Sales Awards Blog

If Your Sales Team Has Been Nice, Not Naughty, in 2014...

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 @ 01:26 PM

Happy holidays and all the best to you and yours for 2015 from everyone at the Stevie Awards!

How has your salesforce performed this year?  Have they worked wonders?  Grown revenue?  Grown your client base?  Increased customer retention and satisfaction?  Do you have individual sales teams or performers you'd like to recognize?  Well we have a suggestion for you: nominate them for a Stevie® Award in the 2015 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  The final entry deadline is January 13.  Complete details are at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

Stevie AwardThese are the world's top sales awards and customer service awards.  The list of sales organizations and performers who've been recognized over the years reads like a who's who of sales excellence:  AMD, IBM, Marriott Vacation Club, Richardson... the list goes on. (You'll find complete lists of winners going back to 2006 on the website.)  There's no greater public recognition you can pursue for your star performers than a Stevie Award.  They could receive plaudits from esteemed judges around the world, and accept one of the world's most stunning trophies on a stage before more than 400 of their peers from around the world, during a ceremony that will be broadcast on radio across the U.S.A. (and simulcast worldwide.)

You've got a few weeks yet in which to prepare submit your nominations to the awards.  Here's what you need to do to get started and make sure your team is nominated.

1. Review the Categories
There's a wide variety to choose from. Find the list of them below.  There are categories to recognize entire departments (by industry), specialized teams, executives, as well as the sales reps who are pounding the pavement (or the phones or keyboards, as the case may be).
     TIP: Ask yourself this question: What do we want to be recognized for?  The answer(s) to that question will help you to choose your categories.

2. Prepare Your Entries for Your Categories
The entry requirements are listed below on the categories list .  Most categories require only an essay of up to 650 words about what the nominee has achieved since July 1, 2013.  (The nominee can be an entire company, a single person, or any size group in between.)  You also have the option to supplement your essay with any number of supporting materials to impress the judges.  These could include video clips, images, press clippings... whatever you'd like to include to help tell the nominee's story.
   TIP: Read some of the past Stevie Award-winning entries to get a sense of the types of entries that score well with our judges.  You'll find links to Gold Stevie-winning entries going back to 2006 on the website.

3. Submit Your Entries by the Deadline
The deadline again is January 13.  It's easy to submit entries through the website - begin here. It will take you no more than a few minutes to submit your entries online if you've already prepared them.

4. Contact Us for Help
Email us at help@stevieawards.com at any time, or call us at +1-703-547-8389 with your questions about category selection, entry preparation, the entry deadline...whatever.  We're here to help.

Sales Categories in the 2015 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

SALES INDIVIDUAL CATEGORIES
The sales individual categories recognize individual sales professionals.
Information required for entries in these categories include:
(a) An essay of up to 650 words describing the nominee’s accomplishments since July 1, 2013. 
(b) Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges. At the very least you should provide a link to the organization's website.

1. Senior Sales Executive of the Year
Recognizing senior sales executives with titles such as Chief Sales Officer.  This category may also be used to recognize senior corporate executives for their role in driving sales achievements.

2. Worldwide Sales Executive of the Year
Recognizing sales executives with responsibility for sales performance on a global level.

3. National Sales Executive of the Year
Recognizing sales executives with responsibility for sales performance on a national level.

4. Sales Director of the Year
Recognizing the achievements of sales directors at organizations of any size, of any type.

5. Sales Manager of the Year
Recognizing the achievements of sales managers and sales professionals with a managerial role at organizations of any size, of any type.

6. Sales Operations Professional of the Year
Recognizing sales executives and sales professionals with a managerial role for their achievements in managing sales organizations that run effectively, efficiently and in support of business strategies and objectives.

7. Sales Training or Education Professional of the Year
Recognizing sales executives and sales professionals with a managerial role who manage, design, or deliver sales training or education in any aspect of work life.

8. Sales Representative of the Year
Recognizing individual sales representatives for their personal contributions to organizations’ sales results. This category is split into four separate categories:
   a. Business Services Industries: recognizes sales representatives in business services industries such as advertising, consulting, marketing, public relations, recruiting, etc.
   b. Other Service Industries: recognizes sales representatives in services industries such as financial services, healthcare, hospitality & leisure, legal, media & entertainment, real estate, retail, etc.
   c. Technology Industries: recognizes sales representatives in technology industries such as computer software, computer services, computer hardware, internet/new media, and telecommunications.
   d. All Other Industries: recognizes sales representatives in all industries not covered by the other Sales Representative of the Year categories.

SALES TEAM CATEGORIES
The sales team categories recognize the members of individual teams within your overall sales department.  For example, the team may service a particular customer segment or a single client, or may work in a particular sales territory. 
Information required for entries in these categories include:
(a) An essay of up to 650 words describing the team’s accomplishments since July 1, 2013.
(b) Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges. At the very least you should provide a link to the organization's website.

20. Global Sales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams whose industry, client, or other focus has a global scope.

21. National Sales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams whose industry, client, or other focus has a national scope.

22. Government Sales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams whose charge is selling to government clients.

23. Field Sales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams that obtain the majority of their business out of the office at face to face meetings with clients.

24. Telesales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams that obtain the majority of their business by telephone .

25. Online Sales Team of the Year
Recognizing sales teams that obtain the majority of their business via online and social media.

26. Sales Support Team of the Year
Recognizing teams that provide administrative, logistical, or resource support to sales organizations.

27. Sales Operations Team of the Year
Recognizing teams that help sales organizations to run effectively, efficiently and in support of business strategies and objectives.

28. Sales Management Team of the Year
Recognizing the leadership teams of sales organizations for their achievements.

SALES ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORIES
Information required for entries in these categories include:
(a) An essay of up to 650 words describing the nominee’s accomplishments since July 1, 2013 in the area covered by the category.
(b) Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges. At the very least you should provide a link to the organization's website.

30. Sales Turnaround of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations for improvements since July 1, 2013, over the prior year.  Improvements in revenue, operations, and training will be considered in this category.

31. Sales Growth Achievement of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations for their improvements in sales growth - in revenue and/or units - since the beginning of July 2013, over the prior year.

32. Best Use of Technology in Sales
Honoring sales organizations for their innovative use of technology to improve sales operations, drive sales growth, and/or improve customer satisfaction since the beginning of July 2013.

33. Demand Generation Program of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations (and their colleagues in marketing) for their demand generation programs.

