MANA Is the Association for Professional Manufacturers’ Agents and Those Who Aspire to Be Professional

Experience tells us the professionalism level differs significantly among manufacturers’ agents. At one end of the spectrum, you find highly professional agents businesses and it goes down from there. We also know that the professionalism level does not correlate with agency size. Some one-person agents businesses operate at a highly professional level and some multi-person reps operate at a much lower level.

The more you develop as a professional manufacturers’ representative, the more successful you become.

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Professional manufacturers’ representatives create business plans that take them from where they are today to where they want to be. Changes made according to a plan succeed at a much higher rate than just “winging it.”

Use the resources below to create a plan that raises your success and profitability.

RESOURCE TYPE
One-Page Planning Tool – Business Model Canvas (BMC) (21 minutes) Video
Business Planning for Reps (14 minutes) Video
To Plan or Not to Plan Agency Sales
SCORE — Business planning with mentors Website
Sample Manufacturers’ Rep Business Plan Word Document
Sample 3-Year Revenue Plan Spreadsheet
Strategies for Rep Success Special Report
Ten Tips for Manufacturers’ Representatives Video
Why Does a Rep Need a Business Plan Agency Sales
Financial Management for Small Business Online course

Market your manufacturers’ rep firm to principals.

When high-quality principals that “get it” search for manufacturers’ representatives, they interview multiple prospects. Professional manufacturers’ representatives know how to market themselves so they are the ones signed up by these great companies. Use the resources below to learn how.

RESOURCE TYPE
Backselling (5 minutes) Video
Marketing and Sales Management Tools for Manufacturers’ Representatives, by John Haskell PDF
Sample Manufacturers’ Representative Profile PDF
What Do Manufacturers Look for in a Rep? Agency Sales
The Importance of Reps Marketing Themselves to Principals Agency Sales

CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS

Professional manufacturers’ representatives conduct thorough and diligent interviews to ensure the prospective principals possess the potential for long and mutually profitable relationships.

RESOURCE TYPE
Selecting the Right Representative or Principal Partners Special Report
Principal Evaluation Work Sheet Spreadsheet
Selecting the Right Sales Channel Partner (10 minutes) Video
Adopting 3Rs When Vetting Prospective Lines Agency Sales
Revamping the Selection Process Agency Sales

Professional manufacturers’ representatives prepare for the interviews by knowing what questions high-quality principals ask them. Read Our 53 Best Interview Questions When Hiring Manufacturers’ Representatives.

When a prospective principal asks you to represent them in a new market where there is no existing business, the rules change. You need to consider the extra time and effort it takes to develop that business. And more time and effort means more cost. Taking on a new pioneering line without extra compensation creates financial risk to your business.

The resources below help you learn how to successfully negotiate the extra compensation for your missionary efforts.

RESOURCE TYPE
Developing New Markets With Professional Field Sales Reps Special Report
Developing New Markets With Professional Field Sales Representatives (7 minutes) Video
Sample Clauses for Contracts Between Manufacturers of Missionary Lines and Pioneering Reps Microsoft Word doc
Market Development Fees — An Expense or An Investment That Brings a Substantial ROI? Microsoft Word doc
Guidelines for Developing New Markets With Independent Sales Representatives PDF
The Need to Invest in the Rep’s Efforts Agency Sales
Market Development Fees Agency Sales
Working With Reps to Develop New Business Agency Sales

When manufacturers’ representatives and manufacturers agree to work with each other, they need to sign a written agreement. Here’s information on the creation of a manufacturers’ representative/principal agreement.

RESOURCE TYPE
Manual for the Creation of a Rep-Principal Agreement (Includes Sample Agreements) Legal
List of MANA Member Attorneys Legal
Negotiating Better Contracts Video

Included in the agreement is the commission rate the manufacturer pays when the manufacturers’ representative gets them orders.

RESOURCE TYPE
Simplified Commission Rate Ranges Survey
Commission Survey Special Report

Also included in written agreements are special clauses.

RESOURCE TYPE
Product Liability by the Numbers Blog
Sample Letter to a Principal Concerning Product Liability Coverage Legal
Extended Post-Termination Commission Clauses (7 minutes) Video
Intellectual Property Protection Guideline Legal
Example of Rep Menu Services for Missionary Line Launch Legal
First Visit to a New Lawyer: What Happens before the Clock Starts Podcast

Other Legal Issues

RESOURCE TYPE
What to Do When a Principal Terminates an Agreement (5 minutes) Video
Principal Agreement Terminations Agency Sales
U.S. and European Rep Law Special Report
An Introduction to Bankruptcy Special Report

When manufacturers’ representatives and manufacturers work with each other as trusted “Partners in Profits”, the relationships are mutually beneficial and last a long time.

RESOURCE TYPE
Analyzing the Manufacturers’ Agent-Principal Relationship Special Report
Open Doors By Building an Effective Rep Council Special Report
Sales Reps/Manufacturers: Adversarial or Cooperative E-Book
Working Together as Trusted Partners in Profits (7 minutes) Video
Effective Communication With Principals Video
The Need to Educate Principals Agency Sales
Call Reports, Manufacturers’ Reps, and Independent Contractor Status Blog

Ever hear the expression “Natural Born Salesperson?” Don’t believe it. Those who go through current sales training outsell those who never went and those who went a long time ago.

