by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA
“Based on my recent experiences, common courtesy is not common practice with reps,” said the manufacturer. “And, frankly, the absence of basic common courtesy gives the entire rep industry a black eye.”
Is this manufacturer right? Let me share his story, and you be the judge.
This manufacturer joined MANA with high hopes of partnering with reps, and he embraced the idea of a win-win relationship. And MANA has at least 200 rep members in this manufacturer’s market space, so it’s likely that right rep is among our members.
“We tried all different ways to contact prospective reps. We tried email. We tried phone calls. We tried contacting them through their websites’ ‘contact me’ pages.
“We finally reached a few, and they were very personable, knowledgeable and helpful. But, overwhelmingly, we were just ignored.
“Any response at all would have been fine. ‘Not a fit for my line card,’ or ‘I have a competing line,’ or even just ‘I am not interested.’ But, with only a few exceptions, I got nothing. Radio silence. Zero.”
“If reps can’t respond when we reach out to them — even with ‘no thanks’ — then how can I trust that if they had our line that they would not ignore customers or prospects the same way they ignored us?
As reps, we are a community, and the actions of each of us impact all of us. Even if we are not interested in a line, there is probably a rep somewhere who would love to have that line. Taking a moment to respond to each manufacturer’s inquiry can go a long way to encourage that manufacturer to keep searching MANA’s RepFinder® for the right rep.
Let’s find time to say “no thank you” to manufacturers who don’t fit our line cards but could be a great line for another member of the rep community.
Note: The manufacturer’s comments were edited for space, clarity and content.
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.