Colorado's 25 Most Powerful Salespeople
Their importance can’t be overstated, yet outside their profession they can be overlooked. Simply put, the people profiled are responsible for delivering their companies’ products and services from warehouse shelves and computer files into the hands of customers. They are the driving force in their companies’ quest for growth and sustainability, and it’s no stretch to say that collectively they play a critical role in the health of the economy.
This is our fifth year of recognizing Colorado’s Most Powerful Salespeople. We initiated it back in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, as we discussed what a recovery would entail and who would be at the forefront of leading us out of the doldrums. Clearly, we concluded, salespeople would be among those leaders. And they have been.
These 25 honorees were selected by ColoradoBiz magazine’s editorial board from more than 100 nominations submitted online at www.cobizmag.com. Sales productivity was one factor, obviously. But we also took into account qualities such as tenacity, obstacles surmounted, empathy for the consumer, product knowledge, and demonstrated passion for the product or service.
We hope you will find some inspiration and – if you’re in sales – some useful advice, in the profiles that follow.
-— Mike Taylor, ColoradoBiz editor
Andrea Rost, 50
Senior sports account executive,
850 KOA, Denver
WHAT SHE DOES: Rost designs creative marketing campaigns that air during KOA’s Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos radio broadcasts, including promotional and cause marketing tie-ins related to sports and other integrated marketing campaigns.
SALES PRODUCTION: Rost has consistently been among KOA’s top revenue-generating account executives the past six years despite challenges with clients’ decreased budgets.
MAKING IT HAPPEN: "While staff, budgets, creativity and resources can be in short supply when it comes to a creative marketing campaign, this has never stopped Andrea," says Clear Channel’s Kate Landeis, who nominated Rost for the Most Powerful Salespeople distinction. "She is the first person to figure out how to make something work when logistically it seems impossible."
SALES TIP: "Never forget that it is easier to keep an old client than find a new one," Rost says. "Always treat your clients the way you would want to be treated, and treat their business as if it is your own. Put a deal together that you would want to buy, one that meets their needs, and then don’t be afraid to ask for the buy."
HANDING A NO: "I think there are always clients who want to buy my product," Rost says. "KOA is a very effective medium for advertisers and is very easy to sell, truthfully. If I get a ‘no,’ I ask why and try to uncover the real reason they said no. Maybe I haven’t relayed something well enough or answered their concerns effectively. However, if I get a firm no, I don’t spend a lot of time trying to change their mind. I find that it makes more sense to spend my time with interested buyers. There are a lot of people out there who need what I am selling."
Bashir Bataille, 42
International sales manager, Geotech Environmental Equipment Inc., Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Develops international business for Geotech, a manufacturer of environmental equipment with two international offices and distribution in 72 countries. Bataille has specific business-development expertise in groundwater and soil applications with oil, mining, landfills and environmental consulting firms.
SALES PRODUCTION: In 2011, Bataille’s team increased international sales by 40 percent and was on track for a 39 percent increase in 2012. Fluent in Spanish as well as English, Bataille singlehandedly covers all of South America for Geotech, including Brazil, the fastest-growing economy in the world.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE: Even while traveling internationally, Bataille manages all his own orders including export requirements. A major oil and gas customer in Colombia once called believing it had received incorrect equipment, so despite dangers of guerillas and the remote location between two mountains, Bataille flew to the location to troubleshoot and properly deploy the equipment.
SALES TIP: "Just having the desire to sell is not enough," Bataille says. "We must know our products, understand the markets, laws and regulations, know our customer needs, have discipline and a touch of spontaneity mixed with creativity."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "Respect ourselves, our family, our country, our job and our customers. Keep our moral values always present and be disciplined."
HANDLING A NO: "Many times a ‘no’ is inevitable, but keep in mind that a ‘no’ now should later become a ‘yes,’" Bataille says. "Many times a ‘no’ represents the necessity of understanding our customer’s real needs."
Bob Belkowski, 33
Senior account manager, J-W Power Co., Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Sells J-W Power Co.’s natural-gas compression equipment and services direct to Denver-based clients with operations throughout the entire Rocky Mountain region. He also is responsible for managing logistics of equipment as well as designing compression equipment. In addition, he provides regulatory guidance for customers.
SALES PRODUCTION: Quarterly revenues for Belkowski’s area of responsibility have increased 59 percent in the past 18 months. His "active unit count" (denoting units of leased packages in operation) for his area of responsibility has increased 257 percent over the past three years.
