have not experienced “shelter-in-place,” which shuts down factories, and prevents suppliers from executing.

If shelter-in-place goes nationwide, and lasts for … Read the rest

During This COVID-19 Crisis, Thank Goodness We Have a Rep Sales Force


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Charlie Ingram, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Eriez Manufacturing, just shared with me his insights about how having a rep sales force is helping his company get through the COVID‑19 crisis.

Here’s what he had to say:

  • “Effective immediately, our home office employees have travel restrictions, so we can’t get our product and market sales managers into the field. Thank goodness we have a rep sales force to take care of our customers while our sales managers are grounded.”
  • “Customers are restricting sales visits, and at best those customers will be distracted. And while they’re distracted those customers will instinctively reach out to trusted resources with whom they have strong relationships. Those trusted sales resources are our manufacturers’ reps.”
  • “Even though visits to customers’ plants and offices are restricted, our reps will be in contact with customers by Skype, phone, email and texts. Nobody has enough regional managers to handle that volume of communication unless they have reps in the point position.”
  • “Because our reps represent multiple complementary non-competing lines they know what other manufacturers in our industry are doing and can consult with us on how the best practices from their other principals can be adopted by our company. We are in uncharted waters, and the things we are learning through our reps is invaluable.”
  • “And thank goodness for our rep council. At our request, each rep council member reached out to a group of our reps to gather real-time data about how customers are reacting, how customer needs are changing, and the trends developing throughout North America. We knew more and knew it faster than anyone fielding a direct sales force could have accomplished.”

Most of us knew all the arguments why reps are the most effective way to take products to market in normal circumstances. Now we know why reps are the best resource for manufacturers to have at their disposal during a crisis.