Manufacturers need a sales force on their side, but that doesn’t mean that they need a sale force on their payroll. Just as they outsource their legal and accounting functions, many manufacturers now outsource their sales function to highly-professional manufacturers’ representative firms.
“Outsourcing Selling” is best practices, tips, and solutions for manufacturers about using outsourced sales forces and for manufacturers’ representatives whose business model includes continuous improvement of the services they provide.
021: Peter Zafiro
Peter Zafiro, General Manager, LinMot USA, Inc. is an experienced hand working with manufacturers’ representatives and in this episode of Outsourcing Selling he shares how he views working with reps.
“I’ve gone to market with a variety of business models over the years. I’ve worked with factory direct-only salespeople, hybrids of direct and independent reps and with independent reps only,” says Zafiro. “What I’ve found is that I get the most bang for my buck with reps. Here’s why: I’ve found that reps are simply the most professional salespeople in their territories. They’re absolutely dedicated to the sales function in their territory.”
Reps offer faster time-to-market, he adds: “Whenever I’ve had to hire a direct person for a territory, it takes a while to get them up to speed, sometimes several years. Then when you’ve done that you can have a problem with maintaining consistency in your sales force. You’ll have the normal turnover every year not to mention the occasions when someone’s wife decides it’s time to move back home. Once that happens, you have to go through the same process all over again. You can spend upwards of three or more putting your sales team together. When you’re all done, you’re not going to be as productive as you could be with reps.”
For more of Zafiro’s insights from his experiences, enjoy this episode of Outsourcing Selling.
020: If Your Rep Agreement is a Cadillac Don’t Trade It For A Broken-Down Yugo
Years ago, your principal signed a rep agreement with you that protected your commission earnings, so you invested time and hard work to grow that line. Now your principal wants you to sign a new rep agreement. What should you do?
In this podcast attorney Randy Gillary shares his recommendations on how to evaluate a principal’s proposal to re-write your rep agreement. Principals don’t re-write rep agreements because they feel the rep’s interests were not sufficiently protected, says Gillary, they do it because they want to reduce the commissions they pay or to terminate the rep without paying post-termination commissions the rep had earned under the terms of the original contract.
It’s a not-uncommon complaint from reps who call Gillary’s firm for legal representation, and Gillary’s program to address this situation is fascinating listening for any rep. Interestingly, notes Gillary, of all the principals he’s had to pursue on this type of matter, none have ever been a MANA manufacturer member.
019: Best Practices Interview with First Mfr. on MANA’s Board of Directors: Charlie Ingram, Eriez Mfg.
In this podcast Charlie Ingram, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Eriez Manufacturing, gives representatives a chance to see themselves as a manufacturer sees them.
For representatives’ benefit, Charlie shares his perspectives on sales reports, rep councils, international sales meetings, manufacturers’ recruiting practices to locate and onboard new reps, 50+ year representative relationships, and ways representatives can protect their lines with proactive communication.
It’s a rare opportunity to view representatives through the lens of a manufacturer and a must-listen program for representatives who want to keep their current lines happy and add new lines.
018: My biggest principal was just sold. What do I do now?
Sometimes a new owner makes things better for reps. More often, a new owner eventually challenges legacy reps to prove their value, or even fires all its reps to save on commissions.
Whether the outcome is positive or not positive, the news that your largest principal is always jarring, and the first thing that comes to reps’ minds when that news breaks is “What do I do now?”
In this podcast, attorney Thomas J. Kammerait of the law firm von Briesen & Roper, s.c. discusses the rights reps retain and the perils reps face when one of their principals undergoes a change of control.
017: Women Entrepreneurs – Untapped Rep Talent Pool
In this podcast the first woman member of MANA’s Board of Directors, Michelle Jobst of Jobst Incorporated, Eden Prairie, MN, discusses her recent Agency Sales magazine editorial The Untapped Talent Pool and her own experiences as a woman working in the manufacturers’ representative industry since 1994. Opportunities for women, and opportunities to capitalize on the untapped skills of talented woman entrepreneurs are growing, says Jobst, and companies that flourish will not want to miss their chance to include woman-owned representative firms in their sales network.
016: 1949 Rep Article Rings True Today
The year was 1947. Harry S Truman was president, the World Series was televised for the first time (the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games), Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, and on October 17, 1947, the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association joined the community of not-for-profit trade associations.
Fast forward to July 1949, and MANA members discovered the first, 24-page issue of The Agent and Representative magazine (eventually renamed Agency Sales) in their mailboxes.
Digging through the first few issues of The Agent and Representative reveals how much MANA has changed, and also how much it has remained the same.
In those first few issues we find sentences like: “I know it’s customary for men to call themselves and believe themselves to be ‘practical men’ to pooh-pooh anything savoring of academic classification in salesmanship.” No thought of women as salespeople or as customers in those earliest editions. But in today’s MANA, woman-owned firms are common and the first woman to join MANA’s Board of Directors does so in May 2017.
Another glaring change since 1949 is that, although manufacturers were invited to advertise in our magazine, the articles in that 1949 issue focus solely on the needs of manufacturers’ representatives. Today Agency Sales strives to be relevant to both manufacturers and manufacturers’ representatives and includes articles for both audiences. And, also for the first time, a manufacturer will join MANA’s Board of Directors in May 2017.
Those are things that have changed, and changed for the better. Yet, some articles from those early issues could be reprinted today and most readers would have no hint that they were written in 1949. In the very first issue of The Agent and Representative is the story of Bill Herendon, a manufacturers’ representative whose customers pressured his principals to fire Bill and cut the price by the amount of Bill’s commissions. And how Bill, lacking a written agreement, had no recourse when the principal’s new sales manager agreed to that customer’s request.
Charles Cohon’s discussion provides insightful views on how to stay ahead of the curve in 2017. Useful, interesting, and entertaining – this podcast is must for any professional manufacturer’s rep.