LEADERSHIP: Belkowski is the youngest-ever president of the Rocky Mountain Gas Processors Association, earning the position for 2013. He earned an MBA from the University of Colorado Denver in 2010 while working full-time.
Sales advice: "Have an ‘objective’ with every client interaction, conversation or meeting. Some objectives are as simple as getting to know someone, while others are more challenging like identifying a decision maker or overcoming rejection. Each objective is a step forward in the selling process toward ultimately closing the deal. I highly recommend using a sales reference book to overcome obstacles in the selling process; my personal favorite is ‘The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness,’ by Jeffery Gitomer."
Sales philosophy: "Focus on creating long-term customer relationships as well as providing technical substance for clients. The oil and gas industry is very technical with highly educated people. Therefore I work extremely hard to provide my clients with information they do not already possess."
Christian Bienvenu, 39
Senior vice president, UMB Commercial Banking, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Bienvenu is responsible for cultivating prospective commercial client relationships and managing existing client relationships. He also actively participates in the innovation of products and enhancement of service strategies.
SALES PRODUCTION: During 2011 and 2012, Bienvenu generated a half billion dollars in loan commitments and added a record number of new client relationships. "We’ve posted 10 consecutive quarters of loan growth, and Christian is the top producing commercial sales person for our $14 billion financial-services company," says UMB’s Jon Robinson, who nominated Bienvenu for this award.
Sales philosophy: "I spend a lot of time with my clients and prospects in order to understand them on a deeper level than just business," Bienvenu says. "I build strong relationships that go beyond the average banker/client rapport; we become collaborative business partners. As these relationships strengthen, my clients often refer me to prospective customers, and my network exponentially grows."
HANDLING A NO: "I look at every ‘no’ as a ‘no, for now,’" Bienvenu says. "I don’t get discouraged by hearing a ‘no’ from a prospect because I understand that I will have another chance to work with them."
GOING THE EXTRA MILE: "Being available to his customers and prospects all day, every day, is what sets Christian apart from the competition," Robinson says. "At the height of the financial crisis, he worked seven days a week for months, often logging 18 hours a day. I believe that during this time when everything in the financial industry was in an extremely tumultuous state and businesses were facing massive uncertainty, he was there for his customers and prospects."
David Bangs, 47
senior vice president of worldwide sales, NexGen Storage, Louisville
WHAT HE DOES: Oversees all sales functions for NexGen Storage. That includes recruiting, retaining and motivating top salespeople for his organization.
BACKGROUND: Bangs previously built and led the sales team for LeftHand Networks, a Boulder-based storage software company that grew from $10 million in annual sales to more than $100 million in less than four years before it was acquired by HP in 2008. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in business (with honors) from South Bank University in London.
PRAISE FROM THE FIELD: "As a venture capitalist over the last 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of VPs of sales, and David is one of the best and brightest I’ve ever worked with," says Kirk Holland, who nominated Bangs for this award. "He’s excellent at evangelizing and getting new and disruptive products launched to create new markets. He’s also a very clear communicator who tells the team, the board and the investors what reality is. He does not SELL his board members; he’s a straight shooter who gives the good with the bad."
Sales advice: "Stay close to prospects and customers alike," Bangs says. "Never be afraid to deliver bad news when you have to, or ask for the order when you need to. Many of our strongest and longest customer relationships and largest revenue wins have come from accounts where we were totally honest, transparent and proactive in working through challenging issues together and earned the right to ask for more business afterwards."
Sales philosophy: "Any sales leader is only as good as the team he or she hires and develops. Focus on the A players more than you think you should. Deserve Victory."
David Mariea, 39
Senior vice president, commercial lending, Centennial Bank, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Mariea takes care of the banking needs of businesses and entrepreneurs. "The vast majority of my customers are privately owned businesses, and the individuals who own or run them," Mariea says. "I help the companies I work with achieve their goals by understanding their business and their needs in depth, and then help them utilize the financing tools that will best meet their needs."
SALES PRODUCTION: In his first year at Centennial Bank starting in late 2011, Mariea brought dozens of new business relationships to the bank, closing 39 new commercial loans. For that 12-month period ending in November 2012, he closed more than $22 million in committed loans and nearly $17 million in new fundings/outstanding loans.
BACKGROUND: Mariea’s 17-year banking career has been spent, for the most part, with community banks where he developed a passion for working with and finding solutions for small-business owners. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Denver.
SALES ADVICE: "Know your customer and believe in what you’re selling (only sell what you believe in.)"
