The Need for Reps to Embrace Change

by Greg Bruno, President, Midlantic Enterprises, Inc.

Anyone who knows me well will recognize that it’s somewhat ironic that I’m writing on embracing change! That’s because I hate change. But being asked to write this has forced me to examine my general reluctance, its root and the net result of changes in general.

I asked myself, why do I spend the time and energy resisting change? Well, sometimes my resistance is rooted in fear of the unknown. Sometimes it’s in the thought and stress related to having to learn something new and the time it’s likely to absorb. Most frequently it’s rooted in my general fear of having to commit precious few resources to learn or otherwise adapt something for which I’m not sure I like or can fully understand the net benefit of its implementation.

When I started my agency 31 years ago I made a $5,000 investment in my first computer. I embraced that change because I could easily see the benefit of using a dot matrix printer (Remember them?) along with computer generated “canned letters” of introduction. I also realized the benefit of using accounting software. Well, today I still use accounting software and canned letters but the computing has changed dramatically. My first computer was a portable Kaypro machine that weighed in at 28 pounds, with no internal hard drives but had 2 floppy disks, one for the program disk and one for the data disk. The change in that market is unbelievable and breathtaking.

Change comes in so many ways that we can easily say enough is enough but then what is the alternative? Do we just give up and go out of business, do we kick and scream until we see the light or do we adjust our efforts and move forward with changes as they arise? I’m likely to do the second and third. Take voice mail and e-mail as examples — I hate them both but they are very helpful and have had a profound impact on changing the sales game, both good and bad and yes, I use them both.

Going back and examining changes in my workplace, I’m proud to be associated with MANA. MANA helped a group of agents rewrite our older somewhat tired agency contract. The changed agency contract models now reflect the true conditions under which we all work. The changes brought about by that document are excellent, but for whatever reason, they are not being embraced by a lot of agencies even though the changes benefit both the agency and the principal. We should all check it out on the MANA website and learn about the contract’s language, its benefits and its terms. Then consider embracing it and working to implement it into our contract negotiations. It’s not easy but it is a fair and honorable change for both parties and will enable agencies to continue to prosper. If you haven’t already become familiar with MANA’s model contracts, it’s in your interest to take the time to review the new contract and related justification document online.

If you think change is not in our benefit, consider this. I’m in my car between sales calls, sitting in the shade, typing on my Bluetooth keyboard onto an iPad using my portable MIFI to save the document onto my desktop back at my office. If it were winter, I’d have the seat warmer on medium. When I get back on the road I’ll use my backup camera in my car to back out of my parking space and then tune into my Satellite radio station for uninterrupted music until I arrive at my next stop — how’s that for change?

Greg Bruno is the founder and president of Midlantic Enterprises, Inc., a multi-person sales agency selling custom and standard engineered components to OEMs and large industrial companies in the NY to DC corridor. Midlantic Enterprises began its 33rd year this past August. Bruno has been a rep for 38 years and is active with the NJ/NY chapter of MANA, participated in the development of the current MANA Agency-Principal Contract and has served on the MANA Board of Directors of MANA.