Rep Council Blog

75th MANAversary

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA The year was 1947. Harry S. Truman was president, the World Series was televised for the first time (the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games), and Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. And on October 17, 1947, the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association joined the […]

How We Communicate With Each Other Has Changed

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA I owned and operated a manufacturers’ representative business back in the last decade of the last century. How I communicated with my principals (and vice-versa) differs from the communication options available today. Back then we used landline phones, fax machines and the U.S. Postal Service. Manufacturers’ representatives […]

What Makes a Great Principal?

by Lisa Wilson, L.S. Wilson & Associates, Inc. I recently saw the movie Elvis, the story about the rise and fall of Elvis Presley. There is a man in the movie by the name of Tom Parker (“The Colonel”), played by Tom Hanks. The Colonel latched on to Elvis because he could see early on how talented he was. The Colonel, of […]

Live! In-Person! Finally!

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA One of the best parts of being MANA’s CEO is the opportunity to have conversations with MANA members. Conversations with reps. Conversations with manufacturers who are already working with reps or who want to learn how to work with reps. For the last two years, most of those […]

You Can’t Sell From an Empty Wagon

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “I want to hire some reps for the new product I am bringing out in six months,” said the manufacturer who called me. “Can you help me?” My response was not what she wanted to hear, but it was what she needed to hear. “I’m glad to hear about your interest in […]

How to Successfully Sell Through Independent Reps

by Tommy Garnett, CPMR, CSP, Garnett Component Sales, Inc. Selling through independent manufacturers’ representatives can be a very rewarding business partnership if a few key areas are taken into consideration. The first step is for the manufacturer to understand the rep-principal model. MANA can serve as a great resource for those manufacturers who have never […]

What Will Happen If There Are No Sales?

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA A very successful rep recently called to share his experiences with Market Development Fees (MDF). “MDF are an excellent way for manufacturers with no existing sales and no name recognition to access a more experienced rep like me who usually would not take on their product line. “Normally, […]

How Manufacturers’ Representatives Interact With Customers Has Changed

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA There is no doubt that how salespeople interact with customers differs now than just a few years ago. Not just due to the COVID‑19 pandemic — it changed even before that. Technology and younger generation customers with different values impacted salesperson/customer relationships. Meeting with customers in‑person became […]

Planting for the Future

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” — Greek Proverb What trees does MANA plant to help ensure the rep industry’s future? Here’s an example. Reps struggle to recruit recent college graduates as employees, in part because college classes […]

The Most Revealing Question

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA Manufacturers’ representative firms have a lot in common with Olympic rowers. Just to qualify to compete, we have to be fast, agile and impressive performers. But when it comes to line card profitability analysis, some of us forget what Olympic rowers know: To be winners, you have to regularly […]

Working On Your Business Not In Your Business

by Sid Ragona, Ph.D., Ragona Scientific, LLC The catch phrase “working on your business and not in your business” is almost ubiquitous these days and can be found in just about any article or podcast discussing entrepreneurship. The term was first coined by Michael Gerber decades ago. The rationale behind the advice was derived from […]

75-Year-Old Soup’s On — Come and Get It!

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA A perpetual stew, also known as forever soup, is a pot that is never or rarely emptied all the way, and ingredients and liquid are replenished as necessary. Foods prepared in a perpetual stew have been described as being flavorful due to the manner in which the ingredients […]

Manufacturer: “What Am I Doing Wrong?”

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “I need to sell more aluminum die castings,” said the manufacturer. “So I downloaded a list of reps who sell die castings and started making phone calls.” “Most of them said, ‘I already represent a die casting company, so I can’t represent you,’” he continued. “What am I doing […]

Jump In, the Water’s Fine

(But Here Are a Few Things to Know Before You Do) by Keynae Agnew, CPMR, Agnew Pacific Enterprises, LLC Last year was called “The Great Resignation” and the “Big Quit” because waves of unhappy employees quit their jobs. And all the indicators suggest that this year won’t be different. Some of these people are jumping right into […]

All Your Eggs In One Basket

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA In my last post, I quoted a manufacturer who regretted a hiring mistake that put $200,000 of his company’s money down the drain: “My problem is not that I have been searching for direct sales­people and didn’t find qualified candidates. My problem is that after a long search that […]

Things Change

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA One thing that’s guaranteed in life — things change. Sometimes the changes are significant. For example, just look back at the past two years. Life today differs significantly from what it was in 2019. Other times, the changes are gradual, sometimes so gradual we fail to notice. […]

How Long Is a Piece of String?

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA The manufacturer on the phone asked a question I couldn’t answer. “I’m interviewing reps for a territory where my company has no existing business. I understand that a well-established rep can’t work for free, so I am willing to pay a monthly Market Development Fee (MDF). What should […]

MANA Helps Smooth the Road for Agencies

by Lisa Wilson, L.S. Wilson & Associates, Inc. Recently I was going through some older business records to see what I could discard. There were copies of commission checks from two principals that I no longer represent. Principal One terminated me and I terminated with Principal Two. Principal One informed me that I was not […]

$200,000 Down the Drain

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “There are worse things than unsuccessfully trying to find a direct salesperson,” said the manufacturer who called me today. Let me tell you about the call. Most of the phone calls I’ve gotten from manufacturers recently start out like this: “I have been trying to recruit a direct […]