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "If a transaction or a new relationship isn’t good for all parties involved, it shouldn’t be done. True success comes from building meaningful relationships and a strong reputation, so customers stick with you, give you all of their business, and recommend you to their friends. My approach is less about selling, and more about doing my best to really understand and take care of people, at which point the sales piece almost takes care of itself."
David Waugh, 40
National account manager, Confio Software, Boulder
WHAT HE DOES: Waugh is the top performing sales executive for Confio Software, a developer of database and virtualization performance software. In the past 7 ½ years, Waugh has led the company in revenue generation, hitting 25 out of 30 quarters on target and has been responsible for more than 38 percent of all revenue. His revenue production totaled $2.4 million in 2010, $3.1 million in 2011 and a projected $4.7 million in 2012 (330 percent of the target.)
FREQUENT FLIER: In the course of business last year, Waugh logged 75,000 miles on United Airlines and spent nearly 100 hotel nights on the road.
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "Patience, persistence and passion. All great salespeople I know have patience. Patience with their company, management, co-workers and of course, their customers. However, those same salespeople also are persistent. The customer will recognize persistence and appreciate your efforts as long as you are not pushy and your persistence has meaning and brings value to them. Don’t just be persistent by calling and continually asking the customer for the order, but provide value and industry knowledge to your client that will help them with their job. And above all else, passion. Passion for what you do! Passion for what you sell! Passion for the customers’ success! Customers will recognize passion and be drawn to your enthusiasm about the products and services and want to do business with you."
SALES ADVICE: "Don’t be afraid to walk away from a sale. Your time is too valuable as a sales professional. Don’t waste your time or the customer’s time if you know the answer is going to be ‘no’ or not lead to revenue. There are plenty of other opportunities out there!"
Derek Youmans, 25
Sales consultant, AT&T Mobility, Boulder
WHAT HE DOES: Sells all products and services offered by AT&T Mobility and handles all administrative aspects of the sale including: completing customer contracts and warranties, pulling products from inventory, accepting customer payments and filling the completed orders.
SALES PRODUCTION: Has consistently ranked in the top 10 percent nationally, generating $150,000 to $200,000 of revenue per month for AT&T.
BACKGROUND: Youmans started with AT&T 5 ½ years ago in Tennessee at age 19 before relocating with the company to Colorado. He has won multiple Summit awards, the company’s national sales award given to top consultants in all regions.
SALES TIP: "Dress and groom yourself exactly as you want to be perceived," Youmans says. "As a salesperson your image creates an impression that influences all aspects of your customer interaction. If you want to sound smarter, seem more trustworthy, be perceived more credibly, then let your dress and grooming represent those things."
WORDS OF WISDOM: "Talent is a myth. Effort is what makes salespeople successful," Youmans says. "In business, sports, life and the profession of selling, talent matters much less than effort applied to the mastery of the skills that lead to success. Because effort is a choice, we all can be successful in sales."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "I treat people how I would want to be treated. I use my client’s or customer’s name throughout the interaction to create a very personal experience with the client. Eye contact and being well-spoken helps. Always asking for the sale is a meaningful tool also. It doesn’t have to be rude or pushy but done in the right context can change everything. You always have the right to ask for the sale."
C. Douglas Wulf, 50
Senior vice president, Cassidy Turley Colorado, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: As a commercial real estate broker, Wulf represents both office tenants and owners of office buildings in the leasing, sale or acquisition of office space in Denver.
SALES PRODUCTION: Wulf has been the No. 1 producer seven of the past 10 years at Cassidy Turley Colorado (formerly Fuller Real Estate).
SALES ADVICE: "On the way up in getting to the ultimate decision maker at a firm, I always try to make sure I deal with everyone in an organization with the same level of attention, courtesy and respect," Wulf says. "With so many people competing for a decision maker’s attention these days, your chances of meeting and engaging with that person are far better if others at the front end of that process simply like you and are then willing to internally advocate for whatever you are trying to accomplish at their firm."
MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF WORK: "Working on a team with fellow brokers who all have the same drive and ambition to succeed at a high level while still having fun and plenty of laughs along the way. Being individually successful in sales is fine, but when I and my fellow broker team members win assignments and close transactions together with a concerted effort and defined roles, that is far more satisfying and enjoyable."
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: "The most challenging part of being a commercial real estate broker is being compensated on a 100 percent commission basis for your entire career. However, I cannot imagine starting on January 1 in a different sales role that has a defined ceiling and limited earning potential. The attractiveness of commercial real estate brokerage is that the effort, creativity and intellect you put in is generally directly proportional to your compensation level, and many jobs just don’t have that correlation."
