Sales Awards Blog

Creating the Sales Leaders of Tomorrow with The Horton Group

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, May 22, 2017 @ 02:52 PM

How does a company cultivate future success when many of its sales leaders are nearing retirement age?

That’s a question The Horton Group, like a lot of insurance firms, has wrestled with lately. Their solution: make sure that new, young hires have the skills they need to develop a productive, lasting career.

According to one report, half of the industry’s current workforce will retire within 15 years. “The No. 1 challenge facing insurance agents and brokers is attracting and developing talent for the future,” says Beth Ottolini, a member of Horton University, the company’s educational arm.

horton.jpgThe Horton Group created a customized, diverse learning program to help ramp up the skills of new employees. Over a six-month period, its instructional team developed a sales training program called “Journey to Validation” that’s already made a difference.

The Journey to Validation, received a Gold Stevie Award in the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service for the Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year. The Journey to Validation consists of four stages of learning that provide rookie sales executives with the knowledge base and skills necessary to successfully progress from their first day in the program to ultimate validation with the company.

A New Learning Paradigm

Founded in 1971 as a small, family-owned insurance agency, The Horton Group now provides insurance, employee benefits and risk advisory services to a wide range of business clients. Based in the Chicago suburb of Orland Park, Ill., the organization employs more than 350 employees working out of 10 locations, most of them in the Midwest.

Prior to the development of Journey to Validation, most of the company’s training was done through apprenticeships and job shadowing. Whatever formal training the new hires needed was provided by external vendors.

But company leaders realized that in order to overcome the unmistakable demographic changes within the industry, they needed a more robust approach. Journey to Validation was the company’s first internally-developed tool for making sure that every new hire had the knowledge and foundational skills he or she would need to launch a successful career.

In 2016, the company hired a four-member team to help build the program from the ground up. That was a definite departure from the way holistic learning programs ‒ often the byproduct of large development teams and consultants ‒ are typically designed.

And in this case, the development team, led by Director of Training and Development Jay Fortuna, wasn’t much older than the rookie salespeople who would eventually use their modules. The average age of the members was just 30.

But what the group brought to the table was a fresh perspective and forward-thinking approach to the way younger associates digest information. Developed in just six months, the Journey to Validation program would ultimately incorporate newer ideas like gamification and micro-learning ‒ a system in which learners concentrate on small, focused lessons ‒ along with proven techniques like shadowing.

The program consists of four steps, which combine online learning as well as in-person training. One of its strengths is the ability to track the progress of brokers to make sure they’ve developed the basic industry knowledge and sales skills they’ll need in their new role.

Along with the Gold Stevie for “Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year”at the Las Vegas awards ceremony, The Horton Group also walked away with two Bronze Stevies, including one for “Sales Training or Education Leader of the Year” for Fortuna.

Continuous Improvement

Ottolini says the program was the result of a highly collaborative atmosphere that puts a premium on continuous improvement. “The pride that the team takes in its work and the extreme ownership of training strengths and shortcomings has led to a recognition that is both humbling and motivating,” Ottolini says.

One of the ways the team helps establish a sense of trust is by sitting down for lunch together every day and bouncing ideas off one another, explains Ottolini.

The group also makes it a point to put themselves in the shoes of new hires. Towards that end, all Horton University team members participate in monthly team-building events with rookie sales executives as part of the training program.

So far, the team, which initially had some trouble achieving buy-in for its novel approach, has won plaudits throughout the organization.

“The infectious enthusiasm and passion emanating from the Horton University team has set a new standard within the company and continues to positively influence the culture of the corporation as a whole,” she says.

Now, the organization is building on its success by developing other learning initiatives, like a service training module and a continuing education program that enables employees to hone their leadership skills.

The internal expertise they’ve demonstrated could also provide a benefit to other members of Assurex Global, the network of commercial insurance, risk management and employee benefits agencies to which Horton belongs. “In the coming months, the team is expected to provide consulting services to other Assurex-affiliated organizations,” Ottolini adds.

These latest Stevie accolades will only help give the program further credibility, she notes. Fortuna originally learned about the Stevie Awards while working at a previous employer. When he joined The Horton Group, one of his goals was to help create a sales training program that merited recognition from Stevie panelists.