SALES COURSES/COACHES

The manufacturers’ representative educational research foundation (MRERF) offers a three-day program aimed specifically for manufacturers’ representatives.

MRERF CSP (Certified Sales Professional)

If those dates or locations don’t work for you, here’s a site that provides information on the top 20 sales courses. Find one here that works for you.

Top 20 Companies With Sales Training Courses

Please note: MANA does not guarantee or warrant the services provided by these coaching services or their qualifications. You are responsible for performing your own due diligence before selecting any of them. MANA reserves the right to add or remove a coaching service from the list as it deems appropriate in its sole discretion.

Principal relationships change over time. Sometimes, the changes are so gradual, you fail to notice them. Are all the companies you represent still as profitable as they were a while back? Invest time on an annual basis to perform a profitability analysis on your current lines. The analysis may bring out the fact that one (or more) lines you represent are not bringing a return on the time you invest in them. If so, time to make changes.

RESOURCE TYPE
Line Card Profitability Analysis Workbook
Line Card Profitability Analysis Presentation Video
Stop Wasting Your Time on Your Worst Lines Video
Line Profitability Remains Key to Rep Success Agency Sales
The Time‑Honored Practice of Evaluating Lines Agency Sales
Surviving a Change in Management Agency Sales

Technology plays an important role in the operation of today’s businesses. Do you have an up-to-date website that effectively markets your manufacturers’ representative business? To principals as well as customers? What about CRMs, to track customers, quotations, orders, and commissions?

RESOURCE TYPE
List of Software Providers and Website Developers List
Data Show Most Salespeople Are Dinosaurs When It Comes to Social Selling Agency Sales
Some Social Media Guidance Agency Sales
Social Media — More People Use It Than We Know Agency Sales

The average MANA member employs 6 employees and a number go 50 or more. When you hire salespeople (or sub reps), you leverage their time and effort to increase the profitability of your manufacturers’ representative business. Here is information on how to do this.

RESOURCE TYPE
Succession Planning • Attracting and Retaining New Salespeople Special Report
A Manufacturers’ Sales Agents’ Guide to the Use of Independent Contractors Special Report
Sales Agency/Sub-Representative Agreement Guidelines Legal
Where and How to Find Rep Salespeople Agency Sales
Checking References: Just Confirming the Decision to Hire or Not? Agency Sales
The Ongoing Search for the Right Sales Fit Agency Sales
Hiring With an Eye to the Future Agency Sales
Agencies Finding, Recruiting and Hiring New Salespeople Agency Sales
Steps for Finding the Right Salesperson Agency Sales

Use the resources below to make your case that manufacturers who take house accounts are making a bad business decision and that commission splits need to be fair.

RESOURCE TYPE
Why I Love to Find My Competitor’s House Accounts Agency Sales
Why I Love to Find My Competitors’ House Accounts Podcast
Going Direct (6 minutes) Video
My Biggest Principal Was Just Sold. What Do I Do Now? Podcast
Backselling (5 minutes) Video
Sample Manufacturers’ Representative Profile PDF
CRM — Friend or Foe? Agency Sales

Other issues facing manufacturers’ representatives:

RESOURCE TYPE
Concern With Split Commissions Never Ends Agency Sales
Compensating for Trade Show Duty Agency Sales
Manufacturer or Rep: Who’s Responsible for Generating Sales Leads and How? Agency Sales
Maximizing the Value of Field Visits Agency Sales
1949 Rep Article Rings True Today Podcast

Working with non-U.S. principals differs from working with U.S. ones. If you work with or plan to work with an international principal, here are some resources you may find helpful.

RESOURCE TYPE
U.S. and European Rep Law Special Report
Enforcement of a Contract With an International Entity Agency Sales
Another Peek at the Sales Representative Agreement and the Global Distribution of Goods Agency Sales
Export 101 — Selling to Mexico Through Manufacturers’ Representatives Podcast
Canadian Reps — The Same but Different Podcast

Thinking of selling or buying a manufacturers’ representative business? Here are resources to help go through the process so it works out well for both you and the other party.

RESOURCE TYPE
Selling a Manufacturers’ Agency Business (7 minutes) Video
Valuing the Rep Firm Special Report
Succession Planning • Attracting and Retaining New Salespeople Special Report
Beginning Succession Planning Agency Sales
Successful Succession: A Second Time Around Agency Sales
Succession: Planning Makes Perfect Agency Sales
Succession Planning and Valuing/Buying/Selling/Merging Representative Firms Agency Sales
More Advice on Succession Planning Agency Sales

What advantages do professional agents enjoy?

  • They attract higher quality principals to represent
  • They manage to survive and thrive in tough economic times
  • They achieve a much higher profitability and success level
  • They retire comfortably

Read the Agency Sales article: MANA’s ‘Steps to Manufacturers’ Agent Professionalism’ Program

Watch: MANA’s Steps to Rep Professionalism Program (6-minute video)