Sales Awards Blog

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

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

5 Ways to Prevent Deals from Stalling, From a Stevie Awards Sponsor Provider

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:55 AM

Scott Anschuetz, founder of sales and marketing consultancy Visualize, a leading provider of the ValueSelling Framework®, shares his tips for ensuring smooth business deals. (ValueSelling is a sponsor 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. All organizations and individuals worldwide are eligible to submit entries for sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. January 15, 2013 is the last day that late entries will be accepted; request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

Scott Anschuetz, Founder of VisualizeWith some reps seeing as much as 40% of their revenue coming in during the last quarter of the year, the recent ValueSelling webinar on keeping deals from stalling was especially timely. For those not able to take part, following are the top 5 situations that can cause a deal to stall or slip, and how to prevent them: 

1. No Business Issue: Lack of a connection to the critical business issue of a key stakeholder
It’s essential to uncover what a key stakeholder needs to address to achieve his or her business objectives. These business issues can usually be found in a variety of sources: websites; operating statements; financial analyst perspectives; peer comparisons; and by talking with individuals inside the company. Thorough research should confirm your understanding of a key stakeholder’s business issues.

There are some questions you can ask to uncover a key stakeholder’s business issues and objectives, including:

  1. “Our research indicates that X appears to be a critical objective for the company. Do we understand this correctly?”


  2. “How does this align with the key objectives with which you have been tasked?”

The question you SHOULD NOT ask is: “What is the #1 thing by which you are being measured?” Because that is ultimately what you are trying to discover.

Although it may take multiple conversations and lines of questioning to refine, it is extremely important to uncover your key stakeholders’ business issues early and to confirm them often. 

2. No “D” in VisionMatch Differentiated: Not being uniquely positioned to address a key stakeholder’s needs
You need to deliver a Differentiated VisionMatch. In other words, you need to uncover problems that only you are qualified to address—and that your prospect may not have thought of—and position yourself as the one-and-only solution provider.

3. No Personal Value: Failing to align with the key stakeholder’s personal value
It is critical that you get alignment with your key stakeholder and understand the power person’s motivations.  Examples of personal value for them could include a promotion, a bonus, increased credibility, or any other kind of recognition.

After you’ve developed an appropriate level of comfort, trust, and rapport with that power person, following are examples of questions you could ask to uncover their personal value:

  1. “What’s in it for you?”  (Open-ended question)
  2. “What kind of impact could this have on your career?” (Probing question)
  3. “Where does this sit on your priority list?” (Confirming question)

4. No Power: Selling below the decision level
The decision-making authority within a company or organization has perhaps moved up a couple of levels in recent years. Ideally, you want to gain and maintain access with the ultimate decision maker. You need to know which person that is: Be careful not to get so tied to any one contact within the organization that you can’t make a move without going through him or her.

5. No Mutual Plan: Not understanding the full sequence of events
Keep in mind that a signed contract is just a stepping-stone to future milestones. Confirm everything in writing, because every written message is another opportunity. Send a follow-up letter or email to your prospect confirming your understanding of the mutually agreed upon set of activities and milestones. We call this a mutual plan. It is a proactive approach to managing the sales cycle, being deliberate in understanding the prospect’s view of "When."

We all appreciate that a stall or a slip in the sales process is actually more expensive than an outright no, so it’s crucial to identify “no decision” situations early—and to be ready to do something about it.

About Scott Anschuetz:
With more than 25 years of direct sales, sales management, and leadership experience, Scott Anschuetz leads, coaches, and motivates sales forces. He combines an accomplished track record of achievement with real world practical applications in leading Visualize, the company he founded in 2002. Visualize trains over 6,000 sales and marketing professionals around the globe at corporations including: Avaya, Siemens, Mercury Interactive, newScale, Symbol,, VMware, Motorola, SuccessFactors, and TELUS. 

About Visualize:
is a leading provider of the ValueSelling Framework®.  Its team of certified associates enable companies to bridge the gap between sales and marketing while uncovering and applying value holistically, utilizing the ValueSelling methodology that’s intuitive, sustainable and proven. Clients turn to the experts at Visualize for consulting services, classroom training in sales and management, and e-learning, yielding immediate impact, repeatable strategies, and sustainable results.

About ValueSelling:
Since 1991, ValueSelling Associates has helped FORTUNE 1000 business-to-business sales organizations around the world compete and win. Generating revenue is the goal of all sales organizations. To do that, sales teams need the right tools, skills, and processes to succeed. ValueSelling Associates has maintained its position as a leader in the industry for nearly 20 years by continually evolving to meet the new challenges sales forces face.

Tags: customer service awards, business awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, contact center awards, valueselling, Visualize, Scott Anschuetz

New Product Categories in the Customer Service & Sales Awards

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Nov 01, 2010 @ 05:18 PM

One of the big changes/additions to the Stevie Awards this year is in our 5th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  In the past this program honored only the achievements of sales, customer service, and call center professionals: individuals, teams, and entire departments.

For the 2011 aSASCS10 Awards Presentationwards (entries are being accepted now through the end of 2010), we've added a slew of new product awards categories in the SASCS.  We now have new product of the year categories as follows (the numbers are our internal categories codes):


90. Collaboration Solution – New
91. Collaboration Solution– New Version
92. Contact Center Solution – New
93. Contact Center Solution – New Version
94. IVR or Web Service Solution – New
95. IVR or Web Service Solution – New Version
96. Marketing Solution – New
97. Marketing Solution – New Version
98. Relationship Management Solution – New
99. Relationship Management Solution – New Version
100. Workforce Management Solution – New
101. Workforce Management Solution – New Version

Read the rest of this article...

Tags: sales excellence, customer service awards, business awards, sales awards, valueselling, sales award, customer service award

Update on 2011 Sales & Customer Service Awards

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Nov 01, 2010 @ 04:39 PM

I'm getting very excited about our next edition - the 5th - of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's premier program of sales awards, customer service awards, and call center awards

Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service PresentationWe had the early-bird deadline a few weeks back and entries submitted through that deadline were up about 25% from last year.  We have another deadline on November 12, and then we'll continue to accept late entries through the end of the year.  (The late penalty is just $35 per entry.)  If you don't have your entry kit yet, get it here.

I wrote the other week about all the new categories we have in the competition this year - check them out on the awards' web site.

Finalists will be announced in mid-January, and the program will culminate with an awards presentation and banquet at the lovely Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida on Monday, February 21.  Some people have asked why we would schedule the event on a holiday (it will be President's Day in the U.S.A.), and we did that so that attendees can make a long weekend of it in the sun and surf of Miami Beach, without having to miss full day in the office!

Today I'd like to welcome ValueSelling Associates back as a sponsor of the 2011 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  ValueSelling president Julie Thomas is a long-time support of the Stevie Awards, and we're delighted to have them back.  

From their web site: "ValueSelling Associates is the creator of the ValueSelling Framework, the sales methodology practiced by sales executives at FORTUNE 1000 companies around the globe. Through customized classroom instruction, e-learning, train-the-trainer and consulting, ValueSelling will arm your sales force with strategies, skills, tools and processes to:

  • Increase revenue
  • Access and dialogue with executive decision-makers
  • Increase forecast accuracy
  • Eliminate discounting
  • Increase deal size"

We have several sponsorship slots still available.  To learn more, get our 2011 sponsorship guide.

Tags: sales excellence, customer service awards, business awards, sales awards, valueselling, sales award, customer service award