In a matter of months, their goal has already come to fruition. “Horton University’s recognition at the 2017 Stevie Awards has done wonders to bolster The Horton Group’s culture of learning,” says Ottolini.

Interested in submitted nominations for the top sales awards and customer service awards in 2018? Request the entry kit for the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and it will be emailed to you in July 2017.

Tags: customer service awards, sales awards, sales training, sales coaching

Sales Partnerships to Sponsor Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service for Second Consecutive Year

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jan 03, 2017 @ 11:14 AM

Awards Recognize World-Best Achievements in Sales, Business Development
and Customer Service

The Stevie® Awards, organizers of the world’s premier business awards programs, have announced that Sales Partnerships, Inc., which provides turnkey, outsourced selling solutions, has signed to be a sponsor of its Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service program for the second consecutive year.

The 2017 (11th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are accepting nominations through January at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.  The program recognizes the year’s best achievements in sales, business development and customer service.  The awards will be presented at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on February 24. 

Sales partnerships.jpgSales Partnerships is an industry-leader in outsourced services for building business-to-business field sales teams and field engagement teams for Fortune 500 companies.  Sales Partnerships has been providing outsourced sales solutions since 1997, and is one of the most highly respected sales outsourcing firms in the market.

According to Fred Kessler, CEO of Sales Partnerships, “The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service has grown to be the premier honor for sales professionals worldwide, and it’s proven to be an outstanding platform on which Sales Partnerships can interact with sales leaders in a wide variety of industries.  We’re delighted to sponsor the awards again in 2017.”

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 135 sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, new product awards and solution provider awards categories. Entrants may submit any number of nominations to any number of categories, which include:

  •         Sales Individual categories such as Senior Sales Executive of the Year and Sales Representative of the Year
  •         Sales Team categories like Global Sales Team of the Year and Online Sales Team of the Year
  •         Sales Achievement categories such as Sales Turnaround of the Year and Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year
  •         Sales Distinction categories in 13 industry groupings
  •         Customer Service and Contact Center Individual categories such as Front-Line Customer Service Professional of the Year and Customer Service Leader of the Year
  •         Customer Service and Contact Center Team categories like Contact Center of the Year and Back Office Customer Service Team of the Year
  •         Customer Service and Contact Center Achievement categories such as e-Commerce Customer Service Award and Award for Innovation in Customer Service
  •         Customer Service Department categories in 11 industry groupings
  •         Customer Service Success categories in five industry groupings, to recognize the customer service-related achievements of organizations without a formal customer service function
  •         New Product and Service categories like Best New Business Intelligence Solution and Best New Marketing Solution
  •         Solution Provider categories such as Sales Consulting Practice of the Year and Incentive, Rewards or Recognition Provider of the Year
  •         Business Development categories such as Business Development Professional of the Year and Business Development Achievement of the Year    

The 2017 program offers new categories for new products and services and solution providers. New categories for new products and services include Customer Service or Sales Book of the Year, Customer Service Training Product of the Year and Sales Training Product of the Year. The new solution provider category for 2017 is Leadership or Management Training Practice of the Year.

The 2017 competition will be judged by more than 200 professionals around the world.

Stevie Winners in the 2016 edition of the awards included Adobe Systems, Cars.com, Comcast, CubeSmart, Delta Air Lines, DP DHL, Etiya, eZCom Software, FedEx, HubSpot, IBM, ISN Software UK Ltd., Kohl’s Department Stores, Office Depot, Ooyala, SAVO, ServiceMax, ShopKeep POS, Sirius Decisions, SugarCRM, VIZIO, Inc. and Vodafone Turkey, among others.  The full-text of Gold Stevie-winning nominations are available on the website.

