Rep Council Blog

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 There were copies of commission checks from two principals that I no longer represent.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 […]

We Must Be Adaptable

by Marnee Palladino, MARN, Inc.; edited by Stephanie Bray Just like the last time, I found myself wondering: “What should I write for this editorial?” Trying to pick an apropos topic (not already covered by my fellow board members!) was proving challenging yet again. We thought about continuing our story from last January (after all, […]

A Milestone

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA Next year marks MANA’s 75th anniversary. A milestone anniversary often prompts discussions about how much has changed over the years. Discussions like: “In the future, will there still be manufacturers’ representatives?” Yes, many things have changed. But when customers buy mission-critical products that make the difference between keeping […]

Making Connections at the WomenReps 2021 Conference

by Michelle Jobst, CPMR, Jobst Incorporated In a crazy year with plenty of uncertainty, the WomenReps 2021 conference was conducted in Bloomington, Minnesota, in July. Even forest fires in the northern part of the state did not stop the event. It was a much-needed connection point for women in the sales representative business. Women from around the […]

Why Hire Reps? I Had No Choice!

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA Helping manufacturers work effectively with reps is a primary reason MANA exists. So, manufacturers call all the time with questions about switching to reps. Until today, their reasons were pretty much always one of these three: “I need a salesforce that already knows best prospects and is a […]

What a Representative Firm Is Looking for When a Manufacturer Contacts Them Regarding Representation

by Tommy Garnett, CPMR, CSP, Garnett Component Sales, Inc. Long-lasting relationships between manufacturers and representatives are beneficial to each party and the customer as well. This relationship begins when the manufacturer reaches out to the representative and solicits professional representation in a specific area or on an account-by-account basis. The information exchanged in this initial […]

Line Card Profitability Analysis in a Parallel Universe

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA It’s a little bit like science fiction. What would a rep do if, one day, that rep woke up to find that the names of the companies on their line card were the same, but those companies were all subtly different? The people at the factory were subtly different. […]

“Reps Keep Ghosting Me — I Give Up,” Says Manufacturer

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “Based on my recent experiences, common courtesy is not common practice with reps,” said the manufacturer. “And, frankly, the absence of basic common courtesy gives the entire rep industry a black eye.” Is this manufacturer right? Let me share his story, and you be the judge. This manufacturer […]

Tips to Improve Your Online Presentation Skills

by Kenneth Russell-Murray, ElectraSpec, Inc. As the restrictions related to COVID-19 begin to lift, I would imagine many of us are eager to begin meeting our customers face‑to‑face. Zoom calls have become the norm, and perhaps many of us can’t wait until this is no longer our only means of communicating with our clients. Given the […]

Moving the Needle on Shared Market Development Fees

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA Last week a MANA rep member thanked me for MANA’s work to champion Shared Market Development Fees (SMDF). In recent years, said the rep, manufacturers have become more and more receptive to SMDF, which he credited to MANA’s efforts to familiarize manufacturers with SMDF. SMDF are monthly payments a […]

The Importance of Professionalism

by Keynae Agnew, CPMR, Agnew Pacific Enterprises, LLC One of the benefits of serving on MANA’s Board of Directors and the Health Industries Representatives Association Board of Directors is that I get to meet and speak with many other manufacturers’ representatives. They have lots of different ways to go to market, and the products they sell […]

We Knew It Couldn’t Be Done

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA Until We Had to Do It Experts tell us that after 18 months of quarantines and pandemic, “The New Normal” is coming. Part of that “new normal” will be that things we “knew” could not be done, pre-pandemic, actually could be done. Quarantines and a pandemic have forced […]

Direct Sales Employees vs. Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA Manufacturers have a choice when it comes to selling their products or services. They can hire direct (W2) sales employees or outsource the sales function to independent manufacturers’ representatives (1099 Independent Contractors). Which makes the most sense? Some people use economics to make the choice. Which alternative […]

Why Didn’t I Call You Back?

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA “I get plenty of voicemails, and I actually return lots of those calls,” explained the anonymous executive. “When I don’t return a call, it’s often for reasons like these: “You called four times without leaving a message. Each time you called, you disrupted the call I was on […]

Speed Is My Secret Weapon

by John Beaver, GSA Optimum “I feel the need, the need for speed.” — Maverick, Top Gun It happens every time someone sends you an email. It happens every time someone leaves you a voicemail. It happens every time someone sends you a text. Every time someone reaches out to you, that sender’s internal clock starts […]


by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA You have heard it from MANA, from manufacturers, and from reps. In the new normal, manufacturers that sell through reps have significant advantages over manufacturers with a captive sales force: In uncertain times, customers don’t take risks with untested vendors. They turn to trusted, proven resources for the products they need […]