Jennifer Chang, 32
Strategic account manager, Scientific Civilian Region, Cisco Systems, Centennial
SALES PRODUCTION: Chang finished the fiscal year 2011 at 195 percent of plan and brought in $14.9 million in revenue for fiscal year 2012. She was recognized as the Cisco FY12 Achiever Winner.
WHAT SHE DOES: Manages accounts for the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and NASA.
HIGH PRAISE: "She works hard to understand her customers’ environments and needs, and she patiently listens to her Cisco partners that work with her around the nation," said Ryan Clore, who works for a Cisco partner and nominated Chang for this award. "Even though she is on the road 70 percent of the time, she is one of the most responsive and thoughtful Cisco account managers I have ever encountered."
IMPORTANCE OF PATIENCE: "In the federal arena, deals can take months, and sometimes years, to move from request for information status to purchase-order status," Chang says. "If you’ve covered all your bases throughout the sales process, and architected a solution that meets your customer’s needs, then you have to trust in the work that you’ve done, and in the customer relationship that you have cultivated."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "I ultimately strive to become a trusted adviser to every one of my customers. This doesn’t happen overnight. But it certainly is a culmination of multiple interactions and conversations, where honesty is of paramount value. If a customer has a requirement in an area that Cisco doesn’t specialize in, we articulate that, and refer our customers to the appropriate vendor(s)."
ON DEDICATION: "Because my accounts are all over the nation, I’m never truly ‘off the clock.’ If getting the job done means staying up late and getting up early, I do it."
Joe Thurman, 28
Senior director of business development, Innovar Group, Greenwood Village
WHAT HE DOES: Specializes in developing and cultivating business relationships that ultimately produce sales for Innovar’s technology staffing services. Efforts are focused on supporting C-level, director and management-level IT professionals with a responsibility for hiring IT staff to support their respective organizations.
SALES PRODUCTION: Revenue for 2011 was $4.5 million and a projected $6 million in 2012.
BACKGROUND: Raised in Colorado Springs, Thurman was a star running back in high school where he earned the nickname, "Mighty Joe." Innovar co-owner Darryl Hoogstrate says that moniker remains apt. "Joe is focused, tenacious, diligent and a leader," Hoogstrate says.
SALES ADVICE: "I don’t put much stock in sales tips or tricks," Thurman says. "Rather, I feel personal and professional development is of utmost importance. While there are key skill sets such as negotiating and strategic planning one must develop as they advance in their sales career, I believe operating with best practices in life is the key to allowing a person to be the best at whatever they decide to do. I also believe that it is imperative to surround yourself with successful and driven people at work and in your personal life."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "Sales is much more than just closing a deal," Thurman says. "In every aspect of business or personal interaction we are selling our thoughts, strategies and capabilities. In some cases, the solution to a client’s problem may not be a service that I offer. However, I can help them connect the dots and continue to move their organization forward. The biggest deals come from trusted relationships that you have built and invested in over the years."
John Genell, 52
Business development executive, Grant Thornton, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Finds new deals and grows accounts for his firm while helping everyone else become better salespeople.
SALES PRODUCTION: Genell’s sales have increased every year since he joined Grant Thornton more than four years ago, including a 138 percent increase in 2012 from 2011. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, he was a top-five performer among Grant Thornton business development executives, contributing to 33 percent of total office revenue. In 2011 he was the third-highest performer for Grant Thornton nationally out of the firm’s 57 U.S. offices.
SALES ADVICE: "Most people are afraid of the word ‘sales,’" Genell says. "They think it means cold calling potential customers, and they’re afraid of getting rejected or not knowing what to say. The truth is, everyone in an organization plays a role in the sales process whether they realize it or not. Everyone from the administrative staff to the client service team must execute their jobs to the best of their ability. When everyone does that, sales happen much more easily and each person understands their contribution to the process."
ON CLOSING: "If you want a deal bad enough, never stop going after it until the client tells you that the deal is lost," Genell says. "Even then, keep trying until the winner actually has a contract signed with the client. We were just awarded a substantial global contract with a client in the Denver office that took more than five months to close. At two different times during the sales process we were told that we were eliminated from the field of potential accounting firms. Our team never gave up wanting the deal because we believed we were the best firm for this client."
John Roelke, 44
Vice president of sales and marketing, Continental Sausage, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Primarily responsible for all sales generation. Sales activities include food events, demos at retail partner locations, tours, tastings, sales calls, follow ups, and anything else customer related.
