by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA
Thirty years ago, a colleague from my rep days shared some valuable advice she got from her mother. “Always take the mint.”
“When somebody offers you a mint, maybe they are just offering to share. Or maybe you have bad breath. You will never know which. So always take the mint.”
That’s great advice. And it applies to more than just breath mints.
Let me share an example. Sometimes manufacturers call to tell me that reps won’t take their line. “Reps don’t understand the great opportunity they are turning down,” or “I emailed hundreds of reps with no takers, they are missing out on making lots of money.”
I always offer to help. “Let’s look at the offer you’re making to reps and see if we can figure out why.”
Most manufacturers are happy to get fresh eyes on their offering, and we find a way to help make their recruiting more effective.
But occasionally there is a manufacturer who won’t take the mint.
“I’ve worked in companies with reps for 20 years. I already know everything there is to know about working with reps.” They didn’t call for advice, they just called to complain.
Did they waste my time? At first, I thought so. But then I realized they had taught me an important lesson.
When someone offers me advice, I always let them make their case.
- Sometimes the advice will be brilliant. So, I win.
- Sometimes the advice will be “not brilliant,” but it triggers an idea that I otherwise would not have had. So, I win.
- Sometimes the advice will be the exact opposite of brilliant. But it reminds me of what to avoid. So, I win.
Turns out my colleague’s mother was even wiser than I realized at the time.
“Always take the mint.”
Charles Cohon, CPMR, is CEO and president of MANA. In 2016 Cohon earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation after completing American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) coursework and testing. Cohon also earned an MBA with honors and with concentrations in strategic management and entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and was founder and owner of a very successful Illinois manufacturers’ representative firm for nearly 30 years before joining MANA.