Posted: January 07, 2013
Colorado’s 25 Most Powerful Salespeople
Top producers turn prospects into customers by identifying needs – and fulfilling themBy Mike Taylor
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."
Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. E-mail him at email@example.com.