SALES PRODUCTION: Prior to Roelke’s arrival 2 ½ years ago, sales at Continental Sausage were growing at a steady 9 percent annually. Under his sales leadership, the growth rate has more than doubled to more than 19 percent annually at a time when sales at most meat companies are declining or flat. Year-end sales for 2012 were $3.6 million, representing an increase of 41 percent since Roelke’s arrival.
HIGH PRAISE: "John conducts factory tours several times per week with potential customers, chefs, chef’s associations, school groups, etc. And after almost every tour, our visitors mention how incredibly passionate he is about everything we do," says Eric Gutknecht, co-owner of the second-generation family business. "They always ask if he is one of the owners or what stake he has in the business, because they are blown away by his exuberance and knowledge."
SALES TIP: "Do your homework on your business," Roelke says. "Not only know your product, but know your company, your services and have confidence in all. When introducing prospective customers to Continental, I try to give them not only samples of our wonderful products and tell them about the high-end aspect of them, but I try to give them a connection to our history, and the passion we have for our business. To me, our story is an extremely important part of what we do and how we do it. I want the customer to feel involved in that story and knowledgeable with what we are doing."
Karl Heidgen, 46
Vice president, custom sales, Pactimo LLC, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Oversees and manages the entire sales teams in the U.S., United Kingdom and Europe and manages day-to-day operations of the custom division of Pactimo.
SALES PRODUCTION: Beginning with a sales base of $1.9 million in 2007, Heidgen’s annual percentage sales growth year-over-year since then has been 38 percent in 2008; 17 percent in 2009; 14 percent in 2010; and 22 percent in 2011. His sales for 2011 were $4.2 million, up 123 percent in the four-year period from 2007 to 2011.
KEY POINTS: Heidgen has led the sales team for the past seven years, during which Pactimo has experienced double-digit growth year-over-year and named to the INC 5000 fastest-growing companies list for three of those years.
THE PACTIMO STORY: Pactimo started in a basement about 10 years ago and today is known for some of the most innovative custom technical cycling, triathlon and running apparel in the industry.
SALES TIP: "Listen before you talk … which can be difficult for many salespeople," Heidgen says. "Find out your potential customers’ needs and make sure you and your products can offer them a solution BEFORE you try to sell them. Sales is relationships, so the conversation must go both ways."
HANDLING A ‘NO’: "No is only acceptable when dealing with your CFO, and even then you should look for a solution," Heidgen says. "Always be humble and maintain a good rapport no matter what the customer’s response may be. Things may change quickly, and your professional reply to a ‘no’ may earn you the same business you have been chasing."
Kira McManus, 47
Director of channel sales and business development, FORTRUST, Denver
WHAT SHE DOES: Responsible for building relationships with organizations influencing premium data center requirements/colocation nationally and internationally.
SALES PRODUCTION: McManus was named employee of the year in 1995 for Nextel Communications and was the top sales performer nationally for four straight years with OneComm/Cencall Nextel. She has been responsible for more than $20 million in revenues for FORTRUST Data Center during her six years there.
LEADERSHIP: McManus currently serves as vice president of the Board of Directors for the Communications Technology Professionals of Colorado.
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "I set my intent to enter every sales opportunity focused on building the relationship with the potential customer in an altruistic fashion," McManus says. "I see so many salespeople entering the sale or a partner relationship, asking ‘What can my customer do for me?’ rather than what can I GIVE to them. When you enter any relationship in life with friends, partners, etc., with an attitude of ‘What can I do to help this person?’ I believe the energy that comes back is three-fold."
SUCCESS SECRET: "I am a connector. I connect people with others so that they may create new relationships that grow our ever-connected business/social web. I continue to foster those new connections with great care. In fact, people call me for jobs and although I am not a recruiter, I know I am helping people find great careers leveraging wonderful relationships I have fostered through the years. As a result of that effort, I have built friendships for life. Being there when someone is at the top of their game is easy. Being a friend to them when they really need help is real."
Leo Salvaggio, 35
Vice president of sales, Dynamic Solutions International, Englewood
WHAT HE DOES: Salvaggio is responsible for the optimal deployment of sales personnel including assigning sales-team quotas, making recommendations for changing sales roles, coverage models or team configurations to maximize sales productivity.
SALES PRODUCTION: Salvaggio closed roughly $4 million in sales of DSI’s suite of traditional tape and Virtual Tape Library systems in 2012, representing a 25 percent increase over 2011. His clients include Rolls Royce, Ford Motor Co., the State of Michigan, Comerica Bank and Fiserv.
