Lights, Camera, Action — Are You Ready for Business in the Post-Covid World?


My dad was, and continues to be, a great mentor for this second-generation manufacturers’ representative firm owner. Over the years, he has imparted a great deal of wisdom gleaned from years on the road and refined by countless hours of reflective windshield time prior to the days of cell phones and satellite radio. One of those kernels of wisdom, along with one of his prognostications, have both been at the forefront of my mind when thinking about how to best do business in this brave new world in which we find ourselves post-Covid. The wisdom is more of a mantra … Read the rest

Market Development Fees


In this issue of Agency Sales appears a report on a MANAchat devoted to the importance of market development fees. While such fees have been in practice for some time either as retainers, draws or some other form of agreement between rep and manufacturer, as time has gone on they’ve become more important for a couple of reasons.

First, consider for a moment the current environment that reps are called upon to work in. As MANA can attest, behavioral and business restrictions evolving from the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a marked increase in the number of manufacturers seeking to … Read the rest

Don’t Forget to Sell to Inside Staff


We have all been there — it’s 1:30 p.m., the car is hot, the A/C still cooling down the sweltering interior. The taste of a wolfed-down lunch lingers as you growl at Siri or Google to please dial the correct number. It is Thursday, the customer from this morning’s call is irritated because their shipment is late, and you have approximately 10 minutes to call the factory and try to resolve the late shipment before your 1:45 p.m. conference call which you will take while driving to your next appointment (for which you are already running late due to the … Read the rest

The Importance and Effectiveness of Rep Councils


Just the other week, I was on an airplane traveling to a trade show. Given the close quarters of the typical airline arrangement, I could not help but overhear the conversation between the two gentlemen sitting behind me. One worked for a large consulting firm (you would know their name), and the other as a recruiter for a prominent business school out of New York City. Both men were senior in their positions, and were discussing what business books they had read recently, what talks they had attended, and the ever-popular discussions regarding the challenges of working with millennials.

I … Read the rest

Parenting Your Business Towards Meaningful Succession


The timing of this article could not be better — since I have just earned CPMR (Certified Professional Manufacturer’s Representative) status through MRERF, which I highly recommend, the topic of strategic planning is top-of-mind. In our world of 30-day contracts, it is easy to forget that our businesses are long-term entities — just because our contracts are 30 days doesn’t mean that our businesses have to be the same.

After all, the long-term promise to ourselves of building a legacy through our businesses is driven by our intent, rather than the whims of external actors.

Talking about succession may sound … Read the rest

Defining the Perfect Customer


I have to admit, when I was sent the prompt for this month’s “Editorial in the Field,” I was a bit jealous of the authors for the two previous editions of this column. Their columns were titled, “Defining the Perfect Rep” and “Defining the Perfect Principal.” Those are easy one line columns — the answers are, in order, “my agency” and “the one with millions in existing business, who pays on time and doesn’t ask any questions.”

I’m here all week, folks.

Joking aside, all three of these columns are equally difficult. The definition of good is entirely subjective — … Read the rest

The More Things Change, The More They #staythesame


In the October 2016 issue of Agency Sales, Charles Cohon — MANA CEO — provided an excerpt from MANA’s Executive Secretary, P. Edwin Thomas (MANA Minute — “MANA Featured in Billboard Magazine”). I am glad that Charley quoted Mr. Thomas for two reasons: (a) I learned a new word (multifarious), and (b) I felt a connection to my rep brethren of the past in that I — and I think it is safe to say that many, if not all of us — share the same concerns that Mr. Thomas cited in his essay. The international role and responsibility Read the rest

The CRM Struggle


From a salesperson’s perspective, the old adage, “Nothing is certain save death and taxes,” needs to be modified. It should read, “For salespeople, nothing is certain save death, taxes, and hatred of entering data in my $%^&* CRM!”

It doesn’t matter if you are a one-person agency struggling with how to manage volumes of customer interaction data without spending hours each night in front of your computer, or the president of a large rep firm trying to get your outside salespeople to submit their opportunity reports. Both of these individuals have the same problem — their CRM is not creating … Read the rest

Having a Business Take Flight


The rep business was literally shortening my life. Three years and 160,000 miles later, I have wasted 150 days of my life staring at innumerable stupid bumper stickers, stick-figure families on SUV windows, and questionably road-worthy cars with sagging suspension. This is not the anticipated freedom of self-employment; this is insanity. Also titled: why I got my pilot’s license, and why you should stop wasting your time and get yours, too.

2010: As I sat in traffic — again — on a breezy, blue summer Friday afternoon six hours from home, I was rehashing this precise argument. Two years prior, … Read the rest

iPhone App Bolsters Outsourced Sales Forces’ Efforts


photo of John DavisMANA member designs an iPhone/iPad app for agents and principals that includes MANA content and supports the outsourced system of selling.

One MANA manufacturer member describes his representative network as a “force multiplier.” In other words, by deploying this network he is able to reach many more customers and have greater impact on those customers than if he had tried to make those sales calls directly. And he’s learned by experience that the best use of his time is working to support his network rather than trying to do their work for them.

Representatives who sell through wholesalers or distributors … Read the rest