What to Look for When Searching for Manufacturers’ Representatives to Represent Your Company

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA

To be successful in sales requires creating high-trust relationships with customers. We like to buy from those we know and trust. When you search for manufacturers’ representatives to represent your company, you want to find those with high-trust relationships with the customers for what you supply. They created those relationships by helping the customers with the other products they represent that do not compete with what you supply.

How do you create that list of other products? If you already work with independent manufacturers’ representatives, check out their line cards for the companies they represent. Not working with manufacturers’ representatives yet? Find out from your customers what else they buy. Once you have a list, use those as the product classifications in your RepFinder® search.

Once the results come up, download them into an Excel file, go through the description of what they do in the last column of the Excel file and delete any that are obviously not a good fit. If it looks like they might be a good fit, go to the website column and check out their website. You learn a lot more about them there and over 80 percent of MANA members have websites. Delete the row if what you see tells you this one is not a good fit.

You also want to check the size of the territory they cover with the number of salespeople and or sub-reps that work for them. That information is in the Excel file. For example, a one-person manufacturers› representative that covers the entire U.S. might not be reasonable.

Once you go through the file and delete all those who are not a good fit, the next step is to create an email and copy the email addresses from those on the list into the BCC address bar, so the others do not see who is also getting the email.

In addition to learning about what you supply, professional manufacturers› representatives also want to learn about how well you know how to successfully partner with manufacturers› representatives. In your email, you want to send them a message that you want this relationship to work really well for them because that is the only way it will also work for you. We recommend you watch our seven-minute Get them to Call You Back video in step 2, “Select the Right Manufacturers’ Rep” of the “Steps to Selling Through Independent Reps” program in the member area of the MANA website. There is also a list of rep-friendly policies to include in emails to prospective manufacturers’ representatives. Select those you subscribe to and include them in your email and the response increases significantly.

The last step is to conduct a thorough and due-diligent interview process. Unfortunately, in the real world in which we live, there are those who tell a good story about themselves but when you get to know them, they are not who they say they are. Use our Selecting the Right Representative or Principal Partners (Special Report) also in step 2, “Select the Right Manufacturers’ Rep” of the “Steps to Selling Through Independent Reps” program. It’s a guide that will take you through a thorough and due-diligent interview.

Follow these steps to help create a network of professional manufacturers’ representatives that will work well for you. They will stay with you for a long time as trusted business partners and both of you will profit from the relationship.

Jerry Leth, MANA’s vice-president and general manager, started as membership manager in August 2000. Previously, he owned and operated Letco Tech Sales, Inc., a MANA member, multi-line professional outsourced sales agency he founded in 1989. Before starting his own agency, he managed a network of manufacturers’ reps as vice-president of sales and marketing for torque and tension equipment. Leth graduated from Stanford with a mechanical engineering degree. He started his career at Hills Brothers Coffee in San Francisco in engineering and production before embarking on a sales career.

Fill in these details and we’ll send you a link to run a FREE trial rep search!


Prefer not to share your info? Go directly to MANA’s RepFinder® database without registering!

Fill in these details and we’ll send you a link to run a FREE trial manufacturer search!


Prefer not to share your info? Go directly to MANA’s LineFinder® database without registering!