BACKGROUND: Salvaggio’s grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s and settled in Detroit where he raised three sons (including Leo’s father) and started his own construction firm despite limited ability to read and write. Leo was the first in the family to go to college.
SAILING THE EXTRA MILE: Salvaggio once booked a Caribbean cruise to secure a "chance encounter" with a CIO he’d been trying to track down for months. During an informal meet-and-greet at a midnight buffet on the ship, Salvaggio was able to set a formal meeting and finalized the sale a few weeks later.
SALES ADVICE: "Always operate with absolute integrity with everything that you do. It’s easier to do the right thing the first time around rather than after the fact."
SALES PHILOSOPOHY: "Sales is all about listening and solving your customers’ problems," Salvaggio says. "It doesn’t matter how great your slides are or how amazing your product is; it’s about solving your customers’ problems and filling a need. It’s that simple."
Mark Steller, 46
Business development, Catamount Constructors Inc., Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Develops new business by opening doors and creating a comfort level and affinity for Catamount Constructors. Project types include apartments, retail development, senior living and restaurants.
SALES PRODUCTION: Steller’s efforts translated to roughly $70 million of Catamount’s volume in 2012, and roughly $80 million in contracted or committed future work.
BACKGROUND: In addition to his bachelor’s degree in construction management, Steller has a master’s degree in counseling. He spent most of his career on the operations side – preconstruction and project management – allowing him to engage in in-depth conversations with prospective clients.
SALES ADVICE: "Seek the prospective client’s candid unpacking of their vision, their perceived challenges, their concerns," Steller advises. "This leads to a larger sense of what is needed and facilitates a sense of how what they’re looking for intersects with your capacity to assist."
ON CLOSING: "After discovering as much as possible, including listening extensively to the prospective client if given an opportunity, focus your proposal (preparation, development of materials, selection of a team) on what is uniquely needed. Prepare to a point that the interview could transition in terms of content to the next step."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "The best precursor to a potential business opportunity is a relationship facilitated naturally, without the 'pinch' of an agenda," Steller says. "This isn’t always possible, but it enables a conversational dynamic – which, when an opportunity does present, enables a more authentic discussion."
HANDLING A ‘NO’: "If interest is not reciprocated, keep the tone noble at your end. Don’t allow a single conversation to define the potential future course of the relationship."
Matt Brunner, 32
Corporate sales account executive and head of business development, Alphagraphics Fort Collins
WHAT HE DOES: Direct outside sales within the print, marketing and design industry. He oversees and/or manages more than 225 existing accounts while also cultivating new ones.
SALES PRODUCTION: Brunner was responsible for sales growth of more than 200 percent from 2009 to 2013. In the most recent fiscal year his sales revenue topped $1.3 million, representing 80 percent of AlphaGraphics Fort Collins’ total.
ACCOLADES: Brunner earned the top honor, "Master of Marketing" in 2009 from AlphaGraphics Worldwide Corp., which is awarded annually to only five of more than 600 salespersons worldwide.
SALES ADVICE: "I am religious about my daily and weekly calendar. Every Sunday I review my calendar for the coming week as a whole. Then, each morning I review it before my day starts. By reviewing and sticking to my calendar, I have been able to do a better job of staying on track with the things I need to do monthly, weekly and daily in order to be successful. Taking it even one step further, I have times blocked off each day for making cold calls, returning calls, etc. This has created a self-accountability system that is extremely helpful in keeping me on track with my goals."
HANDLING A ‘NO’: "I either treat it as a ‘yes’ in waiting, or as a great opportunity for me to start directing my efforts toward another new potential client. All I’m looking for is a chance, and once I have that I am confident that they will continue to use me and my company."
Michael Curtis, 55
Vice president, health-care business development, the Neenan Co., Fort Collins
WHAT HE DOES: In 26 years with Neenan, Curtis has sourced and led 40 successful design/build and real estate development deliveries of new and renovated hospitals, medical clinics and commercial build-to-suits, amounting to $320 million in transactions.
SALES PRODUCTION: In the last three years Curtis, who operates out of Denver, has sold 11 projects totaling more than $110 million. He has been Neenan’s highest-selling business-development person in the health-care market for more than five years.
PASSION FOR WORK: "My focus is rural hospitals and physician groups in the Western U.S.," Curtis says. "What drew me to it was that both physician groups and rural hospitals aren’t in the business of building facilities. They don’t know what they don’t know, and they look for guidance. I can bring about that guidance, and we have an impeccable reputation for delivering on our promises."
