The Stevie Awards Blog

An interview with Julie Thomas, President & CEO, ValueSelling Associates, Inc.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

ValueSelling Associates has been a sponsor of the Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service for nine consecutive years

We spoke with Julie Thomas, President & CEO of ValueSelling Associates. Julie will be presenting awards at the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service gala in Las Vegas on February 24. She shares her thoughts and sales industry insights.

The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service announced finalists last week. People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service voting is now open through February 10. If you missed the Sales & Customer Service entry deadline this year, check out The American Business Awards Customer Service Awards categories

What does ValueSelling do?

Julie Value Selling.pngValueSelling Associates offers its customers a conversational, question-based sales methodology that is simple, logical and scalable. We offer customized training on the ValueSelling Framework®, interactive reinforcement tools and consulting services that empower sales organizations around the globe with a proven formula to qualify prospects, accurately forecast and close more deals. We work with business-to-business sales organizations who are working to improve their sales productivity. Some of the challenges that we address with our clients include reducing discounting, improving forecast accuracy, more effective qualification, and selling the breadth of the product line.

What is the organizational vision?

The vision is to continue growing our well-respected global business. We’re motivated by our clients’ results. Witnessing the effectiveness of the ValueSelling Framework when working with world-class sales teams such as Adobe, Alere, Kamstrup, Autodesk, Cisco, Google, Monster, NCR, Rockwell Automation, Servicemax, Siemens, and ServiceNow, keeps us fired up. 

We invest in and integrate the most current adult-learning concepts into our customized classroom instruction, on-demand courseware and tools, leading to thousands of participants each year developing skills that measurably increases sales productivity. We know adults learn more when they are having fun,  so we strive to deliver unique and exciting experiences for our clients.

What sets your company apart in your industry?

The ValueSelling Framework is easily applied to complex B2B sales. Our methodology gives you a framework to have a conversational, question-based dialogue. So, instead of pitching, you’re engaging. Instead of presenting solutions, you’re collaborating and competing based on value, and by that, I mean the value confirmed by the individual and the organization.

How did you first become acquainted with the Stevies?

I met Michael Gallagher, President of The Stevie Awards, over 10 years ago. We became involved with the Stevie Awards at the very beginning. We welcome the opportunity to recognize our clients’ individual and organizational impact through this prestigious organization.

What’s it like for your clients to win the Stevie Award?

We put a lot of thought into which clients to nominate for the Stevie Award for Sales & Customer Service. It’s thrilling to be with them at the gala in Las Vegas, celebrating their achievements.  There are high fives, champagne toasts and lots of celebrations when the awards are announced. Our clients prove time and again the power of the ValueSelling Framework and correlate that to their outstanding results. During the Gala, we get an opportunity to toast and applaud their dedication and successes.

What inspires you to continue your work?

It’s fun! Each organization is unique. There are many different challenges: meeting revenue numbers, forecasting more accurately, growing strategic accounts, and difficulty accessing high-level executives, among others.

What’s inspiring is watching how our team and the ValueSelling Framework methodology is a wonderful solution to enabling our clients to resolve their business issues. It’s transformative, not only for individuals, but for entire teams and organizations. We pride ourselves on enabling the entire organization to wrap around our framework, create a common language and leverage a common toolset. When everyone inside a company is focused on value for their customer, then, they are well positioned to develop long-standing customer relationships.

What changes do you expect in your industry in the future?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of emphasis on sales software solutions and technology tools such as sales asset management and marketing automation platforms. Used well, these are great tools for supporting the sales effort.

Another key trend is the increase in inside sales – not telemarketers, but true inside sales professionals who build relationships and sell products and services solely over the phone and the web. The tools and techniques to become proficient and communication are different when you never build a face-to-face relationship.  That said, the inside sales professional will continue to need and leverage a successful sales methodology.

In the end, it comes down to people connecting with people virtually and social selling is a technique that is needed by sales, but success in sales requires having real conversations  either in person or by phone about the business issues and problems a buyer is facing.

On-demand courseware will become more prevalent, but the critical success factor will be presenting information in a way that keeps adults tuned in. That means smaller chunks of learning and just-in-time learning. That’s why our eLearning modules include interactive quizzes and scenarios. It’s not enough to just show a canned video or slide with a talking head. Gamification and user-centric learning is here to stay.