34. Outbound Marketing Program of the Year
Recognizing marketing programs that use advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

35. Inbound Marketing Program of the Year
Recognizing marketing programs that rely on content generation, lead development, and prospect cultivation.

36. Sales Process of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations for their development and use of sales process methodologies.

37. Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations for their development and use of sales training and coaching programs.

38. Sales Meeting of the Year
Recognizing sales organizations for creativity and effectiveness in their sales meetings. There is no entry fee for this category.

39. Award for Innovation in Sales
Recognizing new ideas and developments within sales that enabled organizations to implement creative selling and business development strategies, since the beginning of July 2013, to win new customers and grow revenue.

SALES DEPARTMENT CATEGORIES
The sales department categories recognize everyone who works in sales in your organization, regardless of their role or location.
Information required for entries in these categories include:
(a) An essay of up to 650 words describing your sales department’s accomplishments since July 1, 2013.
(b) Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges. At the very least you should provide a link to the organization's website.

40. Sales Department of the Year - Computer Hardware
41. Sales Department of the Year - Computer Services
42. Sales Department of the Year - Computer Software
43. Sales Department of the Year – Distribution & Transportation
44. Sales Department of the Year - Financial Services
45. Sales Department of the Year – Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Related Industries
46. Sales Department of the Year – Hospitality & Tourism
47. Sales Department of the Year - Industrial & Manufacturing
48. Sales Department of the Year  - Media & Entertainment
49. Sales Department of the Year – Public Services & Education
50. Sales Department of the Year - Services
51. Sales Department of the Year - Telecommunications
52. Sales Department of the Year – All Other Industries

Tags: sales excellence, business awards, stevie awards, sales awards

Why It’s Important to Listen, from a Sales Awards Sponsor

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 @ 11:26 AM

ValueSelling Associates, in Rancho Santa Fe, California, USA, is a sponsor of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world’s top sales awards and customer service awards. Find out how to enter the 2015 competition here.

The following article by Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling, was first featured on the ValueSelling Associates Blog in Jul. (You can also read about this year’s successful salespeople in the Sales Individual Awards categories on the Stevie Awards Sales & Customer Service website.)

ThomasIt’s a commonly accepted notion that buyers often don’t like salespeople. It’s your job to overcome that initial barrier by recognizing that a successful sales relationship hinges on your personal relationship with the customer.

Trust and rapport are essential in encouraging potential buyers to share their challenges and allow you to explore different solutions. People buy from people, so a sales relationship becomes more difficult if two people can’t communicate effectively.

The greater the trust and rapport, the easier it is to get the client to share their perspective, including their personal motivations, and to listen to how your products can create value for them.

Selling Is a Multilevel Communication Process

We trust people who appear to have the same model of the world as we do. We trust people who understand our problems. Whether you are building trust and rapport, persuading, or negotiating, selling is a multilevel communication process.

But active listening is a difficult skill to practice. We are often more comfortable talking and tend to believe that the best way to sell is to make a perfect presentation. Even when we aren’t talking, we are thinking about what we’re going to say next. Every moment spent thinking is one spent not listening. We run the risk of missing buying clues or critical information. We are in danger of missing lost opportunities.

Active listeners always ask themselves these questions:

  • Did I hear what they said?
  • Do I understand what they said?

5 tips for honing your active listening skills:

  • Give your full and undivided attention to the person who is speaking and, whenever possible, make eye contact.
  • If you are speaking with someone on the phone or VoIP, avoid distractions and the temptation to multi-task by emailing or texting. The person on the other end of the line can always tell!
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.  No one appreciates being interrupted; when you interrupt someone, you are sending the following message:  “What I have to say is more important than what you are already saying.”  Pause to gather your thoughts and respond thoughtfully. Pay attention to any lag time or delay if you’re using Skype and time your responses accordingly.
  • Clarify and confirm. Use breaks in the conversation to confirm what you heard and clarify what you understood. Trust and rapport are built through this process. Confirmation is critical to demonstrate your listening skills and abilities.  Asking follow-up questions and testing your understanding are very powerful and simple ways to prove you are listening.
  • Provide nonverbal feedback. If you are having a conversation in person, then nodding, appropriate facial expressions, and occasional verbal affirmations reassure the person you’re speaking with that you are actively listening.

While speaking well is important, our ability to listen, learn, and understand is essential. Active listening can be practiced on anyone, anywhere in an organization. It’s really about the quality of the conversations you have. The better the questions you ask, the better the answers. The more you listen to the answers, the better the conversation, and the more effective you will be as a sales professional.

About Julie Thomas

Julie Thomas, President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, is a noted speaker, author, and consultant. In a career spanning more than 24 years, she credits her mastery of the ValueSelling Framework® for her own meteoric rise through the ranks of sales, sales management, and corporate leadership positions.

Julie began her career at Gartner Group. In 1999, she became Vice President of Gartner’s Sales Training for the Americas, which included successfully managing the training of new hires in the ValueSelling process.  In 2003, Julie acquired ValueSelling Associates with the support of ValueSelling CEO and co-founder Lloyd Sappington. Since then, Julie has led the company to become an industry leader in competency- and process-based training for escalating sales performance.

Julie is a sought-after speaker at industry events such as the Selling Power Sales Leadership Conferences. She is a guest lecturer at both Babson University and the University of Michigan. In addition, Julie is on the advisory board of the eWomenNetwork Foundation Advisory Council and is heavily involved in her local public schools as well as the San Diego Children’s Hospital Auxiliary.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

About ValueSelling Associates

ValueSelling Associates, based in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, is the creator of the Value Selling Framework®, the sales methodology preferred by sales executives around the globe. Since 1991, ValueSelling Associates has helped thousands of sales professionals increase their sales productivity. Offering customized training to FORTUNE 1000 companies, mid-sized businesses, to early stage startup organizations, ValueSelling Associates’ proprietary sales training tools and consulting services deliver measurable results. Clients turn to the experts at ValueSelling Associates for classroom and online training and consulting services that yield immediate impact, repeatable strategies, and sustainable results to sales productivity.  For more information, go to www.valueselling.com

Tags: business awards, stevie awards, sales awards, valueselling, Julie Thomas

How to Price Your Product to Sell: Tips From a Sales Awards Sponsor

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Feb 07, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

Julie Thomas is CEO of ValueSelling Associates in Rancho Santa Fe, California, USA, a sponsor of the 2014 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top customer service awards and sales awardsValueSelling has associates around the globe, and recently appointed a new associate in China, so Julie is excited by the customer service awards category in the new Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards.  (Get your entry kit for this program here.)  Julie recently shared with us some insight on determining the right price of a product or service.