GREATEST SUCCESS: At Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte, Curtis learned of the hospital’s decline and recent tragedy of two young lives lost that were attributed to the facility’s antiquated state. Curtis became involved with the steps the hospital would need to take and requirements it would need to meet for a replacement facility. This led to Rio Grande becoming the nation’s first new critical-access hospital financed with HUD 242 mortgage insurance.
BACKGROUND: Curtis was living in Hawaii in 1986 and met David Neenan, whom Curtis describes as a "dynamic, world-renowned speaker." The Neenan Co. founder was conducting a business seminar. "I was just really smitten with the integrity and the commitment to humanity and the responsible perspective," Curtis says.
Reed Smith, 33
Vice president, employee benefits, CoBiz Insurance, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Manages $2 million in recurring revenue for CoBiz by delivering high performance health-care strategies to clients.
SALES PRODUCTION: Since joining CoBiz Insurance in January 2010, Smith has delivered three consecutive years of 25 percent to 50 percent growth for the firm’s benefits-consulting practice. He has consistently surpassed his sales goals by more than 200 percent the past two years.
INSIDE PRAISE: "Reed’s approach is to truly act as an adviser to his clients," says Paul Boehm, a CoBiz Insurance colleague who nominated Smith for this award. "His background on both the provider and adviser side give him a unique perspective."
SALES ADVICE: "Define your target market and commit to relentless pursuit of that market where you can add the most value," Smith says. "This will require walking away from an opportunity that falls outside of your defined target; however, in the long run it will produce superior and sustainable sales results."
SOCIAL-MEDIA SAVVY: "His resourcefulness is evident in his continual presence on social media connecting his clients and prospects to each other to provide them other resources to help in solving relevant issues or ways to take their business to the next level," Boehm says of Smith. "He is consistently using LinkedIn and Twitter to share timely information with his broad network."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "I strive to be a thought leader in the health-insurance industry. While our service model allows us to easily vie for business based on cost and resources, it is our approach that sets us apart from our competitors. Instead of waiting for the marketplace to define solutions, we are actively creating true sustainability for our clients."
Sandy Cirbo, 54
Business travel sales manager, Hotel Monaco Denver
WHAT SHE DOES: Cirbo is responsible for generating room revenue with a focus on penetrating existing accounts, uncovering new accounts and developing new business within assigned territory through aggressive prospecting, direct-sales calls and strategic partnerships
SALES PRODUCTION: Through September 2012, Cirbo exceeded her annual revenue target by 11 percent with four months remaining in the year. Her sales production was up 20 percent year-over-year through October. In 2011, she exceeded her annual revenue goal by more than 9 percent.
PRAISE FROM A PEER: "Sandy is always on point noticing sales opportunities wherever she goes," says Hotel Monaco colleague Beth Harty. "She uncovers new accounts by striking up conversations in elevators and by having great relationships with clients so they continually call and refer business."
SHARING WISDOM: "Sandy thrives on being a mentor to her teammates and consistently provides them with training/coaching as well as general staff support and guidance," Harty says. "Her positive energy is undeniably contagious, and she is one of the driving forces that makes our business better and stronger each year."
SALES ADVICE: "Be enthusiastic and passionate about what you are selling, and remember that nothing happens in business until someone sells something!"
ON CLOSING: "‘Closing’ is the logical conclusion to a well-executed sales process and it is the ‘opening’ of a new relationship," Cirbo says.
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "A sale isn’t something you pursue; it’s what happens when you are totally immersed in serving your client and taking care of their needs."
Sharyl Davis, 50
Senior account executive, Dean Evans & Associates, Denver
WHAT SHE DOES: Sells room- and resource-scheduling software to higher-education and health-care customers. She is also responsible for managing relationships with her 200 client accounts.
SALES PRODUCTION: Last year Davis became the first salesperson at Dean Evans & Associates to sell a single million-dollar-plus deal. It is also the largest single sale to a higher-education client in the company’s 26- year history and includes a statewide system of 37 colleges and universities. She is also the first DEA salesperson to book more than $2 million in revenue in a single year. Her year-over-year sales growth in 2012 was more than 400 percent.
