By Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA
People ask me quite frequently, “Why should I join MANA? What does a MANA membership do for me?”
When I started at MANA after retiring from a long sales career, I reverted back to the approach I learned when I first started in sales. Those of you who have been around long enough may remember the “Features and Benefits” approach that sales training companies taught then. So, back then I answered, “MANA offers a directory of manufacturers and that helps you find principals to represent.”
Today, I answer the question quite differently.
Over the 15 years I’ve worked at MANA, I’ve spoken with thousands of manufacturers’ representatives. I know for a fact, you all are not created equally. On one end of the spectrum, I find highly professionally run businesses that perform extremely well. I also speak with a large number who operate at some professional level and they do well. I occasionally speak with some who come across as “Salespeople in Business,” not “Business People in Sales.” They appear not to be doing so well.
So today, when someone asks, “Why join MANA?” I tell them this:
“MANA is the association for professional manufacturers’ representatives and those who aspire to be professional. The more you develop as a professional manufacturers’ representative, the more successful you become.”
We created our Steps to Representative Professionalism program to help those who aspire to grow professionally achieve that goal. We encourage them to invest some time in the online training program, an investment that creates a substantial return. Not easy in the busy world in which we live
For example, has a high-quality principal ever approached you with an interest in having you represent them? “Wow! This is great news” you say to yourself. Somewhere down the line, they tell you they decided to sign up another manufacturers’ representative. They based their decision on the fact the other manufacturers’ representative came across as more professional. They expect their choice to sell more than the others they interviewed. Had you invested a little time to learn how to raise your professionalism level, you could be the one celebrating the signing of a great new principal.
As manufacturers’ representatives, many of you represent principals who become emotional favorites because they “get it.” We call these “high quality” principals, role models who know how to successfully partner with you. Because of the professionalism level of the MANA manufacturers’ representative members, we attract higher quality principals who need to find manufacturers’ representatives.
MANA also provides education for manufacturer members that helps them improve their knowledge on how to effectively work with manufacturers’ representatives.
To summarize, join MANA because you learn how to raise your professionalism level. That helps you sign up higher quality principals that lead to greater sales and profits. As the MANA professionalism reputation grows, the opportunities to sign up higher quality principals increases. A great upward spiral, agree?
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.