Julie ThomasDuring the objection-handling module of our ValueSelling sales training course, we ask participants: “What is the most common objection?” Nine times out of ten, the objection they get from the customer is: “Your price is too high,” or “You’re too expensive.”

The price objection is guaranteed to come up during most sales cycles. In the current economic environment, no one wants to pay more than necessary for any product or service.  In addition, buyers are more educated than ever before. Choices are plentiful. No one wants to overpay or be taken advantage of. With that said, we don’t need to lower prices to win the business … nor do we need to be afraid of discussing the cost of the products or services we sell.

Price objections are raised because the salesperson hasn’t yet demonstrated enough value for the prospect to feel comfortable in making a purchase.

Price and value are vastly different concepts, however. Price is what is paid for an item at a given time. It’s a short-term conversation. Value is an investment made in exchange for future benefits. Value is a long-term concept.

Does your product or service convey value?
Start by asking yourself these seemingly simple questions:

-What makes your company valuable to a customer?

-What is your unique selling proposition?

-Why should the prospect care?

Often a prospect gets the same pitch from both you and your competitors. Whether it’s great service, 24-hour availability, leading-edge technology, or more than 500 happy clients, they’ve heard it all. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what you think is valuable. What matters is what the customer perceives is valuable.

Once you identify what is valuable to your customer, it will be much easier to lead the prospect toward a buying decision.

Most sales professionals don’t spend nearly enough time to uncover the real value they offer the prospect. Still others don’t know how to articulate the value in a way that presses the customer’s emotional hot buttons.

Get the customer’s perspective
What’s the best way to pinpoint and promote real value? Get the customer perspective. Discover how your customer uses your product or service. Interview them by phone or in person, and find out:

-What do they like about your product or service?

-How does it make their life easier?

-How could your product or service be improved?

-How do they use your product or service?

-What causes them to use your product or service?

-How does it impact their customers?

This gives you a ripe opportunity to listen and be open to what the customer has to say. Even if the comments are less than positive, sometimes the mere fact that you’re listening helps to create a bond with the customer that is long lasting.

Become your own customer 

Believe it or not, some companies don’t even use their own products or services! First-hand experience gives you true empathy for the customer. You wouldn’t buy a car without reading the reviews, visiting various car dealerships, or taking a few for a test drive, would you? Often your product or service requires a much larger investment. So don’t just rely on information from marketing materials to fuel your sales presentations. Shop around, “test drive” the other products and services, and do a side-by-side comparison with the competition.

By being your own customer, you’ll quickly discover what’s so great about your product or service, and you’ll be able to articulate the value proposition more effectively.

Deliver value to your customer
Given that customers are faced with a vast array of decisions, opportunities, and alternatives all competing for limited funds, value matters more than ever before. Your job throughout the sales cycle is to determine the customer’s motivation for buying your product or service, and then articulate that value in such a compelling way that the customer feels comfortable making the decision to buy from you.

When it comes to decision criteria, these are the crucial measurements the customer weighs:

-Is the price worth the investment?

-Is the risk worth the reward?

-Is the effort worth the impact?

Value is in the eye of the customer
Make the effort to gain the customer perspective, passionately articulate your value, and then deliver value over and over again. Doing so will help you reduce the perceived risk, increase the positive impact you deliver, and speed the sales cycle.

For more information and insights on sales and selling, visit the Value Selling Blog.

About Julie Thomas:

Julie Thomas, President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, is a noted speaker, author, and consultant. In a career spanning more than 24 years, she credits her mastery of the ValueSelling Framework® for her own meteoric rise through the ranks of sales, sales management, and corporate leadership positions.

Julie began her career at Gartner Group. In 1999, she became Vice President of Gartner’s Sales Training for the Americas, which included successfully managing the training of new hires in the ValueSelling process.  In 2003, Julie acquired ValueSelling Associates with the support of ValueSelling CEO and co-founder Lloyd Sappington. Since then, Julie has led the company to become an industry leader in competency- and process-based training for escalating sales performance.

Julie is a sought-after speaker at industry events such as the Selling Power Sales Leadership Conferences. She is a guest lecturer at both Babson University and the University of Michigan. In addition, Julie is on the advisory board of the eWomenNetwork Foundation Advisory Council and is heavily involved in her local public schools as well as the San Diego Children’s Hospital Auxiliary.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

About ValueSelling Associates

ValueSelling Associates, based in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., is the creator of the ValueSelling Framework®, the sales methodology preferred by sales executives around the globe. Since 1991, ValueSelling Associates has helped FORTUNE 1000 business-to-business sales organizations compete and win in markets crowded with seemingly similar products and services. ValueSelling Associates has maintained its position as a leader in the industry by continually evolving to meet the new challenges sales forces face. Clients turn to the experts at ValueSelling Associates for classroom training, online training, and consulting services that yield immediate impact, repeatable strategies, and sustainable results. For more information, visit www.valueselling.com.

Tags: customer service awards, business awards, stevie awards, sales awards

Social Selling: What the Oracle Sales Team Is Learning from a Stevie Award Winner

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 @ 04:31 PM

Jill Rowley of Eloqua won the Gold Stevie Award for Sales Representative of the Year in the sales awards categories of the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top honors for sales, business development, contact center, and customer service professionals. (The entry deadline for the 2014 edition of the awards is November 13 - get your entry kit here.) Just before the award was presented in February 2013, Eloqua was acquired by Oracle Corporation .  Jill talked to us about the profound effect on her career that these two events have had.

1310RowleySail150Reaching the Pinnacle
After winning the Stevie Award for Sales Representative of the Year in the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, Jill Rowley had to ask herself: “Where do I go from here?”  She had reached the pinnacle of her profession by being recognized in a leading international awards competition.  With a trophy case that was already stuffed with awards, Jill realized that what she really wanted to do moving forward was not to win more awards, but to focus instead on helping others to achieve similar success.

At around the same time, Eloqua was being acquired by Oracle. To say that Jill was not excited when she first heard about this might be an understatement.  Being more of an entrepreneurial sales person, she had relished the ability to move quickly that Eloqua had offered her. Oracle, on the other hand, seemed like a big, political, hierarchical organization that would slow her down—or so she thought. Contrary to her expectations, Jill has found that working at Oracle has been a “shockingly awesome experience.”

