Rep Council Blog

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 […]

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 […]