The Dreaded Word to a Rep: “We Are Going to Split Your Commission With….”


There are primarily several types of situations where split commissions might pop up in today’s manufacturing world, including rep-to-rep split commissions and manufacturer-to-rep split commissions. No manufacturers’ rep particularly likes the discussion in either situation, but it is a topic that needs to be open for discussion.

Rep-to-Rep Split Commissions

We have all been approached by a fellow rep that has an opportunity that fits nicely in with one of our exclusive manufacturers. Keep in mind that I am not talking about an agency-sub-rep relationship. The conversation typically starts with, “I have a lead I’d like to throw your way,” … Read the rest

Technology — Embrace It or Die!


It is to be expected that with any major change in the way the independent manufacturers’ representative conducts his business that change is going to be accompanied by negatives and positives. So it is with the continued impact that technology and the tools that travel in technology’s wake.

At one time (at the beginning of my career as a rep) the agent set forth from his office on a daily basis armed with an itinerary of sales calls that had to be completed that day. What he had in front of him was a full day of across-the-desk personal contact … Read the rest

WOW, Have Times Changed!


It seems like the past 12 years of 2000 have given the rep business many challenges and changes. Maybe the ’80s and ’90s had these same challenges? But that was a long time ago and memory fades as I get older.

One of the biggest issues today is principals — keeping them and getting new ones that know how to work with manufacturers’ representatives. As principals become more sophisticated, they add non-industry personnel to their boards of directors, such as lawyers, bankers, etc. One of the first questions they ask is, “Why are you paying these guys such large commissions?” … Read the rest

“We Have House Accounts”


That dreaded phrase you hear on the initial contact with a prospective principal. How do you handle it? What do you say? Do you go on with the negotiations or end the conversation? What questions should you ask? How persistent should you be? Do you try to sell the prospective principal on how a manufacturers’ representative can benefit his company at this account?

These are just a few of the many questions that go through your mind when this potentially negative phrase “We have house accounts” comes up in the negotiations with a prospective principal. Reps have as many answers … Read the rest

Increased Costs and Increased Demands on Rep Firm Operations


Isn’t it ironic that agency operating costs have not decreased proportionate to the decrease in business volume triggered by the current recession? Amazingly, many of the costs associated with running a sales business have dramatically increased, due to increased customer requirements, principal demands and escalating travel costs.

Airfares have increased substantially due to airline reductions in the number of flights, and the schedules offered are so inconvenient as to reduce the amount of time a rep has to spend in front of his customers. Even though I purchased tickets four weeks in advance, a recent flight of less than 1,000 … Read the rest

Keep it Short and Sweet


I know that because I work primarily in the OEM industry, sales meetings might be a little different than they are in other industries. But I’m positive there are a couple of fundamentals that cross all industry boundaries that must be included in a successful sales meeting — and by successful I mean worthwhile and memorable to both the manufacturer and the rep. For instance:

My experience — both good and bad — has been that the sales meeting that is short, sweet and to the point is going to be the most effective.

Concurrently, to get to the point … Read the rest