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

23 Ways to LEAD the Future

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, May 09, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

When a company launches 23 newly engineered and redesigned e-STUDIO multifunction printers before the annual dealer meeting even kicks off, you'll likely turn a lot of heads.

Such was the case with Toshiba, when they won the Gold Stevie Award for 'Best Sales Meeting of the Year'  in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, in recognition of its 2016 LEAD (Learn Engage Act Deliver) conference.

The LEAD conference included record attendance and stylish new machines that bolstered technology, customization, and training for attendees to try out.

Connect, Integrate, Simplify

LEAD2016_logo_FINAL_V3_2.jpgJoe Contreras, Global Marketing Executive at Toshiba, revealed that the machines represented a value statement that could be summed up in three words: connect, integrate, and simplify.

“The machines don’t just connect to the network, they can connect customers with their businesses and workflows...to become an integral part of a customer’s business, and they can simplify tasks and operations.”

Politics and Party Tricks

Toshiba made sure to pull out all the stops for LEAD. In addition to hosting LEAD at one of the more luxurious properties on the Las Vegas Strip, graffiti artist business guru Erik Wahl was the featured evening keynote speaker to close LEAD’s first day. Toshiba’s second day lineup featured a variety of entertainment, including keynote speakers James Carville and Mary Matalin (who gave the now classic quote “If you have ADHD, are over 30, and like a glass of wine - you probably shouldn’t have a Twitter account”.) Closing-night entertainers, The B-52s, with such hits as “Rock Lobster,” “Party Out of Bounds,” and, of course, “Love Shack.”

Surpassing Expectations

In addition to the large Toshiba booth, their floor space had been doubled to complement the exhibit hall that featured 60 companies from across the industry looking to do business with Toshiba’s dealer community.

"LEAD 2016 was a definitive success from every perspective and surpassed expectations," said Bill Melo, Toshiba America Business Solutions chief marketing executive. "Our new products were met with enthusiasm from every segment of our diverse audience and are generating new business for our resellers, business partners and Toshiba."

Interested in applying for the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? Request the entry kit and it will be emailed to you in July when nominations are accepted.

Tags: sales meeting of the year, technology awards, sales awards, best sales meeting

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

Becoming a Stevie Award-Winning Sales Leader

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 10:55 AM

Insights from a Gold Stevie ® Winner at Lennox Industries, Inc.

We wanted to learn a bit more on how Rich Ford, the Sales Director for Lennox Industries in Richardson, Texas  grew to win the Gold Stevie® for Sales Director of the Year in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. So, we reached out to the Lennox Industries team and got a few different perspectives. Quan Nguyen,  the VP of Marketing helped us coordinate the conversation and expressed, “We are very excited and proud of Rich.“ Quan pulled in Gary Bedard, the Vice President and General Manager of Lennox Industries as well as the winner himself, Rich Ford.

The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service is accepting nominations through January 11. REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

To get started we asked Gary to give us a bit of background on what solutions Lennox provides.

Lennox Industries is a leading manufacturer and distributor of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and products for residential and commercial markets. We have leveraged our expertise to become an industry leader known for innovation, quality and reliability,” said Gary.

Lennox 1.jpgGary also shared the Vision behind Lennox.Within the home comfort industry, we want to leverage our one step distribution model to provide our professional contractors with the most innovative and highest quality products and services for them to best serve our end customers.” Bedard continued, “Our core values of integrity, respect, and excellence has built a culture of performance and accountability to execute on our vision.”

When asked about the story behind the nomination, Gary got excited. “We have an outstanding team of sales professionals, a group honored by the Stevies for the Best Field Sales Force!  Within that team, we have a leader of leaders and that was Rich Ford. He’s elevated himself in both action and performance to become a complete sales professional. The three year sales performance and growth we’ve seen out of the Western Region is simply incredible for this industry. His leadership has been instrumental in our results. He continually coaches and mentors his team and his peers. He is a thoughtful advisor to the entire management team. He consistently finds innovative solutions to customer challenges and he maintains the highest levels of standards and integrity. When we saw this award category, we were absolutely delighted to nominate Rich. His contributions have been tremendous and he really embodies all of our values of integrity, respect, and excellence.”

Gary provided interesting background on how Lennox first became acquainted with the Stevie® Awards . “We had started undergoing a transformation in 2010. Coming out of the recession in 2012, we started winning. Not just growing,  but winning by taking market share!  It was largely driven by transformational changes in our sales team and supply chain logistics. I understood that the efforts and success we were making were not just industry leading but world class so we sought to compete on a global level. We came upon the Stevie Awards that way and that’s been one of our inspirations ever since.  And we still continue to win in the market.”

