May 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated

Page 48

CNC ROUTER business By ashley Brad Burnett bray

the right representation S ign shops may think they understand the sales model in our industry—manufacturers supply their products through distributors who then provide them to sign shops. However there is a role in our industry that is gaining more and more attention—that of manufacturer’s reps. “A manufacturer’s rep is the outsourcing of a function to an independent firm so [a manufacturer] can focus on their core competencies,” explains Charles Cohon, CEO & president of the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA). The rep provides sales services on a paid-for-performance basis.


Sign Builder Illustrated

May 2017

“There’s little risk because your sales cost is in direct proportion to your sales,” says Cohon. “If you have a sales employee, you’re paying salary and expenses. You have all kinds of costs that are fixed whether you sell anything or not.” Manufacturer’s reps are prevalent in other industries like construction, but their growth has been slow in the sign industry. Cohon believes this may be attributed to the issue of control versus efficiency. “The reason that people tend not to adopt reps is they confuse control with efficiency,” he says. “They feel like if they don’t control the situation, then they’re not going to get their money’s worth.

When, in fact, exactly the opposite is true. “If you attempt to control from Chicago the way sales calls are conducted in Pittsburgh, your Chicago-based biases, the way that you’re used to conducting business, and just the physical distance is going to undermine your efficiency.” (Note: MANA recently launched a podcast series on manufacturer’s reps: Another reason that manufacturers may be hesitant to use reps is the perception that they are “sharing” time with the other companies a rep may be working for. Cohon believes this is a problem of perception versus a check in the

All Photos: Yorston & Associates.

How manufacturer’s reps can benefit your shop.