Preparation Is Key


My dad recounts a story from his early days as a salesman. One of his competitors showed up for a sales call at the purchasing agent’s office. He started the call by asking the purchasing agent “How are we doing?” The buyer reached into his pocket, took out a dime, flipped it to the salesman and replied “Why don’t you go down to the pay phone in the lobby and call your office and find out. When you know the answer come back up and see me and you can tell me….”

Had the salesman taken the time to check … Read the rest

Jack of All Trades —
Master of Some!


The adage of being a “Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” does not necessarily apply to independent manufacturers’ representatives. While the “business” end may require that we become “Jacks” of the many facets of running our agencies (such as HR, IT, accounting, engineering, healthcare, management, etc.), our “profession” requires that we are “masters” in the selling process.

Most of us got into the manufacturers’ representative business because we had a certain set of skills in selling that gave us the confidence not only to make a living in sales, but to make a career out of it. MANA understands this, and that’s why the … Read the rest

Accessing MANA’s Contributions


This will be my final year serving on the Board of Directors for MANA. It has been a great experience on multiple levels:

  • Working alongside a professional MANA staff and successful independent representatives.
  • Heading and participating on various committees (such as the Financial Committee, Long‑term Strategic Committee, Associate Member Committee, etc.).
  • Networking and befriending other independent representatives from across the United States to Canada.
  • Exposure to different industries.
  • Helping to oversee and facilitate a very prestigious organization from a strategic level.

But, perhaps the most rewarding and enlightening experience has been the observation of MANA’s continued mission “to advance the … Read the rest

Look to MANA for Training and Continuous Improvement


As a manufacturers’ representative we are reminded that it is a multi‑faceted livelihood; a business extending into other fields including sales, marketing, management, engineering, economics, technology, healthcare, human resources, law, finance, accounting, networking and more.

Most manufacturers’ representatives arrived in business having excelled in one or more of these fields. They have quickly learned, however, that there is a need to excel to some extent in all of these fields — because they all come into play in the running of their business. Our profession requires that we become “Masters” in the selling process. Our business requires that we become … Read the rest

When I Ran for Election to the MANA Board of Directors


When I ran for election to the MANA Board of Directors, I gave these four key reasons for doing so:

  • Education
  • Networking
  • Legislation
  • Support and give-back to the rep industry

I’m now serving my second three-year term on the MANA Board, and I still believe those reasons listed are valid. MANA continues to put quality educational opportunities on the table via Agency Sales magazine, iToolbox newsletter, webinars, teleforums and special reports.

Networking with other reps and manufacturers is a key component in our business. MANA makes a lot of effort to help reps and manufacturers connect. In addition, MANA is … Read the rest

Is Offshore Representation For You?


As a rep in today’s global economically driven market — it would be a mistake not to at least explore the possibility of off-shore representation. The observations contained in this editorial are slanted toward overseas sourcing versus over-the-borders of North America. While there are several approaches a rep can take, there are three that I have found most common:

  • Working with an existing domestic principal who has established foreign ties.
  • Working with a reputable trading company.
  • Working directly with an off-shore source.

We currently have several lines where the principal has aligned themselves through either ownership or strategic alliances

Read the rest

Negotiating Agreements


Negotiating a meaningful agreement between a rep and a manufacturer is key to establishing a solid relationship. The attitude from both parties needs to be “win-win” to make the relationship last long-term. How this negotiation process goes could also be an indicator of how the relationship will go.

As a rep agency, we try to focus on three key areas, whether it is an agreement for a territory or account-­to-account:

  1. Rates and/or commissions.
  2. Termination clauses.
  3. Product liability indemnification.

Most industries have established ranges for commission rates or percentages. However, these can vary within the agreement depending on business being turned … Read the rest