Given the uncertainty in the world, I expect that businesses are going to seek tried and true solutions. For over 25 years, the ValueSelling Framework has been helping organizations around the world maximize their sales productivity, better qualify prospects and improve win rates.

Is there an inspirational story related to your organization that might appeal to our blog readers?

Market Track, the leading provider of timely market intelligence solutions serves more than 1,700 brands, retailers, manufacturers, and agencies. Market Track supports clients with comprehensive analysis of the advertising, promotional, and eCommerce landscape to optimize engagement with consumers throughout their purchase cycle.

Business Issue: How do you get an entire sales team on the same page with a single methodology given the requirements of a steep growth trajectory and the continual addition of new sales professionals with various sales training and backgrounds?

Problem: In 2008, Market Track’s value proposition was murky. There was no proactive client or prospect engagement. The close rate low.

The management team knew sales would fuel future growth plans. And because the sales team was selling an intangible—tech-enabled service—they had to sell on value. Market Track called on ValueSelling Associates to install a sales methodology that could be implemented consistently to drive rapid growth.

Solution: Market Track has quintupled its revenue since adopting ValueSelling Associates’ proprietary sales methodology. Such sales improvements have allowed the firm to make 11 acquisitions in 8 years and broaden its portfolio.

The resulting, expanded organization successfully integrates new sales executives and managers with a consistent methodology and approach across each of the acquisitions so the company is supported, not stymied by additional team members.

Market Track's overall adoption is stellar because the sales methodology and tools are easy to apply in a war room or deal review. With a common sales process, the team maximizes their weekly gatherings, sharing best practices—new templates, better conversations, more innovative strategies—all honed to engage Market Track’s buyers.

Market Track continues to organically grow as they keep a pulse on their clients’ advertising, promotion, and eCommerce initiatives. In 2016, the firm had its best first half ever. Justin Hartanov, Market Track EVP (recently appointed to lead Market Track’s international expansion) and 10-year ValueSelling practitioner, swears by his team’s consistent practice of ValueSelling principals.

To learn more about ValueSelling, visit http://www.valueselling.com/

Tags: customer service awards, best sales department, sales team, sales awards, best sales practices, sales leader

Insights from Sales Partnerships, Inc.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 @ 02:44 PM

An interview with Fred Kessler,  CEO of the highly respected sales outsourcing firm, Sales Partnerships, Inc.

Sales Partnerships has provided outsourced sales solutions since 1997. Among their many Stevie Award wins, the company recently won the Silver Stevie in Sales Outsourcing Provider of the Year - along with a slew of other Stevie Awards in multiple categories. They were named as a Grand Stevie-winner in 2016 and are also a sponsor of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service for the second consecutive year.

We got the chance to talk to Fred Kessler, CEO of Sales Partnership, Inc., about how the group first submitted nominations to the Stevie Awards years ago and how they’ve remained involved since then.

The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service has closed for nominations. The 2017 American Business Awards offers Customer Service Awards categories and will accept entries through February 16. Late entries will be accepted through March 15. 

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

Fred looked back on when they first, “heard about the Stevies in 2007 and knew it was something we wanted to be a part of. That year marked our first win – as the winner of the top Sales Outsourcing Provider. We’ve repeated as winner in that category several times.”

Sales partnerships.jpgSales Partnerships has become known for helping companies overcome their challenges. Fred relayed that, “Sales Partnerships helps top brands navigate the challenges of market expansion and customer engagement via field engagement and outsourced sales solutions. Utilizing our proprietary technology and best practices, Sales Partnerships provides integrated sales and marketing solutions for market launch, customer engagement, customer acquisition and retention.”

Since 2007, Sales Partnerships has continued to win Stevie Awards.Fred explained why their involvement with us has been beneficial: “We first got involved in participating in the Stevie Awards several years ago when we were just signing some of our first big accounts. We thought it would be a good way to get our name out there, network some of the other participating companies, and learn from each other.”

Being recognized for progress in your field is important; Fred explains why the Stevie Awards matters to the firm:

“We take pride in the wins. Recognitions for being the best at what we do are important.”

Fred also acknowledged how winning Stevie Awards has directly affected their business.