Enter Rich Ford himself who described the actual experience of winning the award. Rich began with,

“When you win something you’re not expecting, or even know you’re being considered, it’s a very humbling experience. We have some amazing leaders in our organization – others deserving of the award and recognition. Then, to find out the organization recognized me as their nominee, made me happy to be a part of the team; the organization as well as our industry.”

We were interested in learninghow the award has affected RIch’s business to which Mr. Ford replied, “I can’t say that the award has affected my business dealings. I’m not a better director or leader as a result of the award. I still strive to contribute to a culture of excellence in everything we do. I still try to bring the highest level of service to our customers and to be a champion and advocate for my team. I’m probably more acutely aware of my day to day interactions and will strive to live up to the expectations that come with the recognition.”

Rich also shared his insights on the future of his industry,The key drivers in our industry have always been regulatory. Either the environmental impact at the federal level or on the local level with utility companies. I find it interesting that the regulations can have a greater impact on our industry going forward beyond the typical SEER/EER ratings standards. Secondary regulations in local markets could impact the way our product is installed. And, as an applied product, this could have either a negative impact or change fundamentally how our product is designed and distributed in the future. Closely watching the actions of our competitors as well as different channels (Residential New Construction for example) will keep it interesting and require staying diligent in our own innovative development of products going forward.”

Rich showed his mettle with some inspiration we can all appreciate, “As I think about where I started professionally and where I ultimately wound up – it’s definitely not a straight line. Often times, Sales Leaders start in sales and through consecutive successes over their careers become who they are – Sales Leaders. I started with Lennox, as an IT Specialist. My background had been technology focused and it was through technology I joined Lennox. It wasn’t long before I noticed a culture of sales excellence within the company through working with the Sales Managers.

It became my purpose and goal to become a Sales Director before I had my first sales position. It was not a clear road.  It took three attempts before I was finally given the opportunity to join the sales team as a Territory Manager. With each rejection I worked harder to get better. I looked for opportunities for improvement by spending time with those who were great in the role to which I wanted to rise. From Territory Manager to District Manager – I learned from great DMs.  From DM to director – I listened to and spoke with great sales directors.  

I’m not a ‘natural salesperson’ as many believe is true for most salespeople. My point is – regardless of your dream – be it a sales leader, a great IT professional or even a great parent – don’t quit getting better at what you want to do. More importantly, find others who do it great and do what they do.”

Lennox 2.jpg

Shown from left to right: Mark Yonai winner of the Stevie Gold for Best Use of Technology, Leigh Ann Vernon winner of the Stevie Gold for Best Sales Meeting, Rich Ford winner of the Stevie Gold for Sales Director, Bill Carlson winner of the Stevie Gold for Business Development.

You can learn more about Lennox Industries at http://www.lennox.com/

Tags: sales team, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, Customer Service

Featuring the Gold Stevie® Award Winner for Sales Distinction of The Year - Financial Services, WePay

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 01:44 PM

An interview with Evelyn Hsia, Director, Sales Operations at WePay

WePay won a Gold Stevie Award in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in the Sales Distinction of the Year - Financial Services category.  The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world's premier awards for sales, customer service, contact center, and business developement professionals. Interested in applying for the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? The final entry deadline is January 11.

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

What does WePay do?
WePay helps platform businesses deliver seamless and integrated payments services. It processes billions annually for online platforms including Constant Contact, FreshBooks, GoFundMe, Meetup, and Zoho. WePay protects our partners from risk and regulatory exposure while supporting seamless payments experiences for their end-users.

WE pay 1.jpgWhat is your role in the organization?
I'm responsible for Sales operations at WePay. My vision for my team is to be a strategic partner to Sales and an enabler of the Sales organization's success. Everything we do makes other's work easier, more efficient and highly effective. We do all of this in order to close more deals, retain loyal customers and drive quality revenue for the company.

What is the organizational vision?

WePay's vision is to help the platform economy understand, value and realize the impact of integrated payments to fuel their customers' growth and change lives. We are their trusted advisor to guide them through their payments journey and we provide them with industry leading customer service and fraud risk protection that is unmatched in the industry.

What sets your company apart in this category?

WePay is a trusted partner for making payments seamless, simple and safe.  We create a frictionless payments experience secured by our industry-leading risk technology. Furthermore, WePay provides one of the industry's best customer service offering which has been valued highly by our customers and partners and is one of the reasons why our customer retention is extremely high.


How did you first become acquainted with the Stevies?
I learned about the Stevie awards when I was at Cisco. During that time, some of the best vendors I worked with had won Stevie awards. The organization I was part of, Cisco's Global Virtual Sales Organization (a team of 1800 remote sales and engineering resources) was the fastest growing sales team in the company with many industry-leading innovations and best practices. So, I submitted them for the Stevie Awards and they have since won every year.


