by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA
“I feel like I’m facing a lot of competition from other manufacturers when I try to get the attention of really high-quality reps,” said the manufacturer on the phone. Then he asked a question that sounded like it should have been easy for me to answer.
“Are there more reps looking for manufacturers or more manufacturers looking for reps?”
I started to answer. Then I stopped. I asked if we could talk about his other questions first and circle back to that one. As I answered his other questions, I put my finger on why this question was so challenging.
Every day I talk to manufacturers who are struggling to recruit high-quality reps. Every day I talk to reps struggling to sign high-quality manufacturers. Every manufacturer says there is a shortage of high-quality reps. Every rep says there is a shortage of high-quality manufacturers.
Then the answer to his question came to me.
“You asked if there are more reps looking for manufacturers or more manufacturers looking for reps.
“I think the answer is: Yes.
“Let me explain.
“There are always lots of manufacturers eager to recruit high-quality reps. There are always lots of reps eager to represent high-quality manufacturers. So, the answer to this question depends on your perspective.
“As a manufacturer trying to sign a really great rep, it will feel like you have to compete with lots of other manufacturers to get that rep’s attention. Just like reps who are trying to sign a really great manufacturer will feel they have to compete with lots of reps to get that manufacturer’s attention.
“Bottom line, really great reps and really great manufacturers always have lots of potential partners clamoring for their attention.”
Whether you are a manufacturer or a rep, for the best advice on how to make your company attractive to top-tier partners, turn to MANA for help.
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.