12 Steps to Rep Professionalism | MANA Member Area

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. Without a plan, how do you know where you will end up?

Unless your business generates far more profits than you know what to do with, you need to make continuous improvements. 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.

Business Planning for Reps (14 minutes) Video
Ten Tips for Manufacturers’ Representatives Video
SCORE — Business planning with mentors Website
SCORE: One Page Business Plan Webinar
To Plan or Not to Plan Agency Sales
Why Does a Rep Need a Business Plan Agency Sales
Creating a Planning Team Pays! Agency Sales
Sample Manufacturers’ Rep Business Plan Word Document
Sample 3-Year Revenue Plan Spreadsheet
Introducing the Business Model Canvas (BMC) MANAcast
Business Planning Teleforum
Sales Reps and Manufacturers — Adversarial or Cooperative? Teleforum
Leadership and Cultivating a Healthy Culture Teleforum
Download the Sample Organizational Identity Statement from the above teleforum Word doc
Strategies for Rep Success Special Report
Financial Management for Small Business Online course


C Corporations Agency Sales
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) Agency Sales
S Corporations Agency Sales


The Absolutes of Business Insurance for Reps Agency Sales
How the Affordable Care Act has Changed Health Insurance Buying Decisions Agency Sales
Product Liability by the Numbers Blog
www.mana.augeobenefits.com Provider
Manufacturers’ Representatives and the United States Supreme Court’s Decision on Health Care Reform Law Blog
Term and Life Insurance Provider

When you successfully implement changes as a result of the plan you created, your profitability definitely goes up. You also feel more confident that your business will grow, last and add substantially to your retirement account when you retire.

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.

Backselling (5 minutes) Video
The Fatal Unforced Error — Why the Big Line Went Away Podcast
The Principal Is the Customer Podcast
Marketing Your Manufacturers’ Representative Business to Attract High-Quality Principals MANAcast
Marketing your manufacturers’ representative business Teleforum
Marketing and Sales Management Tools for Manufacturers’ Representatives, by John Haskell PDF
Sample Manufacturers’ Representative Profile PDF
Embracing Backselling Agency Sales
What Do Manufacturers Look for in a Rep? Agency Sales
Backselling — What Does It Take to Work? Agency Sales
Backselling Pays Off — Big Time! Agency Sales

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

Selecting the Right Sales Channel Partner (10 minutes) Video
Selecting the Right Representative or Principal Partners Special Report
Preparing to Interview for a New Line Podcast
Selecting the Right Principal Teleforum
Principal Evaluation Work Sheet Spreadsheet
Adopting 3Rs When Vetting Prospective Lines Agency Sales
The Rep-Manufacturer Rules of Attraction 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 the Our 53 Best Interview Questions When Hiring Manufacturers’ Representatives Blog.

Finally, learn the professional action to take when a manufacturer makes an initial effort to contact you to learn your interest in representing them.

Responding to Manufacturers is the Professional Way to Conduct Business Agency Sales

Rather than wait for manufacturers to contact you, MANA manufacturers’ representative members can find prospective principals by logging in to the member area of the MANA website and using the LineFinder®, the directory of MANA principal members. In most cases you will be able to view the manufacturers’ website to see if the territory that interests you currently has a manufacturers’ representative assigned or is open.

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 take into account the extra time and effort it takes to develop that business. And more time and effort equals 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.

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
Developing New Markets With Professional Manufacturers’ Reps MANAcast
Developing New Markets Teleforum
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
Should Reps Blaze the Pioneering Trail? Agency Sales

Use these resources to help educate prospective principals on the need for extra compensation to develop pioneering lines. Explain to them that professional manufacturers’ representatives refuse to take on pioneering lines without it. Sure, they can sign up reps who take on any line, but how much do they sell?