The 2017 entry kit and a complete history of the awards program are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

About Sales Partnerships, Inc.
Sales Partnerships, Inc. was founded in 1997 with the mission to combine best practices in sales recruitment, training, management, quality assurance, and selling technologies into a complete services platform that consistently delivers exceptional results for our clients. Sales Partnerships has been recognized and awarded multiple times as the best sales outsourcing firm in North America, for innovation in the fields of applied sales technology, best service offerings, one of the best places to work, and for the individual accomplishments of its sales professionals and key leadership team members.  Visit http:// www.salespartnerships.com

Tags: best customer service, customer service awards, sales awards

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

A Simple Methodology Spells Sales Success for Stevie® Awards Final Judging Chair

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 @ 02:33 PM

Mike Ortegon, Director of Global Sales Operations at HomeAway, a Stevie® Award-winning online marketplace of vacation rentals based in Austin, Texas, will Chair the Final Judging Committee for the Customer Service and Contact Center Team categories of the 2014 Stevie®ST SD Chair ORTEGON Awards for Sales & Customer Services, the world's premier sales awards and customer service awards. The results will be announced on February 21 at the gala awards banquet in Las Vegas. We talked to Mike about the challenges facing today’s sales teams.

“Today’s sales professionals are challenged by savvy customers and prospects,” says Mike Ortegon, Director of Global Sales at HomeAway.  “Thanks to digital and social media advancements, they have many channels of information and are consequently better informed during the purchase cycle. As a result, it is essential for sales professionals to stay one step ahead in preparation, to anticipate upselling and cross-selling opportunities, and to be consultative throughout the process.”

We asked him what steps he would recommend companies should take to establish standardized sales procedures across countries and regions. “You might be prone to think a unique product or service requires a special sales process,” Mike told us. “Some may even argue the selling process has to continually change, but my experience is that the change is occurring in the buying process, as noted above. Today’s buyers are more informed than ever.”

Simplified Methodology

“Many sales people are familiar with the ‘four, five, six, seven...sales cycle’ methodologies,” added Mike. “In reality, each of these can be boiled down to four steps: Qualify; Research; Propose; and Close. A simplified methodology enables people to focus on the sale, not the process.”

Concluded Mike: “It is always important to pay close attention to cultural differences, although just because someone speaks a different language doesn’t mean a different sales process is needed. For example, in some countries such as Southern Europe and Asia, face-to-face selling is a common practice, while other cultures are fine with a phone call. In any scenario, you still need to qualify, research, propose and close.”

Benefits of a Stevie® Award
HomeAway won a Gold Stevie® for Sales Operations Team of the Year in The 2013 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. As Chair of one of this year’s Final Judging Committees, he is fully aware of the benefits of being a winner.

“Winning the Stevie® Award really brought to light the effectiveness of the HomeAway team in their first year together,” Mike told us.  “It brought about an even greater appreciation for the experience, talent, and determination possessed by each individual. It was great to be rewarded for our hard work and, ultimately, the team had better camaraderie and became even more motivated to improve sales effectiveness.”

Added Mike: “Winning the Stevie® Award in 2013 showcased the HomeAway sales team’s focus on adding value to the organization through industry-leading tools and best practices.”

Creating Lasting Memories

We asked Mike what most inspired him about his role at HomeAway.  His simple answer: he gets his inspiration from the HomeAway team and product. “We have fantastic people who are passionate about their work,” he told us. “Ours is a product that helps families and groups find their ideal getaway and focus on the most important part of traveling together: creating lasting memories.”

About Mike Ortegon:

Mike Ortegon joined HomeAway in March 2012 and is the Director of Global Sales Operations. In this role he is responsible for supporting sales leaders across the globe with tools, training, and sales insights to help make well-informed business decisions; and to run effective and efficient teams while aligning to corporate strategy.

Previously, Mike worked for Harte-Hanks as Global Account Director focusing on multichannel, data-driven solutions for Fortune 100 companies. Throughout his career, Mike has been in management, operational, and sales and marketing roles in North America, EMEA, Latin America, and APAC.

About HomeAway:
HomeAway is the world’s leading online marketplace of vacation rentals, with sites representing more than 773,000 paid listings of vacation rental homes in 171 countries. Through HomeAway, owners and property managers offer an extensive selection of vacation homes that provide travelers with memorable experiences and benefits, including more room to relax and added privacy, for less than the cost of traditional hotel accommodations. The company also makes it easy for vacation rental owners and property managers to advertise their properties and manage bookings online.

Tags: customer service awards, stevie awards, business award, sales awards, contact center 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

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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