How Manufacturers’ Agents and Manufacturers Learn to Become “Ideal” Partners

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA

First, let me answer the question, “Why does that matter?”

Manufacturers’ agents want to represent the highest quality principals willing to work with them. To them, the “ideal” principal equals a quality principal. The higher quality the principals they represent, the more “ideal” and the more they sell and the more successful the business becomes.

Manufacturers want to sign up the most professional manufacturers’ agent willing to work with them. To them, the “ideal” manufacturers’ agent equals a highly professional manufacturers’ agent. The more professional the manufacturers’ agents that work with them, the more “ideal” they become. They sell more and the manufacturer’s business becomes more successful.

What defines a “quality” principal and what define a “professional” manufacturers’ agent?

Quality principals really understand the manufacturers’ agent-principal relationship. They create long-lasting and mutually profitable relationships. They abide by the MANA code of ethics and a high trust level exists between both parties. They view their manufacturers’ agents as business partners, not as employees.

Professional manufacturers’ agents operate their businesses as business people, not salespeople. They plan, they select quality principals and negotiate balanced agreements. They develop relationships with customers that create sales. They grow their businesses and sell them when they retire. They invest time and money to participate in professional development programs. They also abide by the MANA code of ethics.

MANA members, both manufacturers and manufacturers’ agents, access MANA resources that help them achieve the desired “ideal” status. They make use of Agency Sales magazine articles, special reports, agreement manuals, teleforums and others. They call the MANA office, discuss specific issues and get solutions.

The results? Relationships that last longer and generate more profits for both. The business environment differs now from a few years ago. Customers demand far more from their suppliers. As partners who work together, today’s “ideal” manufacturers and manufacturers’ agents know how to meet customer demands. They succeed at a far greater rate than others do.

Take advantage of the MANA resources to move higher on the “ideal” level.

Jerry Leth, MANA’s vice-president and general manager, started as membership manager in August 2000. Previously, Jerry owned and operated Letco Tech Sales, Inc., a MANA member, multi-line professional outsourced sales agency he founded in 1989. Before starting his own agency, he managed a network of manufacturers’ reps as vice-president of sales and marketing for torque and tension equipment. Jerry graduated from Stanford with a mechanical engineering degree. He started his career at Hills Brothers Coffee in San Francisco in engineering and production before embarking on a sales career.