Another Side of the Discussion


A MANA member recently wrote to say that most of the articles on “Consultative Selling” (CS) appearing in Agency Sales magazine were written by those who did not have to make a living selling. He claimed CS is just another phrase for “customer mooching selling.” I know how the writer feels because I, too, sold process equipment where one had to spend months or years consulting with customer engineers prior to the procurement department going out for competitive bid. I was sometimes thrown under the bus by the customer’s purchasing department later and received zip for my efforts when my … Read the rest

Analyzing the Manufacturers’ Rep‑Principal Relationship

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As the manufacturer views the marketplace, he’s always got two goals firmly in his sights — achieving increased sales and profits. To reach those goals he relies upon the services of a professional sales force. That’s where the choices begin. He can go either of two ways when it comes to interfacing with prospects and customers:

  • Hire direct employees.
  • Outsource the sales function by contracting with an independent manufacturers’ rep agency.

Regardless of which path is followed, the manufacturer must be mindful of the fact that management of an outsourced sales force is significantly different from managing employees. How the … Read the rest

How Motivating Is a Commission Cut?


I confess. In a past life as general manager of a division of a Fortune 500 company with an outsourced sales force, I was tempted to cut rep commissions in response to global competition and the falling sales of a mature product line. The other bright idea I had was to “save” over $100,000 per year by making two major accounts house accounts. Fortunately, one of our best reps, who would not have been affected by the house account change, talked me out of both decisions. He used the same arguments I use here. If you are a manufacturing executive … Read the rest

Editorial in the Field


After months of struggling with this decision, I have decided to retire to a life of part-time consulting, family activities and service to my church. After 8½ years of leading this organization and being the architect of our strategic plan, I leave with mixed emotions. But this is the right thing to do, and it’s time for someone with more energy to lead us to the next level.

Helen Degli-Angeli, executive vice-president of MANA will function as interim CEO while the Executive Committee of MANA conducts its search. Helen has been with MANA for 30 years, has completed the CPMR … Read the rest

Editorial in the Field


A recent survey of MANA’s associate members (principals) showed that MANA has been only partially successful in its manufacturer education program. This does not come as a surprise, and looking at this from the standpoint of the glass being half full, I was somewhat encouraged by the results. But we have more work to do together.

Understand this: We’ll never convince every principal that treating reps as “Partners in Profits” (PIP) is beneficial to profitability. But we will keep trying with your help. How can you help? Get your principals to join MANA and attend one of our seminars … Read the rest

Partners in Profits or Adversaries?


How some manufacturers destroy bottom lines with short-term thinking.

The business press has commented regularly about the quarterly earnings, short‑term management philosophy of U.S. companies versus the longer term and strategic approach of public concerns in other countries. Fortunately, many companies that use reps take the more strategic approach, which includes treating their outsourced sales force as partners.

We heard from a couple of MANA rep firm members recently that their manufacturers decided to arbitrarily change the terms of the representation agreement. In one case, the proposed contract revision was to change commissions from a percentage of the net sales … Read the rest

Full Service: Gas Stations, Car Washes, Rep Agencies


Everybody at least as old as I am, raise your hand! If your hand’s up, you’re old enough to remember service stations. For all of you young executives, that was where we used buy gas for our cars.

There were service stations on every corner, and when you pulled in, the attendant came running out to make the sale. He would ask if you wanted regular or premium and then begin filling your gas tank while you sat in the driver’s seat and watched as he washed your windshield, checked under the hood and, if you asked, adjusted your tire … Read the rest