Ever hear the expression “Natural Born Salesperson?” Don’t believe it. You can learn sales skills and if you never took a sales course, time to rethink. Sales skills evolve over time, so even if you took one a long time ago, time to go again. Those who go through current sales training outsell those who never went and those who went a long time ago. Think of taking a sales course today as like getting a master’s degree rather than a bachelor’s degree. If you never took a sales course, then you get the bachelor’s degree.


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

Growth Dynamicsgrowthdynamicsonline.com

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.


Teleforums are hour-long conversations with people who know the topic. Podcasts are shorter interviews with knowledgeable people.

Connecting With Customers in the Digital Age Teleforum
Selling to Millennial Buyers Teleforum
Ask the Right Questions Podcast
Tools to Accelerate Your Sales Teleforum
100 Sales and Marketing Stats That Will Blow Your Mind PDF

AGENCY SALES MAGAZINE: Each month, Agency Sales publishes sales articles. Make a commitment to invest time to read those and implement what you learn. You do get a significant return on the investment.

Succession Planning • Attracting and Retaining New Salespeople Special Report
Hiring Partnering With Sub-Reps MANAcast
Hiring Salespeople for Your Manufacturers’ Representative Business MANAcast
Hiring Salespeople Teleforum
Q&A from Hiring Salespeople Teleforum Word doc
Hiring Sub-Reps Teleforum
Hiring Salespeople — How to Find Good Candidates, How to Interview Teleforum
Compensation Survey 2005 Agency Sales
Sales Agency/Sub-Representative Agreement Guidelines Legal
MANA no longer offers a Specimen Guidelines for Use Between Sales Agency and Employees.
Because of the wide variation in state laws governing employee relationships and commission compensation, MANA has determined that a one-size-fits-all Specimen Guidelines for Use Between Sales Agency and Employees no longer works. If you need help creating an agreement to use with your manufacturers’ representative business employees, we strongly recommend you contact an attorney. Access the MANA Rep-Savvy Attorney member list and contact information in the member area of the website under the “Legal and Consulting” heading.
A Manufacturers’ Sales Agents’ Guide to the Use of Independent Contractors Special Report
Employment and Sub-Rep Independent Contractor Agreements Teleforum
Compensation Strategies for Reps Teleforum
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

Unfortunately, some principals decide to convert accounts you developed into house accounts, serve them on a direct basis, and stop paying your commission on those accounts. They take this action on the false belief that they save money by doing so. The CFO looks at the commissions they send to you and concludes they will get the same results more cheaply with a direct sales person. Or, they decide they can service an existing account from afar without a salesperson now that they already have the business. They neglect to consider the reason you successfully book large orders is your customers trust you and buy from you. Will the direct sales person they hire be as successful? Won’t a competitor who calls on a regular business take it away?

Use the resources below to learn how to effectively market your value (Backsell) to principals. Once they truly understand and appreciate the value you provide, the chances they create house accounts significantly reduces.

House Accounts, Split Commissions and Other Territory Management Issues Teleforum
Backselling (5 minutes) Video
Going Direct (6 minutes) Video
My Biggest Principal Was Just Sold. What Do I Do Now? Podcast
Why I Love to Find My Competitor’s House Accounts Agency Sales
Why I Love to Find My Competitors’ House Accounts Podcast
Backselling to Principals Teleforum
Sample Manufacturers’ Representative Profile PDF
CRM — Friend or Foe? 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
Concern With Split Commissions Never Ends Agency Sales
Backselling Pays Off — Big Time! Agency Sales
1949 Rep Article Rings True Today Podcast

Use the above resources to help educate all of your principals on the significant risk they take when they create house accounts. Do it now, before it’s too late.

Another issue that manufacturers’ representatives face deals with “Split Commissions.” You book the order in your territory but your customer wants the products sent to another manufacturers’ representative’s territory. How does the principal handle the commissions?

Read the Agency Sales article below to learn how others split commissions when a sale involves multiple manufacturers’ representatives.

Concern With Split Commissions Never Ends 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)