Meditations on MANA

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The days are becoming short marking my tenure as ex-officio past MANA Chairman of the Board, and also as a past director representing MANA for constituents in my district — and all reps and manufacturers, for that matter. I can say with conviction that I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to play an active role in MANA over these last seven years.

I have also been blessed to speak with and meet literally thousands of independent professional sales representatives. My path has possibly even crossed with some of you who are reading this very issue of Agency Sales. Each of those conversations has helped me learn something and to grow as both a sales rep — and as a professional. I also believe that all of those small influences have assisted in guiding me through my tenure on the MANA Board. They have enabled me to reflect in my work what you — both the sales rep and the manufacturer who uses reps — need and desire from this organization.

Wow, it is incredible what MANA has accomplished during the last seven years! The list of highlights has grown literally into the hundreds. And while all of them are important to what MANA has done to help the members of this organization and our profession, below are a few of my favorites that I am exceptionally proud and honored to have been a part of:

  1. New webinars, teleforums and seminars to educate reps and manufacturers.
  2. The development of a new website with too many benefits to mention here. Have you tried the new search feature of RepFinder or the manufacturer directory? Check out www.manaonline.org.
  3. Three all-rep Keystone conferences, and now MANA­fest conferences that provide higher learning, community and networking.
  4. Improvements to Agency Sales, bringing you more of what you have asked for.
  5. Updated rep-manufacturer contract guidelines for a win-win philosophy in today’s environment.
  6. New and updated commission protection acts in 12 states.
  7. Becoming a vital part and a contributor to the family of sister associations — both domestic and abroad — and the profession at large.
  8. The hiring of a new MANA CEO.
  9. The purchase of the MANA headquarters building.
  10. The value proposition of all that MANA now offers its members, as stated on our MANA line card. If you have not seen all that MANA offers currently, contact MANA headquarters and ask for a copy. You will be astounded at what you are not yet taking advantage of!

I am honored to have been associated with three past chairmen, who possessed the exceptional skills required to perform their duties as chairman of the MANA Board: Bryant Callahan, Pat Cobb and Mack Sorrells.

I am honored to have been associated with three MANA CEO/Presidents: Lionel Diaz, Joe Miller and Bryan Shirley. Words cannot express what these three individuals have done for the independent sales repre­sentative and manufacturers who use them.

I am honored to have served on a Board of fellow rep agency owners. Each of these 20 or so individuals with whom I served over the past six years brought a unique perspective. I have thoroughly enjoyed each conversation, discussion and debate. MANA and our profession are stronger because of it. I know the time and emotional investment necessary to serve is huge, and I thank each of you for volunteering to make ours a better profession.

MANA was a strong, vibrant and dedicated orga­nization when I started on the Board of Directors in 2003. I believe that statement is still valid today, and I will add that it has grown even stronger with the quality of management, highly effective staff (they are the fine individuals who get it done on a daily basis), exceptional Board members and the quality members (that’s you) it currently has!

I believe I am leaving my active role on the MANA Board in the more-than-capable hands of your Chair­man, David Ice. I have the utmost confidence in David to continue to guide MANA in this great direction.

In closing, I will repeat what I have told MANA CEOs many times: “I am just a blip on the screen in the overall picture of MANA.” I can only hope that my blip has made a positive mark on your world. I know that MANA and all of you have had a positive influence on me.

Do You Get It?

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Are you really a Top 10?

I am constantly amazed at the high quality of individuals I meet at rep functions. It is obvious that the highest 10% — the cream of the crop — understand the need for continual education.

They also understand that their education comes in two forms:

  1. Networking with other high-caliber reps.
  2. Increasing their knowledge on a wide variety of pertinent topics.

It is interesting to note that I see the same approximate faces of reps at these functions. Behavioral scientists refer to them as conscious competents. Or said another way, they are: Reps who … Read the rest

Making the Switch

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Going from Direct Sales to Contracted Outside Sales Reps

The theme of Agency Sales magazine this month focuses on manufacturers who switch from a Direct Sales Force to contracted outside Sales Reps. While there have been hundreds of pages in books dedicated to this very topic, I’d like to highlight some of the more important points.

First, manufacturersbe certain you are making this sales philosophy change for the right reasons, such as:

  • Lower total cost of sales and lower internal “soft” costs.
  • More predictable sales costs that go up or down with sales.
  • Long-term sales rep commitment
  • Read the rest