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.

1. Plan Your Way to Rep Success

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.

RESOURCE TYPE
Business Planning for Reps (14 minutes) Video
SCORE – Business planning with mentors Website
Why Does a Rep Need a Business Plan Agency Sales
Sample Manufacturers’ Rep Business Plan Word Document
Sample 3-Year Revenue Plan Spreadsheet
Business Planning Teleforum
Strategies for Rep Success Special Report
Financial Management for Small Business Online course

WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESS ENTITY?

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

WHAT ABOUT INSURANCE NEEDS?

RESOURCE TYPE
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.

2. Connect With High-Quality Principals That “Get It”

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
The Fatal Unforced Error — Why the Big Line Went Away Podcast
The Principal Is the Customer Podcast
Backselling to Principals Teleforum
Sample Manufacturers’ Representative Profile PDF
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.

RESOURCE TYPE
Selecting the Right Sales Channel Partner (10 minutes) Video
Selecting the Right Representative or Principal Special Report
Preparing to Interview for a New Line Podcast
Selecting the Right Principal Teleforum
Principal Evaluation Work Sheet Spreadsheet
Interviewing Guidelines PDF
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.

RESOURCE TYPE
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.

3. Developing/Pioneering New Markets With Professional 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 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.

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
Examining Contrasting Views on Shared Territorial Development Fees Agency Sales
Manufacturers Hear About Retainers Agency Sales
Determining Compensation for Developing New Business 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?

6. Learn to Sell Professionally

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.

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

Consider working with a sales coach. Nicki Weiss, who does the MANA teleforums provides coaching services.

SalesWise | A Sales Platform for Salespeople

Others:
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

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

RESOURCE TYPE
Ask the Right Questions Podcast
Tools to Accelerate Your Sales Teleforum

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.

10. House Accounts, Split Commissions and Other Territory Management Issues

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.

RESOURCE TYPE
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
Backselling Pays Off — Big Time! Agency Sales
Do You Get an “A” for Representing Your Firm? Agency Sales
We Don’t Need Reps Anymore! Two Guys in Chicago Can Handle the Business 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