The Stevie Awards Blog

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

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

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

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

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

What does ValueSelling do?

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

What is the organizational vision?

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

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

What sets your company apart in your industry?

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

How did you first become acquainted with the Stevies?

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

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

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

What inspires you to continue your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: customer service awards, best sales department, sales team, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, best sales practices, sales leader

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/

Topics: sales team, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service