SALES ADVICE: "One of the keys to my success has always been consistent and thorough follow-up," Davis says. "I think a lot of salespeople aren’t as successful as they could be because they stop making the calls to check in with a prospect or customer. Perhaps they’ve already moved on to the next deal. Continuing to touch base with someone has always served me well, as many times something has just happened and now they’re ready to start looking at software, and because I’m top of mind, they’ll reach out to me."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "My goal is to always listen closely to what a customer is saying and also what they’re ‘not saying.’ For many people it’s difficult dealing with salespeople, and I think often they just want to be heard. It’s my job to ask the right questions, and they’re often the questions they might not be expecting. The answers might be surprising and could lead to the real reasons they’re looking to buy scheduling software or something else."
Sue Feakes, 49
Account Executive, Workplace Resource, Denver
WHAT SHE DOES: Develops and nurtures longstanding relationships with commercial clients for Workplace Resource Colorado, a provider of workplace environment solutions and products.
SALES PRODUCTION: Over the past 25 years Feakes has landed $175 million in business for Workplace Resource. Her annual sales figures regularly average between $5 million and $10 million.
BACKGROUND: Feakes joined Workplace Resource out of college, starting as a project coordinator when the company was known as Office Pavilion. Nine months later she transitioned to the sales team. Soon after, she took on the U.S. West (now CenturyLink) account and in less than five years had a $25 million sales year.
SALES ADVICE: "Four simple words: really know your customer," Feakes says. "Take the time to research and understand the customer’s culture and values. Through that process of discovery you will determine the distinct workplace challenges they face and will consequently be able to fashion solutions that are ideal for them. Always keep in mind that no two customers are alike, and each and every experience with a customer and their workspace helps you grow as a sales expert."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "Every day I come to work with a deep appreciation of how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to provide my customers with a creative and strategic view of what is possible in their workplace," Feakes says. "My basic philosophy is that salespeople should always be thinking of every possible way to nurture relationships with every customer so they will regard you as an experienced and trusted partner."
Tyler Murphy, 30
Channel account manager, McAfee Inc. (an Intel company), Englewood
WHAT HE DOES: Supports the McAfee SecurityAlliance Partner community in the Northeastern United States. Other duties include recruiting, on-boarding and managing all SaaS & SMB focused resellers between New York and Maine.
SALES PRODUCTION: In his first year as channel account manager, Murphy led the SMB channel sales team in quota attainment throughout the year. As of second quarter 2012, he ranked No. 15 out of 188 McAfee channel employees in sales worldwide and No. 8 in North America.
VICTORIOUS MOMENT: In the first quarter of 2012, Murphy was notified he would be losing the largest account in his new territory. He worked to not only save the existing business; he negotiated a commitment to triple that account’s business and for it to take on three additional product lines. This represents a single deal worth over $480,000 for 2013.
EXTRA CREDIT: Murphy is on the board of directors of the Rockies Venture Club, a volunteer for the Special Olympics and a small business owner.
SALES TIP: "A premium LinkedIn account allows you to send a direct message to any person on LinkedIn," Murphy says. "This has allowed me to bypass the gatekeeper and connect directly with the decision makers of numerous large accounts."
ON CLOSING: "Build a personal relationship and sell value. Customer service is underrated. If you are responsive, provide accurate information and set good expectations, your clients will quickly tire of working with your competitors."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "Be easy to do business with."
Shelby Cooper, 36
Director of wholesale sales and account management, InterCall, Denver
WHAT HE DOES: Runs the largest and most established wholesale team in the conferencing industry. He ensures that product, billing, marketing, operations and other internal organizations are all aligned to provide channel partners with the resources and sales support necessary to grow their businesses.
SALES PRODUCTION: Revenue growth of 34 percent last year over 2011 managing a team of 20 with no employee turnover last year and only one in the last 24 months.
PRAISE: "Shelby is well-known in the telecom community and can walk onto the floor of any telecom tradeshow around the world and know the majority of companies and people at the show," says InterCall colleague Keith Johnson. "Prior to coming to InterCall, Shelby was responsible for growing the wholesale channel for one of our competitors from scratch, so his success at InterCall should come as no surprise."
SALES ADVICE: "Recognize and qualify your prospects’ potential and key requirements as early in the sales process as possible," Cooper says. "This will help you focus on the most important needs of the prospect, rally key resources quickly, and identify your strengths to drive home with the customer."
SALES PHILOSOPHY: "I have long believed in being honest and putting your customers’ needs and goals ahead of what you can ‘sell them.’ This will build trust and what I like to call ‘sales equity.’ As this equity builds over the term of a relationship, the customer will be confident you have its interests as a priority—which leads to new business, solid references and defines your reputation. Once you reach that place with your customers, you are on your way to a successful career in sales."