Social Selling Training
Seeing that Jill’s expertise in “going social” had resulted in extraordinary sales at Eloqua, Oracle tasked her with educating their sales force in her award-winning methods.  She has now designed a social selling training program for Oracle sales staff, instructing on the why’s and how’s of leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

- The Why
Jill encourages sales people to read the same things that their buyers read, and to be in the same spaces.  She explains why:  “It’s all about changes in the buyers’ own circumstances. Nowadays they are online and self-educating via search and social networks, like using LinkedIn to find new staff.  Sales people need to be where their buyers are—offline and online.”

 At which point, adds Jill: “A light bulb goes on in their minds: Going social=building your sales pipeline!”

- The How
Having evangelized the why, Jill then moves on to the how.  For this, Jill has been put in charge of Social Selling & Social Business Evangelism and Enablement at Oracle, for which she is devising a series of training modules.

A Sense of Fulfillment
In less than a year, Jill has transferred from the small but successful company that was Eloqua—where she was the top sales rep and self-styled EloQueen--to the mega-company that is Oracle, with a worldwide salesforce of over 20,000.

Any change is hard, and at first Jill was hesitant to make the move, but she says: “Joining the Oracle team has evolved into an incredible opportunity to help other sales professionals modernize their beliefs and behaviors, something that I find incredibly rewarding.”

“The external valediction of the Stevie Awards, the recognition by others in my industry, has given me a sense of fulfillment.  I am now amped up and looking forward to helping others and to working on a much bigger playing field.”

Defining the Modern Sales Professional
Says Jill:  “Winning my Stevie Award back in February is partly what has allowed me to mentally shift gears. Instead of filling up my own trophy case, I am helping the sales people at Oracle to become modern sales professionals.  They are no longer selling to customers: they are helping their buyers to buy.”

Jill feels she is making real progress in her profession because she is helping other sales people to “go social.”  Not only is she helping to change the sales culture at Oracle, she is driving that transformation by being a thought leader in the space of social sales. 

Jill’s goal is to elevate the profession of salesperson worldwide. As she says, she is “shockingly surprised” at how well her new life is going.  In fact, she concludes, “I’m the luckiest girl at Oracle.”

Oracle and Eloqua
You can read more about Oracle and Eloqua on the Oracle Eloqua Blog.

About Jill Rowley
After six years in Consulting and thirteen years in Sales at Salesforce.com and at Eloqua, Jill has made an about-turn in her career: She now leads the Oracle Social Selling initiative.  Jill is currently responsible for evangelizing and enabling Oracle's global sales team on the Why, What, and How of Social Selling.

As an award winning, top selling sales executive, Jill utilized social media in her selling process. She mastered the art, and as a result is one of the most referenced experts in today's shifting world of B2B sales and marketing. From LinkedIn to Twitter to YouTube to SlideShare to Facebook, Jill practices the ABCs of Social Selling: “Always Be Connecting and Curating” quality content.

Jill defines the modern sales professional as an information concierge, a content connoisseur, an insights professional, and a mini-marketer with a personal brand. 

About Oracle
Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.

Tags: sales excellence, customer service awards, business awards, sales awards, jill rowley, oracle

Are You an Effective Sales Rep? Take a Stevie Awards Winner's Test

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 @ 10:31 AM

Dan Seidman, CEO of Got Influence? in Barrington, Illinois, USA, won the Gold Stevie® Award for Sales Training or Education Leader of the Year in sales awards categories of the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals. Here Dan discuses sales excellence.

Dan Seidman, CEOm Got Influence?This is a test, not a quiz.  Quizzes are easy.

This is a test that will give you a true measure of your understanding about sales skills.

This is a test. The right answers will improve your performance throughout the rest of your selling career.

Ready?  Answer the following three questions (and don’t cheat—write down the first answer that hits you):

  1. Who are you REALLY competing with? 
  2. What is the #1 PROBLEM encountered by anyone who sells anything?
  3. What is your RESPONSIBILITY on a sales call?

Now that you’ve written your answers, let’s work our way through each of these questions.

1. Who are you REALLY competing with?
No, it’s not you—though that might be the second smartest answer. In training sessions I’ve had salespeople tell me: It’s the cheapest competitor; the rep with the best rapport; the most persistent rep; or even the rep who offers the best bribe.

(And by the way, you do compete with yourself, in the sense that you can improve. By not improving, you are simply getting in your own way.)

Here’s the answer: You REALLY compete with the best sales professional that your buyer has ever encountered.

Think about that. Someone before you set a standard by which you and all others are measured. This might include how professionally you dress; your skill with words; your ability to sell without pressuring; your ability to ask the right questions; or your skill at reframing the issues.  Or it might reflect on your ability to quantify whether an investment in your solution will provide a worthy return on that purchase. Pack these together and you get the Best of the Best. That’s the framework for the buyer.

This buyer is probably not consciously comparing you against such elevated standards, but he or she somehow just remembers the experience of sitting down with that true selling pro.  So you’d better not be using old sales tactics that everyone’s heard a hundred times. You’d better truly distinguish yourself from other reps in order to gain a commitment from the buyer.

What do I like best about this answer? Outstanding selling pros will think: “Hey! I can be the one who sets the standard for all those other miserable reps out there. I can be the best.” And it gives them the incentive to work hard to outperform everyone they’re competing with.

How well do you want to attain selling immortality? You’ll need great training, or at least to adopt new strategies.  Try reading about, listening to, and viewing the latest sales techniques, and hang out with the best sales pros you can find.

2. What is the #1 PROBLEM encountered by anyone who sells anything?
The most popular response to this question? No money.

(I debunk this quickly in training by sharing a 12-page, single-spaced document of responses to the price objection. I have even compressed this masterful montage of objections and responses into one page—in a very tiny font!—so that reps can carry it around with them as a reminder that they have the flexibility to deal with any resistance related to money.)

Others respond that the #1 problem is no training, bad prospects, or the inability to reach the real decision-maker.

The real answer: The #1 PROBLEM you encounter is that you are chasing poor prospects.

Mention this to a room full of sales managers and their heads start nodding vigorously, like a freeway full of cars with bobble-head dolls during an L.A. earthquake.

We all do this: We look at the size of the sale or the prestige of the prospect or that smiling buyer and think: “YES! It’s a YES! They’re buying!”

Wrong. People really do hate to hurt your feelings, even if you’re a total stranger who has wrangled an appointment out of them. A prospect who acts nice, then tells you that they’ll get back to you, is not a good thing.  It’s a disaster.  So if someone says: “I’ll think about it and let you know,” you know. Chasing poor prospects is the biggest time-waster in the sales world.

