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.
  • The products were subtly different.
  • The service levels and policies were subtly different.

Did this rep wake up in a parallel universe?


The rep woke up to find out that their lines are just not the same after 18 months of Covid.

  • Some of the companies are grateful for the efficiencies they get from a commissioned sales force.
  • Some of the companies have developed sharp elbows and started squeezing rep commissions.
  • Some of the companies kept the experienced people who know how to keep production lines humming.
  • Some of the companies cut staff too far, and everyone there is new and just learning how things work.

What’s a rep to do? Take the time to look at your line card and conduct a methodical Line Card Profitability Analysis. Does the commission earned from each line justify the time it takes to support each of those lines? Do all the lines fit my target market, or does supporting some of these lines pull me into areas that are not my core competency?

How can I do that methodically? I’m glad you asked.

MANA’s 18-page Line Card Profitability Analysis Workbook is free to download in the members-only area of Inside you’ll find worksheets and step-by-step instructions on how to create a Line Card Profitability matrix that will tell you which lines deserve more of your time, which lines deserve less of your time, and which lines may not belong on your line card.

Having trouble finding the workbook on Members can email us at, and we’ll respond with the file.

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.