The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down

by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA

“I’ve become great friends with one of my reps,” said the manufacturer. “But he still is reluctant to give me blunt constructive criticism about our company. My rep says: ‘The nail that sticks up gets hammered down,’ which is why I started our rep council.”

A rep council is an advisory board assembled by a manufacturer from their rep sales force to provide feedback and advice to the manufacturer’s sales and management team.

Why Do Manufacturers Have Rep Councils?

  1. Unfiltered Feedback: Because the rep council submits a group report to the manufacturer’s management team, individual reps don’t worry that their comments will be held against them.
  2. Comprehensive Market Information: Rep councils gather information about customer trends, competitive pricing strategies, marketing initiatives, and customer trends from the entire rep network and assemble it as a single document for the manufacturers’ review.
  3. Engaging Manufacturers’ Management With Reps: Top manufacturer managers often have misconceptions about reps, so meeting with reps during rep council sessions helps the management team understand the reps’ roles and needs.
  4. Engaging Reps With Top Management: Nothing builds rep enthusiasm to sell for a manufacturer like feeling it has the ear of top management. Reps give more effort and make more sales for manufacturers when they connect personally with their manufacturer’s key decision-makers.
  5. Trust: A rep council demonstrates the manufacturer’s support and understanding of reps’ roles, leading to increased trust between the manufacturer, better relationships, improved communication, and more sales.

What Do Rep Councils Get for Manufacturers?
Increased commitment from the rep sales force and more sales.

What Do Rep Councils Get for Reps?
More sales, bigger commission checks, and long-term relationships with their manufacturer partners.

How Do You Start a Rep Council?
MANA members can download our Special Report, Open Doors by Building an Effective Rep Council, in the member area of

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.