by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA
My jaw dropped when a rep told me he was still closing deals based on handshakes and face-to-face meetings during quarantine and social distancing. Then he explained, and I could not have agreed with him more.
“Am I respecting my state’s mandatory quarantine and social distancing rules? Definitely! Am I closing deals based on handshakes and face-to-face meetings? Also, definitely! And it has nothing to do with wearing masks or gloves.
“Let me explain.
“Right now, customers are dealing with FUD. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. When they’re dealing with FUD, and when their companies are on the line if vendors let them down, are they going to roll the dice on a new vendor? Of course not! They are going to turn to trusted resources. Resources like me.
“That’s what I mean when I say I’m still closing deals based on handshakes and face-to-face meetings. Not recent handshakes and face-to-face meetings, of course. I’m closing deals based on my two decades worth of handshakes and face-to-face meetings with my customers in my territory.
“Those decades of handshakes and face-to-face meetings mean that when customers urgently need a resource who intimately understands their needs and also can be trusted implicitly, they know that they can turn to me.
“Are there factory-direct salespeople who can match my two decades of service to my customers in my territory? Not many, if there are any at all.
“And what happens if there is a situation that cannot be addressed without a face-to-face meeting? Safely socially distanced, but face-to-face. My customers know that many factory-direct salespeople are based at their company’s headquarters and fly out to see customers as needed.
“Those factory-direct salespeople are not going to want to get on a plane. And my customers are not going to be enthusiastic about a face-to-face meeting with someone who has just gotten off a plane.”
Bottom line, with FUD all around us, there has never been a better time for manufacturers to go to market through manufacturers’ reps.
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.