Continuing education is a primary focus of ERA. Some of the most valuable learning occurs on an informal, rep-to-rep basis among members, but organized activities and easily accessible resources, like the following, are also critical.
NATIONAL ERA CONFERENCE and Other Events for reps and manufacturers offer how-to and informational programs, workshops and networking focused on sales management, marketing and sales/industry trends.
ERA WATER COOLER – An Open Forum During Times of Uncertainty – ERA’s weekly teleconference series provides an open forum to both ERA members and non-members. Participants can join in on the conversation and contribute to different topics by sharing challenges that ALL of us face today.
ERA PODCAST – ERA’s monthly podcast series, ERA Talks, features informative and educational interviews with industry leaders in a quick conversational format.
TELEFORUM LIBRARY for rep and manufacturer personnel focus on sales strategies and relationship-building topics. They are conducted by ERA sales consultant and professional coach Nicki Weiss. One or more veteran reps or manufacturers also co-facilitates each session. Teleforums are conducted every other month (alternating with Webinars), and all registrants receive the audio files for future reference. Since January 2009, ERA has offered 30+ teleforums covering a broad range of topics for both reps and manufacturers in the ERA Teleforum Library, and as an ERA Member you can now access the audio files of these programs.
ERA WEBINAR LIBRARY – interactive seminars that are also offered every other month. They cover a broad range of subjects targeted to rep firm and manufacturer personnel. The member cost per connection is $65, and a single connection can be used by multiple attendees in one location. Audio and PowerPoint files from all ERA Webinars to date are available for purchase at just $20 per program.
CPMR and CSP PROGRAMS are the standards of rep professionalism. ERA members receive tuition discounts on both courses from the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF), which was founded by ERA in 1985 and now includes 30+ associations as sponsors.
The CPMR (Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representatives) program, for rep firm owners/president/successors, runs one week a year for three years (every January at University of Texas at Austin).
The CSP (Certified Professional Salesperson) program, for rep firm salespeople, is a multi-day class conducted in various cities several times each year.
CHAPTER PROGRAMMING and Activities are members’ local connection to their fellow reps in the same territory. The rep-specific educational and informational programming and events include: how-to seminars; presentations by leading manufacturers and customers; local trade show sponsorship; industry social events; scholarship programs; rep-to-rep exchanges; and outstanding networking opportunities.
THE REPRESENTOR Magazine is a quarterly periodical of 36-48 pages produced for reps and manufacturers. It is sent to all member reps and 3,000 manufacturers at no charge. The content covers: field sales processes; rep firm and sales management; marketing; rep-principal relationships; legal, tax, public relations, sales and technology advice columns; industry news; plus ERA chapter and marketing group news.
“REP FIRST BEST PRACTICES” are shared on a national and local level whenever ERA members come together. In addition, industry guidelines are available on the ERA Web site on becoming a rep, operating a rep council, requesting split commissions, reporting POS and forging shared investment plans (for missionary lines). Also available are summaries of rep commission protection laws in effect in most states.
ERA CONTRACT GUIDELINES AND EVALUATIONS are available on ERA’s Web site for agreements between: reps and manufacturers; stocking reps and manufacturers; reps and employees; reps and sub-reps. Also available are forms/guidelines for reps to evaluate prospective principals and for manufacturers to evaluate prospective reps.
The ERA PUBLICATIONS LIBRARY provides many other resources which are downloadable from the ERA Web site, including: a multi-year archive of The Representor magazine; resources describing why and how manufacturers benefit by selling through reps; reprints of industry publication articles; and a cost-of-sales spreadsheet (for manufacturers to compare rep versus direct costs).