“Our Stevie wins have helped reinforce the reputation we’ve built over two decades of being the industry leader in Sales Outsourcing. “

We asked Fred what trends have come and gone over the years and how they have stayed relevant:

“Old school approaches to sales are increasingly failing. Field representatives aren’t there to just parrot information about products. Market targeting and approach have to be far more than just intuition or guessing about where the best opportunities will exist. Today’s success in field engagement requires getting the best talent, constantly honing them, and equipping them with best tools and analytics about their territories. Smart applications of big data, cutting edge use of analytics to maximize sales, and leveraging real time information to adjust and to maximize markets is now the requirement to be competitive. Today’s best field engagement teams will require evolution of the best practices and technologies – the industry is in a state of renaissance that will separate those willing to take the steps to achieve the best results and those left behind.”

Though the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 135 Sales Awards, the Sales Partnerships vision has remained focused on continuing their success in changing times.

“The vision of Sales Partnerships is to continuously develop best of breed solutions to allow for engagement with customers in the field as branded representatives for our clients. We serve as an extension to our clients’ brands which allows them to expand their market presence in ways difficult to do on their own. This provides brand protection and focus not possible through resellers or independent rep organizations. ”

Fred concluded that, “We focus on developing the most productive processes for recruiting, training, field management, territory management, and analytics to drive maximized marketing and sales goals for our clients. Large companies trust us to be their field forces globally. We strive to always deliver far above any other option they could have used while vigilantly protecting and advocating for their brands.”

Learn more about Sales Partnerships here 

Tags: customer service awards, sales awards, Sales Partnerships, best sales team, sales outsourcing, sales leader

Stevie® Award Winner Provides Corporate Lodging Solutions

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jan 03, 2017 @ 04:08 PM

An interview with Tabatha Conway, Marketing Director, Creative Lodging Solutions

Corporate lodging services provider Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS™) was presented a Silver Stevie® for Sales Growth Achievement of the Year at the 2016 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service in Las Vegas. Chief Sales Officer Cindy Rudovich also was named Senior Sales Executive of the Year - Bronze Stevie-winner.

Review the entry kit now to see how your organization can win Sales Awards. The final entry deadline for the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service is January 11.

What does Creative Lodging Solutions do?

Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning travel management company that provides customized lodging programs for corporate clients nationwide. Our services provide assistance with lodging expense control, negotiated rates, consolidated billing, and travel policy adherence. CLS has reserved over 11 million traveler nights.

What is your role in the organization?

I’m the Marketing Director.

Creative lodging.jpgWhat is the organizational vision?

Creative Lodging Solutions’ founding vision is to create profitable companies that allow us to provide revolutionary generosity. To fulfill our vision, we must be profitable; however, we are not in business solely for the betterment of our own lives. We exist to make a difference in the world. It is our philosophy that you cannot take it with you when you die but you can send it on ahead.

What sets your company apart in this category?

Creative Lodging Solutions’ fast-paced growth is fueled by our sales team who consistently surpass their annual goals despite any slowdowns in the economy or industry sectors we serve. The sales team has proven to be resourceful in expanding CLS’ market share with revenue exceeding $138 million in 2016.

How did you first become acquainted with the Stevie® Awards?

We’ve participated in various Stevies awards programs for several years.

What was it like for your company to win this award?

We were honored to win a Silver Stevie for Sales Growth Achievement of the Year. It was an exciting recognition for CLS’ sales team.

How has the win affected your business?

Winning this award provided our sales team with national recognition for their accomplishments which propelled them toward ongoing success.

What results have been gained since you've won this award?

Our client base increased by 26% and revenue has increased by 17% so far in 2016 with numbers continuing to climb.

What inspires you to continue your work?

Creative Lodging Solutions has an amazing team that’s truly passionate about serving our clients. The organization’s owners continue to invest back into the company with new technologies and a new corporate headquarters built in 2015. It’s exciting to see the results of our work as we expand and create new jobs while giving back to the community.

What do you expect to change in your company in the future?

Creative Lodging Solutions currently focuses on long-term and project based stays. We plan to enhance our services in 2017 and offer additional business travel solutions to our clients.

Learn more about Creative Lodging Solutions

creative lodging office.jpg

Tags: sales awards, sales leader

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