Wanted: Professional Sales Reps Only

Edition: February 2003 - Vol 11 Number 02
Article#: 1453
Author: Jack Evans

A sales rep’s professionalism was once defined by their years “in the trenches.” To be considered a sales expert today in any market, a salesperson can no longer depend entirely upon experience and “street smarts.” Carrying a notebook of lines available is no longer a guarantee for continued sales.

Professional sales representatives continually educate themselves. New knowledge keeps salespeople informed about their respective markets, including concerns such as the supply chain, distribution, negotiating, pricing, supply and demand, competition, and selling. The improvement of personal skills is also necessary in areas such as time management, communication and relationships.

Many reps, manufacturers and their professional associations will tell you that sales reps must become schooled in every business and personal aspect that affects sales. They must be financially savvy and know their own business’ bottom line profitability. Following are several programs available that are helping sales reps to become sales professionals in all of these aspects.

A “Master” of Sales

In response to these needs for professionalism, several national associations have stepped forward to develop and offer programs that enhance the sales rep’s overall abilities. The premier program is the Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative (CPMR) Certification offered by the Manufacturers’ Representative Educational Research Foundation (MRERF). This program is also available through HIRA and MANA.

The CPMR certification program is aimed at owners and managers of representative, broker and agency firms. Applicants attend a one-week session for three years on a college campus, pass an exam at the end of each year’s session and then create a strategic business plan for their own firm.

The goals of this three-year CPMR program are to:

1. Provide executive education for owners and managers of professional field sales organizations.

2. Address the professional advancement needs of individuals already well established as manufacturers’ representatives.

3. Establish benchmarks of performance for multiple-line sales organizations.

4. Provide a recognizable mark of excellence for the top achievers in the field.

Certified Sales Professional

“Skills for Sales Success” is another MRERF educational program that is directed towards sales people who work within a representative or broker firm. This three-day course covers the fundamental skills of effective selling that are both tactical and strategic. The core sales competencies include:

. Consultative Selling Process

. Relationship Building

. Communications

. Strategic Sales Planning

. Local and Regional Marketing Strategies

. Time and Territory Management

. Self Management

. Personal Development Techniques

. Business Acumen

After completion of this course, participants are eligible to take an oral exam that will earn them a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) Certification.

Continuing Ed for Sales

The Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA), HIRA and MRERF offer seminars throughout the year to provide ongoing sales education. MANA hosts a one-and-a-half day CEU program in March plus two half-day CEU programs in the late spring and fall. HIRA is sponsoring programs at both Medtrade Spring and Medtrade Fall.

Every 18 months MRERF sponsors a continuing education program for CPMRs that is called “Back on Campus.” This program provides exposure to leading-edge business trends as well as new class sessions in the certification program.

The “Back on Campus” topics include:

. Negotiation

. Activity-Based Management

. Five Things Most Likely to Get Manufacturers’ Reps in a Legal Quagmire

. The New Emerging Customer

. How to Get There from Here (personal finance)

. The Rep-Distributor Relationship

Profitable Windshield Time

One of the best methods for honing sales skills is to listen to audiotapes while driving. Sales training tapes are readily available in most bookstores and from most associations. For the Tom Vollmers of the world who drive for days through the Dakotas trying to find their accounts, tapes are an inexpensive means to expand their professional horizons.

Over the years, a number of well-known professional sales trainers have developed sales tools and programs that are available through their books, seminars, audio and video tapes as well as online. These sales pros include: Kevin Davis, Marc Diener, J. Douglas Edwards, Barry Farber, Jeffrey Gitomer, Tom Hopkins, Dave Kahle, Geoffrey Moore, Neil Rackham, Brian Tracy, John Tschohl and Zig Ziglar. Training tapes from Hopkins, Tracy and Ziglar are guaranteed to jumpstart your selling skills and enthusiasm.

Manufacturers Learning to Sell

Both HIRA and MRERF now offer versions of the same course designed to teach manufacturers how to work effectively with sales reps. The four-hour seminar from HIRA is entitled, “How to Effectively Manage Your Rep Network,” while the one-and-a-half day course from MRERF is “Managing the Manufacturers’ Representative Network.”

This curriculum meets the needs of both top and middle management sales and marketing personnel. Its goal is to enhance manufacturer management’s skills and the understanding of how to select, manage, evaluate and profit from your rep network.

Topics include:

. How manufacturers’ representative firms operate;

. What manufacturers need to do internally to get the best results from their rep networks;

. Proven techniques and methods for planning, communications and evaluation; and

. Successful rep selection, training and management.

Multi-Line Sales Course

“Synergistic Selling for the 21st Century“ is a new 30-lesson training course for multiple-line salespeople, which was prepared for MRERF by Jack Berman. This program is based upon what Berman has learned in two decades of training multiple-line salespeople in numerous industries for MRERF.

The Synergistic Selling program focuses on three core competencies:

1. Skillful use of the Call Organizer (and how to use it in conjunction with your sales automation software).

2. Making Right Brain/Left Brain customer analysis work to your benefit.

3. Using Sales Aerobics to climb over hurdles.

If a sales rep lists CPMR or CSP after their name, now you know that this represents a higher level of professionalism. But even if salespeople simply listen to sales training tapes while driving or take a home-study course on their own, they are still enhancing their own expertise. And the bottom line in sales is selling: Learn more, sell more!

Resources Available:

Health Industry Manufacturers Association (HIRA)

800 777- HIRA


Manufacturers Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF)

800 346-7373


Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA)

949 859-4040


Jack Evans, president of Global Media Marketing, Malibu, Calif., is the editor of HIRA’s Communicator newsletter and a home healthcare marketing specialist. You can visit his web site at www.retailhomecare.com


Manufacturers' Forum

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Las Vegas Convention Center

Co-Sponsored by:

Health Industry Representatives Association,

Medtrade Spring

For more information, call 303/756-8115 or log on to www.hira.org