by Charles Cohon, President and CEO, MANA
First let me tell you my favorite story about a manufacturer working with reps. I heard it from a sales executive who came across his company’s owner joyously signing rep commission checks.
“Wow, that’s a big one,” he heard the owner say, grinning ear to ear as he signed. “Another biggie,” said the owner, signing enthusiastically.
That sales executive paused at the door of the owner’s office, somewhat puzzled, and posed a question. “I have never seen anyone so happy to sign checks. Why are you so happy about spending your money?”
“Simple,” the owner explained. “These are rep commission checks. Every time I send a rep a dollar, it means I got to keep nine dollars. So, as far as I am concerned, these checks can never be big enough.”
Why Do I Love This Story?
I love repeating a story about a manufacturer who “gets it.” Yes, of course this manufacturer is a MANA member. And while I can’t promise that every MANA manufacturer member gets it, I can promise that manufacturers who “get it” are much more likely to join MANA than manufacturers who don’t.
It celebrates big commission checks. The bigger the better. In a world where reps privately share fears that selling too much may get them fired for earning too large a commission check, it’s great to be able to tell a story where large commission checks are celebrated.
It reminds us that a rep’s commission check is really a rep’s monthly performance review. And that the commission earned by high-performing reps should solidify that rep’s status with the manufacturer rather than being a trigger to review a rep who is “earning too much.”
My Second Favorite Story
It came from a rep responding to a manufacturer’s complaint that the rep’s commission checks were getting too large. That rep’s reply? “Well, don’t you feel like it beats the alternative? My well-earned commission checks could be for selling huge amounts of your competitor’s products instead of for selling huge amounts of yours.”
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.