Values Decide Sales Success, Not Knowledge

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Sep 11, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Many studies show that sales success is not predicated on arming salespeople with product knowledge and basic selling skills; it’s based, instead, on the salesperson’s values, beliefs, and attitudes.

That’s what Stevie-winner Integrity Solutions, a highly sought-after sales training company, believes.

Integrity Solutions_2

Ron Willingham founded the company, which develops sales and customer service teams, in 1968.  He asserts that “selling success is more an issue of who you are than what you know. While knowledge is necessary, sustained success comes to the person who’s driven by strong values and ethics.”

He spent decades creating and improving a unique learning process that translates knowledge and skills into real-world behaviors.

Embrace Your Team

Integrity Solutions_logoIntegrity Solutions was at the forefront of the customer needs–focused selling philosophy, which was radical at the time.

If you’re interested in creating customer-centric, value-driven leaders and sales teams, Integrity Solutions offers the perfect example of how changing leadership habits and cultural values can drive success in your organization.

“This is a critical yet often overlooked differentiator for organizations,” says Will Milano, vice president of marketing at Integrity Solutions. “We believe that transitioning your sales culture to create greater transparency and working overtly in the customers' interests are no longer options; they’re mandatory.”

Integrity Solutions sees embracing sales coaching as the number one driver that allows sales leaders to reach the best results. A critical component, however, is effectively equipping the sales organization.

This involves ensuring you have the necessary skills and mind-set to meet aggressive growth goals. Managers need to coach and empower their people with product trainings and materials that are aligned with the sales messaging.

“Successful sales training is not simply a one-time 'event’, but a behavior change process that requires the involvement and sponsorship of senior leadership,” says Milano. “Ongoing reinforcement, sales manager coaching, and a focus on unlocking people's beliefs and attitudes about themselves are also integral.”

What Does Your Philosophy Say About Your Team?

Lots of seminars today sing the praises of ethics, values, and integrity in business, but those gems of wisdom don’t always translate into actual workplace success.

Integrity Solutions operates according to their core values. If you’re interested in developing your team’s selling skills, compare your values with the following:

  • Integrity: acting ethically at all times
  • Accountability: taking proactive responsibility for results
  • Excellence: performing at the highest level
  • Abundance: sharing the wealth of opportunity with others
  • Innovation: seeking new and better solutions to problems
  • Customer focus: keeping the customer at the center of the business

For Integrity Solutions, these guidelines have led to the development of first-in-class innovations, such as Integrity Selling®, Integrity Service, Integrity Coaching, and many others. Each solution is designed to impact not only skills but also attitudes, values, and achievement drive.

Do you agree? If sales success is largely based on the salesperson’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and motivation, as the track record of Integrity Solutions demonstrates, isn’t it worth asking if your team would benefit from these methods?

“While the sales training industry has been relatively flat for several years, Integrity Solutions has grown almost 37 percent over the past two years.”

Feel free to learn more about their services and methods to compare your organization’s strategies.

Integrity Solutions recently won two Stevie® Awards: a Silver for Sales Consulting Practice of the Year and a Bronze for Sales Training Practice of the Year, both in the category of Solution Provider, at the 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in Las Vegas.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

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

Stevie Awards Announce Finalists in 12th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Winners to Be Announced in Las Vegas on February 23

Finalists in the 12th Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, an international competition recognizing excellence in disciplines that are crucial to business success, were announced today.

SASCS 2017 pic 3.jpgA diverse group of organizations and individuals around the world are among those recognized in the customer service awards, contact center awards, business development awards and sales awards categories. Organizations with five or more finalist nominations include 60K Ltd. (Sofia, Bulgaria), Albridge (Pennington, NJ, USA), Allianz Global Assistance (Richmond, VA, USA), BlueCat Networks (Toronto, ON, Canada), Carbonite, Inc. (Lewiston, ME, USA), Dell Technologies (Bangalore, Karnataka, India and Round Rock, TX, USA), Delta Air Lines (Atlanta, GA, USA), Delta Defense (West Bend, WI, USA), Delta Vacations (Minot, ND, USA), Deutsche Post DHL (worldwide), Druva Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA, USA), eMoney Advisor, LLC (Radnor, PA, USA), FIS (Jacksonville, FL, USA), GNResound (Bloomington, MN, USA), GuideWell Connect (Jacksonville, FL, USA), HomeServe USA (Norwalk, CT, USA), IBM (Armonk, NY, USA and Tokyo, Japan), iHeartMedia, Inc. (New York, NY, USA), Imparta Inc. (Austin, TX, USA), John Hancock Financial Services (Boston, MA, USA) Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company (Springfield, MA, USA), Mercer Consumer, (Des Moines, IA, USA), NCR Corporation (Duluth, GA, USA), nThrive Education (Los Angeles, CA, USA), (Midvale, UT, USA), Response (Lindon, UT, USA), Sales Partnerships, Inc. (Broomfield, CO, USA), SmartLinx Solutions (Edison, NJ, USA), Sun Basket (San Jose, CA, USA), TTEC (Englewood, CO, USA), UPMC Health Plan (Pittsburgh, PA, USA), VakifBank (Istanbul, Turkey), VIZIO Inc. (Irvine, CA, USA), VXI Global Solutions (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Wells Fargo Treasury Management Client Delivery (San Francisco, CA, USA) and Wyndham Vacation Ownership (Orlando, FL, USA).

For a full list of finalists by category, visit

All finalist nominations ultimately will be named Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners. The placements will be revealed during a gala banquet on Friday, February 23, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Tickets are on sale now.

The awards are presented by the Stevie Awards, which organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious International Business Awards® and American Business Awards.

More than 2,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. Finalists were determined by the average scores of more than 150 professionals worldwide in seven specialized judging committees. Entries were considered in 89 categories for customer service and contact center achievements, including Contact Center of the Year, Award for Innovation in Customer Service and Customer Service Department of the Year; 60 categories for sales and business development achievements, ranging from Senior Sales Executive of the Year to Sales Training or Business Development Executive of the Year to Sales Department of the Year; and categories to recognize new products and services and solution providers.

Beginning today through February 9, the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service in the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service. Voting is open at Winners of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards in multiple industries will be determined in mid-February and honored at the awards gala in Las Vegas on February 23.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, customer service leader of the year, customer service success, sales training

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.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, sales training, sales coaching