This problem can be eliminated: Simply identify your perfect prospect and only court a prospect who fits that profile.

Who is your perfect prospect? Just look back at some of your best existing clients. Identify how you sold to them; what their needs were; how long it took to get to the real decision-maker; how quickly they made a decision. If you and your team can clearly identify a perfect prospect, you’ll stop chasing the poor ones.

3. What is your RESPONSIBILITY on a sales call?
(Hint: The answer has to be correct 100% of the time, whether you are talking about face-to-face meetings or phone calls.)

Here are some answers that are correct, but NOT 100% of the time: selling the buyer; educating the buyer; discovering the buyer’s needs; handling objections; finding the decision-maker; identifying the time frame for a decision; gaining an idea of the available budget; and so on.

The answer that is true 100% of the time?  Your RESPONSIBILITY on a sales call is to GET A DECISION.

If getting a decision is your key focus, it drives all your activity and language choices.

Here’s the how and why of decisions: You get a YES, that’s good—you sold them. You get a NO, that’s good—move on. You get a next step, that’s good—set the appointment for that next step. You get an “I’ll think it over,” that’s BAD, that’s not a decision.  So preempt that problem by asking your buyer to commit to a yes, no, or the next step.

This is the single most important concept any sales pro can learn and put into play.

The key to pulling this off is to draft a script that covers your rules of engagement. (You can use the script on the phone, but for face-to-face you’ll need to memorize it—while sounding spontaneous, of course.) The script might start: “Mr./Ms. Prospect, our conversation today is to determine whether we can work together. So at the end of our time, let’s figure out if it’s yes or no, or whether we need to set a next step …”

That’s just a snapshot of how this would work—and work it does, rather well, in fact.

How Did You Do?
You’ve finished the test and you have your three answers. How did you do? Did the responses here create a bit of an AHA! moment or two or three? Perhaps they made you say: “Ouch, I need a little work here.”

Think about how well your organization’s sales training measures up to these standards. You can produce smarter sales pros by teaching them concepts that mediocre reps won’t know.

Remember, to improve performance you must change behavior, and each of the three best responses requires a behavior change to put them into action.

Have some thoughts on these ideas? Please share them with me.

About Dan Seidman:
Dan Seidman is CEO of Got Influence? and one of the top sales coaches in the United States.  He is the author of the 600-page Ultimate Guide to Sales Training, (Pfeiffer, 2012), and six other books, including The Secret Language of Influence and Sales Autopsy!  Dan is also a consultant to the world’s leading training organization, ASTD (74,000 members), where he is helping to design a global sales-training program.

Dan is a former athlete with three Olympic gold medals for playing on the U.S. basketball team. He is married and lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Tags: sales excellence, business awards, sales awards, Got Influence, Sales training or education leader of the year, Dan Seidman

120 Rockstars of the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:12 AM

The following professionals participated in the preliminary-round judging of the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals. Their average scores determined the 2013 Finalists in the customer service awards, contact center awards, and sales awards categories.  This year's Stevie Awards winners will be announced at our annual awards gala at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, on Monday February 25. Learn more about the event and reserve your table today. We thank our judges for their enthusiasm, time, and insights.

Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer ServiceAhmed Al Hai, BRM Specialist, ADCO, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 
Cheryl Alaniz, Director, Member Services Grocery, HBC/GM, NFR, & Frozen, Topco Associates LLC, Skokie, IL, United States               
Kenneth Amormino, Director of Call Center Operations, Time Warner Cable, Charlotte, NC, United States               
Joann Amoroso, Manager, Client Support Services, Dean Evans and Associates, Centennial, CO, United States  
Paul Bilodeau, VP Sales & Marketing, The Brooks Group, Greensboro, NC, United States               
Greg Brink, Marketing Services Manager, Search Optics, Ferndale, MI, United States               
Jim Brodo, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Richardson, Philadelphia, PA, United States        
Amanda Browning, Data Integrity Manager, Unitiv, Alpharetta, GA, United States               
Gregory Brush, VP, Sales, InsideView, San Francisco, CA, United States 
Ana Castellanos, VP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Oakwood Temporary Housing, Los Angeles, CA, United States      
Chris Cerbini, Staff Development and Quality Control Manager, North America, World Courier Inc., New Hyde Park, NY, United States   
Peter Chiarelli, Sales Manager, Cablevision, New York, United States    
Susan Cloutier, Operations Manager, Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester, MN, United States               
Jason Copeland, Senior Manager, National Sales Group, SurePayroll, Inc., Glenview, IL, United States    
Irene Corpuz, Senior Analyst, Change Masters International - MENA, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates               
Brian Correia, Director, Sales & Client Services, Solstice Dental & Vision, Plantation, FL, United States               
Tom Cross, CEO, TECHtionary, Boulder, CO, United States            
Andrew Curtis, Manager, Product Specialists, iCIMS, Hazlet, NJ, United States   
Kelly Dantas, Media Director, SDI Distributor, Yonkers, NY, United States               
Robyn Davis, Owner, When I Need Help, Knoxville, TN, United States    
Brent Dierking, Director, Business Development/Strategic Planning, NorthStar EMS, Birmingham, AL, United States               
Alan Dowler, Operations Manager, Hamilton Jewelers, Princeton, NJ, United States       
Basil Dsouza, AVP, Customer Experience Management, Cactus Communications Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, India               
Eve Dumovich, CEO, Snowline Publishing, Ashford, WA, United States   
Annette Eland, Claims Customer Service Manager, Esurance, Rocklin, CA, United States               
Eric Engwall, President, E.G. Insight, Inc., St. Paul, MN, United States     
Richard Feinberg, Professor, Department of Consumer Sciences and Retailing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States   
Cheretha Ferguson, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship, The J3 Agency, Pembroke Pines, FL, United States
Andrew J. “Flip” Filipowski, Executive Chairman & CEO, SilkRoad Technology, Winston Salem, NC, United States
Joey Fister, Director Emergency Recovery, Avaya, Plano, TX, United States         
Simone Fojut, Chief Editor, CallCenterProfi, Wiesbaden, GA, United States         
Stephen Giersch, Director Instructional Design, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Orlando, FL, United States               
Gina Giordano, VP, Customer Feedback, Macy's, New York, NY, United States  
Abhishek Goel, Founder & Chief Customer Officer, Cactus Communications, Mumbai, India               
Karen Greco, Director, Business Optimization, Unified, New York, NY, United States               
Robert Gregory, VP of Customer Support, Media Temple, Culver City, CA, United States               
Jimmy Griffith, Director, Solution Center Operations, Assurant Solutions, Ft. Worth, TX, United States               
Shraddha Gurjar, Assistant Manager, Client Loyalty, Cactus Communications, Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, IN, United States 
Josh Hatala, Marketing Specialist, AIReS, Pittsburgh, PA, United States  
Brian Hayes, Customer Service Manager, PPC, East Syracuse, NY, United States
Peggy Heafey, Director, Intermediary Partner Care, Marriott Intl., Inc., Omaha, NE, United States            
Jane Henry, Owner, LOOMLAB, South Pasadena, CA, United States        
Paul Hoffman, President, WW Field Operations, Informatica, Redwood City, CA, United States  
Phillip Horvath, SVP, Professional Services, Merchant Partners, Redmond, WA, United States               
Tunde Hubina, Customer Care Director, UPC Direct, Howald, LA, United States          
Greg Ives, Director of Global Services, ChannelAdvisor, Morrisville, NC, United States    
Scott James, Program Manager, Member Advisory Center, Arizona State Retirement System, Phoenix, AZ, United States               
Joshua Johnson, Director of External Relations, Digital Talent Agents, Columbia, MO, United States               
JP Jones, Owner, Collipsis Web Solutions, Tulsa, OK, United States          
Molly Kapoor, Head of Customer Service, Birla Sunlife Mutual Fund, Mumbai, India        
JoAnn Kay, VP of Customer Service, GraduationSource, Port Chester, NY, United States               
James Koons, Support Team Manager, Listrak, Lititz, PA, United States 
Mike Krause, President, Sales Sense Solutions, Inc., Rochester, NY, United States           
Elzbieta Krawczynska, Quality Specialist & Trainer, Bank Zachodni WBK, Poznan, Poland
Rajesh Kumar, Assistant VP, Agency, Oman Insurance Company PSC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates          
Shane Lewis, Assistant VP of Sales, Sundance Vacations, Kennett Square, PA, United States               
Russell Lundstrom, COO, Southfork Ventures, Denver, CO, United States            
Mervat  Mansour, Quality Manager, Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates         
Wessam Massoud, Program Delivery Manager, Gov. Contact Centre, Abu Dhabi Systems & information Centre, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates    
Akshay Masurekar, Associate Vice President, Training & Mentoring (Customer Delight Department), Cactus Communications Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India            
Maria Mattsson, Manager, Guest Services, Royal Caribbean International & Azamara Club Cruises, Miami, FL, United States               
Colin  McKillop, CEO, Butcher Enterprises, Windsor, ON, Canada              
Curtis McLaughlin, Customer Support Manager, AllClear ID, Austin, TX, United States     
Jay Mitchell, Managing Director, Motum, LLC, Irving, TX, United States  
Simona Mollova, CEO, Investment JSPK Credit Consult - JSK, Sofia, Bulgaria             
Brian Moriarty, Vice President North America Sales, General Cable, Highland Heights, KY, United States
Dave Morse, VP Customer Service, Location Based Technologies, Irvine, CA, United States         
Gina Musick, VP, IT Manager I US ITS Loan Loss Share, TD Bank, Fort Pierce, FL, United States               
Pat Mussieux, Founder, Wealthy Women Leaders, London, Canada       
Emily Nelson-Crain, VP of Member Services, Agility Recovery Solutions, Charlotte, NC, United States               
Whattkim Ong, Principal Consultant, Mamsa Consultants PTE LTD, Singapore, Singapore  
Lisa P Oswald, Vice President, Travelzoo, New York, NY, United States  
Mark O'Toole, Managing Director, Public Relations & Content Marketing, H|B, Newton, MA, United States         
Steve Pappageorge, Dean of the College of Continuing Education, New Programs and Outreach, DeVry Inc., Downers Grove, IL, United States               
Darry Pinto, Assistant Manager, Client Relations, Cactus Communications Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India           
Melanie Pope, Director, Australian National Paramedic Support Foundation, Aspley Qld, AL, Australia               
Churchill Prince, Founder & CEO, Sales Intellect Company, Chennai, India     
Mike Prusinski, Chief of Staff, Tiversa, Pittsburgh, PA, United States       
Janet Quadras, Sr. Manager, CRM, Cactus Communications, Mumbai, India         
Jesintha Rajaratnam, Managing Partner, Joje India Consultants-Finance & HR, Mumbai, India     
Dennis Reno, Vice President, Customer Portal Experience, Oracle, San Francisco, CA, United States               
Peter Rifkind, Director of Client Service, UltraLinq Healthcare Solutions, Inc, New York, NY, United States             
Elizaveta Rybinskaya, Customer Service Director, Quelle Russia, Moscow, Russian               
Scott Sachs, Sr. Director, Call Center Operations, Assurant, Wayne, PA, United States               
Russell Sarder, Chairman and CEO, NetCom Learning, New York, NY, United States               
Jodi Sawyer, Director, John Hancock, Boston, MA, United States              
Stu Schlackman, Owner, Competitive Excellence, Richardson, TX, United States
Paula Seeger, Supervisor, Customer Service, Hotline, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States               
Dan Seidman, CEO, GOT INFLUENCE?, Barrington, IL, United States         
Randy Selleck, Sr. Director, Call Center Operations, Assurant Solutions, Atlanta, GA, United States               
Bahar Sensoz, Customer Complaint Management Specialist, Turk Telekom, Istanbul, Turkey       
Bill Shelton, Senior Vice President, USHEALTH Advisors, Grapevine, TX, United States               
Ramin Shokrizadeh, Product Manager, FreshBooks, Toronto, ON, Canada            
Clayton Shold, President, Salesopedia, Oakville, Canada               
Donnovan Simon, Director, Customer Systems & Global Alignment, SMART Technologies, Calgary, Canada               
Manu Singh, Contact Center Manager, Dubai First, Dubai, United Arab Emirates               
Ravinder Singh, Director, Search Engine Marketing, Kulwant Advisory, Nairobi, Kenya 
Cate Sommervold, CEO, pharmaCline, Sioux Falls, SD, United States       
Calvin St Juste, Department Manager, CapitalOne, Laurel, MD, United States     
Tanja Steinbach, Bachelor of Science, Inxmail GmbH, Freiburg, Germany              
Andrzej Szczepaniak, Deputy Director, Central Settlement Services, Bank Zachodni WBK, Poznan, Poland             
Will Tarrant, Cofounder/Owner, Service Metrics Group, Plano, TX, United States               
Özge Tekalp, Director, Türk Ekonomi Bankasi A.S, Istanbul, TX, United States      
Bob Thomas, Director of Business Development, Prorizon, Kennesaw, GA, United States               
Kathy Townend, Product Manager, Europ Assistance, San Diego, CA, United States               
Sean Tracy, Director of Client Services, Property Insight, Carol Stream, IL, United States
Lillian Valdes, President, At Your Service Hospitality Strategic Quality Trai, Miami, FL, United States               
Heather Valentine, Vice President Global Sales, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Manakin Sabot, VA, United States               
Lori Van Dyke, Manager Customer Care, Access One Inc, Chicago, IL, United States        
Vincent Vanden Bossche, Managing Director, Call Communications, Ottenburg, Belgium              
Tina Vasile, Customer Care Manager, Safe2Drive, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, United States     
Amy Veasley, Director of Call Center Operations, Assurant, Addison, TX, United States 
Dave Venance, Solution Architect, 4Point, Ottawa, Canada         
Madalina Vilau, Managing Partner, Expo Media, Bucharest, Romania      
Brian Ward, SVP Client Engagement, Stylesight, New York, NY, United States     
Glenn Wohl, eAwareness Manager, AT&T, Bridgewater, NJ, United States          
Nicolette Wuring, Managing Director, Customer Management Services, Amstelveen, Netherlands               
Julia Zamorska, VP of Corporate Communications, iolo technologies, Los Angeles, CA, United States               
Oleg Zeldin, CEO, Apex Berg Contact Center Consulting, Odintsovo, Russian          
Guo (Peter) Zijiang, COO & GM Assistant, Wuhan Kindstar Diagnostics Co., Ltd, Wuhan, China   