What was it like for WePay to win this award?

The award is a testament to the value that WePay's customer service organization offers day in and day out. The award validates why our customers and partners consistently stay with us and even come back to us despite the many other options available. It also solidified the work that WePay had done the previous year to turn the Sales organization around and the resulting impact it has had on the business.

How has the win affected the business?
The Stevie Award is among several other awards that WePay has won over the past year. It is one more validation to our new hires that this is a great company to work for, that our customer service team stands above our competition and that we have a great Sales & Marketing organization that is making a difference for the company. It is also one more proof point to our customers and partners that WePay is a solid company that they can rely on.

What results have been gained since you've won this award?
From Stevie award trophies lining our lobby walls to press releases recognizing our achievements - they certainly enhance our brand as a credible and award-winning company.

What inspires you to continue your work?

Our Sales and Marketing organization is always looking for ways to enhance the business of our partners through our payments solution. We are continuously evolving to become the best in our class. It's an exciting journey to be at the forefront of helping our company achieve its goal of being the number one payments partner to platform companies.

We are always looking for ways to become bigger, better and faster. We expect to continue to innovate and improve what we do and how we do things so that we can enhance the lives of our customers and partners.

Click here to learn more about WePay

We Pay pic #2.jpg

(WePay's Sales and Marketing team giving back at Second Harvest Food Bank)

 

Tags: sales awards, sales team awards, Sales, sales distinction awards, best sales team

Sales Distinction Awards Opportunities for Your Organization

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 @ 01:59 PM

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service recognize the achievements of contact center, customer service, business development and sales professionals worldwide. Entries for the 2017 competition are now being accepted.

October 19 is the early-bird entry deadline with discounted entry fees. The entry deadline is November 16, but late entries will be accepted through January 11 with payment of a late fee. Winners of the eleventh annual competition will be announced at a gala awards banquet on February 24 at Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas.

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

Today we will highlight we the Sales Distinction Awards categories.

SASCS_women_2016.jpgRather than focus on the performance of a named sales department, these categories recognize sales-related achievements across your entire company or organization. You choose the successes you wish to highlight. They can be related to revenue growth, customer acquisition, lead development, training, enculturation of product knowledge, etc.

Information required for entries in these categories include:
(a) An essay of up to 650 words describing your organization's sales-related accomplishments since July 1, 2015.

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

Winners of the Sales Distinction Awards in 2016 include:

Sales Distinction of the Year - Computer Services 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
SoftPro, Raleigh, NC USA: SoftPro Shatters 2015 Sales Goals
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
Oildex, Denver, CO USA: Oildex: A David vs. Goliath Deal
BRONZE STEVIE WINNER:
Yesware, Boston, MA USA: Yesware - Ahead of the Pack in Sales Software

Sales Distinction of the Year - Distribution & Transportation 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
DHL Express, Beirut, Lebanon: DHL Service Point Team, in Beirut Central District
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
DHL Express, Arnhem, The Netherlands: DHL Express NL Spotdesk
BRONZE STEVIE WINNER:
DHL Express - Saudi Arabia, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia: DHL Express - Saudi Arabia - A Journey from Good to Great

Sales Distinction of the Year - Financial Services 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
WePay Inc, Redwood City, CA USA: WePay's Amazing Sales Achievements
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
HealthEquity, Draper, UT USA: HealthEquity
BRONZE STEVIE WINNER:
Elephant Insurance, Richmond, VA USA: Elephant's Sales Department: Growing, Growing, Growing!

Sales Distinction of the Year - Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Related Industries 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
GuideWell Connect, Jacksonville, FL USA: High Performers Rise to the Occasion
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
GuideWell Connect, Jacksonville, FL USA: ‘MOR' assures Guidewell Connect is not 'Middle of the Road'
BRONZE STEVIE WINNER:
GuideWell Connect, Jacksonville, FL USA: Time for a Do Over

Sales Distinction of the Year - Telecommunications 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Vodafone Turkey, Istanbul, Turkey: Vodafone Turkey's 'Pusula'
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
Sales Partnerships, Inc., Westminster, CO USA: Internet leader shines with SPI

Sales Distinction of the Year - All Other Industries 
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Sales Partnerships, Inc., Westminster, CO USA: Cutting Edge Blue Collar Sales
SILVER STEVIE WINNER:
Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Orlando, FL USA: Marriott Vacation Club - Sales Center Technology - Dynamic Customization and Personalization
BRONZE STEVIE WINNER:
Campaigner Email Marketing, Woburn, MA USA: Campaigner Email Marketing's Distinctive Sales Achievements

Tags: sales awards, best sales practices, sales distinction awards, sales and customer service awards

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

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