Delegate to Elevate


The tasks business owners shouldn’t do and how AI and virtual assistants can help independent manufacturers’ reps.

In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, independent manufacturers’ representatives play a crucial role in driving business growth and success for their factories. These owners have a unique set of challenges and opportunities, often wearing multiple hats to ensure the smooth functioning of their ventures. However, in the pursuit of efficiency and productivity, it’s essential for business owners to recognize the tasks they should avoid and harness the power of AI-driven tools like ChatGPT and virtual assistants to optimize their operations.

Running an independent … Read the rest

Not the Only Woman in the Room Anymore


Last year’s Agency Sales articles about MANA’s 75th anniversary allowed me to mull over how MANA, the rep industry, and I have been reinvented over and over during my 29 years as a manufacturers’ rep. I am excited to share my perspective with you on these changes.

When I became a manufacturers’ rep, this was already a great industry, and MANA was its acknowledged gold standard. Today our industry has become even better, and I am proud to say that MANA remains its most important supporter and resource. I know I am not alone in this thinking.

My rep journey … Read the rest

Meeting the Challenge — Building and Maintaining Relations With Customers Who Are Burned Out


I don’t know about you, but I’m noticing my customers are burned out and maybe even showing some signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Perhaps you’ve noticed it also. Salespeople serve on the front lines to the customer and are better able than anyone else to identify issues firsthand. The deep relationships we have been carefully developing over time allow us to measure the customer’s pulse during each visit. That is a gift — and it’s one we should share with our customers.

So, how do we support and build trust with our customers at a time when they do … Read the rest

Making Connections at the WomenReps 2021 Conference


In a crazy year with plenty of uncertainty, the WomenReps 2021 conference was conducted in Bloomington, Minnesota, in July. Even forest fires in the northern part of the state did not stop the event. It was a much-needed connection point for women in the sales representative business.

Women from around the country spent several days discussing their businesses’ roots as well as the current and future direction of their businesses.

This fourth Annual Conference had a mix of new and previous attendees from Colorado, California, North Carolina, and Minnesota. WomenReps 2021 participants included: Karen Jefferson, Rocky Mountain TSG; Julie Defee, … Read the rest

Permanent Changes Long After the Current Pandemic Subsides


When will the dust settle? What will the “new normal” look like? Although we might have a peek at individual changes, it is not possible to completely comprehend the effect of all the recent changes. That fine‑tuned crystal ball is still not available for general distribution.

Here’s what we know so far about the changes we have seen in the last 13 months:

  • The number of available workers continues to decrease. During the pandemic we have lost many caregivers of young children. Women, who make up half the population, are still the main caregivers in families. We cannot afford to
Read the rest

Beginning Succession Planning


As the owner of an independent rep sales agency you have signed the contracts, your firm is bringing in good opportunities for your principals and you have a solid business plan to develop and care for your customers in the coming years. At what point then should you begin thinking about your exit plan? I like the saying “Begin with the end in mind.”

Your departure from the business might not be on the horizon but acknowledging that a solid plan brings better results helps to pave the way for the beginnings of succession planning. Reps are the constant in … Read the rest

Developing Your Curiosity to Open New Opportunities


Are you hitting your target results for sales, business development, and career aspirations? Hopefully you’ve built out a clear process and are right on track to hit the results you are aiming for.

However, if the answer to that question is “No,” chances are you lack an essential ingredient needed for the continued success of your business.

Contrary to the oft-quoted saying, “Curiosity killed the cat,” curiosity about yourself, your business, customers, business trends, etc., allows you to anticipate challenges and opportunities. That anticipation allows you to stay more than one step ahead of the competition. It could even open … Read the rest

The Benefits of the Cold Calling Process for Your Rep Organization


Cold calling — It can seem like an old fashioned and inefficient task. I would imagine that most salespeople enjoy other contact points more than this one. So why do it? When it is used as one of the many methods to interact with customers, I find that there is value in cold calling. I have defined five steps that have helped me over the years put it to good use.

Like all sales tools, you apply it when it can show value in getting you to a specific result. Defining your goal should be your first step; lay out … Read the rest

The Beating Pulse of Opportunities MANA’s Female Manufacturers’ Representative Members Are Experiencing


When I regularly speak to other female sales reps around the country, I can’t help but recognize the real sense of optimism and momentum that has grown out of the connections among female reps in the profession. There is a collective excitement in our conversations as we share solutions to problems and act as sounding boards for each other as we work through common entrepreneurial issues. We also get to celebrate the unique ways we lead our companies and bring value to our principals and customers.

Independent manufacturers’ reps have a chance at leadership roles by becoming part of ownership. … Read the rest

The Value of Networking With Your Peers


We can all be very busy as we remain focused on the day-to-day activities of staying in front of our customers. From time to time, however, it’s important to perform activities that allow us to entertain alternate and new perspectives to what we are already doing well. The very exercise of moving out of your own bubble and connecting with similar but diverse organizations can put a shot into our growth and increase our value to the principals we represent.

This leads me to two questions that are asked and answered by Geri Stengel, founder of Ventureneer, in the article … Read the rest

The Untapped Talent Pool


In May of this year I participated in my first meeting as a member of the MANA Board of Directors. As the first female to occupy such a position in the association’s 70-year history, a number of thoughts went through my mind as I met with other Board members and MANA executives. The first thing was how gratifying it feels to give back to an organization that has given me so much. Also, how much I look forward to more women joining us at the table as we grow our association well into the future.

As we think about succession … Read the rest