Tags: customer service awards, judging, preliminary judging, business awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, contact center awards, judges

3 Ways to Improve Sales in 2013, From a Sales Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 @ 03:09 PM

Fred Kessler, Founder of Sales Partnerships, Inc., is Chair of the final judging committee for the Sales Department Awards categories of the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals. (Finalists of the sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards will be notified on January 23 and winners of the 2013 edition will be announced at an awards banquet at Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on February 25, 2013. You can purchase tickets for the awards gala here.)

Fred Kessler, Founded, Sales Partnerships, Inc.As the founder of a company specializing in sales outsourcing solutions, what top 3 tips would you give to organizations wanting to improve their sales?

  1. The “little numbers” create the big numbers. If you wait until after a quota period to react to sales performance, you will lose almost half of your opportunity to increase sales. Even when you team is above target, there is a temptation to assume everything is optimal when it likely isn’t. Review the stats that are key performance indicators for the creation of new deals and act on that data since it will ultimately generate your success or failure.
  2. Big personalities don’t equal sales. Research shows extraverts have no higher likelihood to succeed in sales than the average sales representative. The problem is, they are often the most promoted and well recognized. Assess new candidates based on what they have achieved historically that is analogous to your environment; and whether they have the ability to solve problems you present them with in real time.
  3. Check your ego. You may have designed the sales process you are currently using, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one. Get trusted, independent advisors to review your data and ideas. Look at your sales force from an outside perspective, then ask: “Is this the right direction for us?”

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
Daniel Pink’s new work on selling, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, uses data akin to those Rackham used a decade ago. It’s one of the first new looks at sales using metrics and data in a long time. It’s creating a buzz for good reason. 

What is your favorite business app?
Google News
and its variants.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Teaching business courses.  Less than 60 U.S. universities offer classes in sales, and of them, only about a dozen even offer a minor in sales.  In the real world, however, it’s sales that determine the fate of a company—and it’s often the best incubator for future company leaders. 

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
What inspires me is helping our teams and individuals hit new records in overall sales. It’s exhilarating to see someone break a sales record or set a new bar for the team or the industry. Every day I ask: What am I doing to help our teams get ahead?

About Fred Kessler
Fred Kessler founded Sales Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) in 1997, with the addition of co-equity owner Aaron Kullman as VP of Operations early in 1998. The focus of the company was to change how the market sold products and services, and to create an environment for sales reps that showed respect and honor for what they did. Kessler built a company not only to help its clients but also to build the skill-sets of his own personnel and to give them better lives.

Kessler has been recognized as an innovator and pioneer in changing how the business of sales is done, both In his role as President of SPI and in his overall career in sales and sales management. He is a regular speaker at Industry events ranging from sales metrics through buyer motivation, and at Inc. Magazine’s Growth Conferences 

About Sales Partnerships, Inc.:
Sales Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) employs over 100 sales representatives in 7 U.S. cities. The company aims to help its personnel succeed by investing in training and development in order for them to mature into the most talented individuals they can be. SPI leverages this focus on internal development to provide best-of-breed services for its clients.

 

Tags: customer service awards, business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, Inc., sales awards, contact center awards, Fred Kessler, Sales Partnerships

One Grand Reason to Enter the 2013 Sales & Customer Service Awards

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 @ 02:22 PM

The final entry deadline for the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals, is tomorrow, January 15, and we thought it would be helpful if we shared one grand reason you should enter the 2013 awards.

Gold Stevie Awards TrophyHere's one more giant reason you should enter the 2013 awards: This will be your final opportunity to win the traditional, large Gold Stevie Award trophy. After this edition of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the large trophy will become the Grand Stevie Award in all of our programs, and a new, smaller Gold Stevie trophy will be conferred. The Grand Stevie Award trophy will be awarded to only a handful of organizations in each of our four competitions and the new Gold Stevie Award trophy will be the same size as the Silver and Bronze Stevie Award trophies. Read more about this here.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 125 sales awards, customer service awards, and call center awards categories honoring sales excellence and best customer service practices for individuals, teams, and departments, plus categories for products and service and solution providers. If you haven't yet done so, you can begin your submission process by requesting your entry kit here.

Finalists will be notified on January 23 and winners of the 2013 edition will be announced at an awards banquet at Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on February 25, 2013.

Have last minute questions regarding the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? Email us at help@stevieawards.com or call us at + 1 703-547-8389 and we'll get back to you right away.

Tags: sales excellence, best customer service, customer service awards, business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, call center awards, sales awards, grand trophy

5 Days to Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service Final Entry Deadline

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 04:18 PM

Tuesday, January 15 is the final entry deadline for the 2013 (7th annual) Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals.

Stevie Awards LogoIf you haven't yet done so, you can begin your submission process by requesting your entry kit here. The entry kit contains all of the instructions you need about how to prepare and submit your entries.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 125 sales awards, customer service awards, and call center awards categories honoring sales excellence and best customer service practices for individuals, teams, and departments, plus categories this year for products and service and solution providers. The 2013 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2011.

Information generally required for 2013 entries include an essay of up to 525 words describing the nominee’s achievements during the eligibility period; links to any online materials that support the nomination; and a brief (125 word) biography of the nominee.

To make the most out of your entries, we suggest downloading our 5 Tips for Winning Sales Awards in the 2013 Stevie® Awards tipsheet, reviewing past winners' entries, and watching our short video, How to Enter the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Winners of the 2013 edition will be announced at an awards banquet at Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on February 25, 2013.

Have questions regarding the 2013 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service?  Email us at help@stevieawards.com or call us at + 1 703-547-8389 and we'll get back to you right away.

Tags: sales excellence, best customer service, customer service awards, business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, call center awards, sales awards

3 Tips on Beating the Competition, From a Sales Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Jan 09, 2013 @ 12:25 PM

Robert Jeppsen is the Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales at Zions First National Bank in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and is the Chair of the final judging committee of the Sales Individual categories of the 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top business awards for contact center, customer service, business development, and sales professionals. (January 15 is the last day that late entries will be accepted for the 2013 edition. All organizations and individuals worldwide are eligible to submit entries for sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. If you haven't yet done so, you can request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.) Here Rob shares some useful tips on beating the competition.

Robert Jeppsen, Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales, Zions First National BankAs one of the top sales executives for a growing financial institution, what top 3 tips would you give to sales individuals seeking to make their mark in sales?

  1. Understand that HOW you sell is far more important than WHAT you sell.  Products are copied almost immediately, especially in financial services.  While products will be copied, experiences can’t be.  Making the client experience your priority, from the initial sales process on, is the most sustainable competitive advantage you can have.
  1. Discover the process that works in your marketplace.  With the right process you can do things that would otherwise be impossible.  Process gives you predictability in sales, which may be the most desirable thing a business can have.  This is particularly important in complex sales environments like financial services.  For example, in commercial banking, studies show that it takes a minimum of 6-8 calls to a potential client before they actually get serious about considering the new banker as a viable option.  Here’s the problem: Most bankers quit calling on a prospect after 2-3 calls, the perspective being that there is no opportunity. In reality, at this point a banker is only 25-30% of the way to the stage of being seriously considered.  Process allows you to have indicators that not only help to win more business, but also provide confidence about where you are in each transaction.  Once you discover it, the right process can be a huge and ongoing competitive advantage: less than 10% of salespeople currently use a milestone-based process as part of their regular approach to winning and retaining business.
  1. Products don’t matter.  My first law of sales is simple: “Products have no value. Products only derive value.”  Rather than have your call preparation be about product knowledge and product fluency, my suggestion is to learn the breadth of problems a product can solve and why those problems matter.  Nobody likes a “Press Play” salesman who just switches on a product pitch.  If you can be fluent and comfortable in having conversations about the impact—preferably a dollarized impact—of solving a business problem, you will find that your sales cycle time shrinks and your win rate will rise pretty quickly.  One of the most important skills a salesperson can have is fluency and confidence in deriving value.  The better you are at this, the more successful you will be.

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The most important news topic to me right now is U.S. fiscal policy.  New tax laws will have a huge impact on business owners and will create significant changes in our business environment.  With change there is always opportunity, and I want to be sure to be close to the changes that are inevitably coming in the short term. We saw a lot of business owners move into “hunker down” mode as the election drew near.  The jury is still out on the impact to business owners and their ability to grow.  As a financial institution that has been the #1 SBA lender in the Western United States, the economic environment for business owners is the most significant issue right now.  A lot of clients are asking us for insights into what the implications will be for them, and I want our team to be able to provide meaningful advice. 

What is your favorite app?
Like many sales leaders, I am on the road a lot and not able to attend many events back home with my family.  I miss a lot of the games that my kids play in, so an app that has been a real difference maker for me is GameChanger.  It allows an absentee Dad to “watch” a game by posting play-by-play updates, and for a Coach, it provides instant stats and match-up/coaching suggestions. (And as a sports fan, another app I don’t know what I would do without is ESPN ScoreCenter, which provides scores and news of sports leagues around the world.)

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I would be a basketball coach.  The most fun I’ve had came when I was a volunteer coach for a local high school’s varsity basketball team.  It was in a less-affluent part of our area and many of the boys had never had the experience of learning the relationship of preparation and success. They hadn’t had a winning season since 1972.  But we had a winning season that year, and qualified for the state tournament…a quick turnaround.   I am in sales because I love the competitive element.  It gives me that thrill of competition I used to have as an athlete.  But as much fun as it has been to achieve my own success, I have found the most fulfillment when I guide a team to a point where the collective group wins instead of just me.  A much larger challenge is a much more fulfilling one.  Coaching a NCAA D1 team would be about as good as it gets!

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
I love winning.  At Zions, we have a big team and big challenges.  Last year, every single one of our 10 regions hit goal.  We had 31% growth in a down economy, and we beat our 2007 production numbers with fewer people.

There are big challenges in our industry right now that require big plans and big execution.  I like taking the NOT out of CANNOT and helping people realize they can do things that others simply don’t think is possible.  I like to go out and do things that are just too inconvenient for my competitors.  It is a ton of fun and it makes everything worthwhile.

About Robert Jeppsen:
Rob Jeppsen is the SVP of Commercial Sales for Zions Bank. With over 16 years of direct sales and sales leadership experience, Jeppsen has worked in publicly-traded organizations, privately-held organizations, and has successfully led sales teams in the technology, pharmaceutical, and financial services sectors.

Jeppsen is a regular speaker at conferences nationwide and at universities in the Western United States. He is the creator of the Zions Bank Business Performance Series, a tool offered to Zions' clients interested in building a world-class sales system. The course was taken by over 500 businesses in the 2010-2012 period. 

About Zions First National Bank:
Zions First National Bank is a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation, which operates more than 500 offices and 600 ATMs in 10 Western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. As a full-service bank, Zions offers commercial, installment and mortgage loans; trust services; foreign banking services; electronic and online banking services; automatic deposit and nationwide banking and transfer services; as well as the more familiar checking and savings programs. For more information, go to https://www.zionsbank.com

Tags: sales excellence, best customer service, customer service awards, business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, call center awards, sales awards, Zions First National Bank, Robert Jeppsen