Posted: January 01, 2011
Colorado’s 25 Most Powerful Sales People
Top sellers surmount tough times with passion for work, belief in products
Back in January 2009 with the economy sputtering and consumers cutting back on spending, we thought it was an apt time to recognize people still able to close deals and keep their companies profitable, or at least afloat.
Now into the third rendition of our annual 25 Most Powerful Salespeople issue, the economy hasn't improved much, and in fact the employment picture has worsened, but you don't get that sense from the salespeople profiled here.
This year's 25 were selected based on nominations sought through our weekday online newsletter at www.cobizmag.com and other write-in nominees. While sales production played a big part in the selection, our editorial staff also considered unique challenges surmounted, creativity in deal-closing and in some cases simply the unique stories behind the salespeople.
Industry variety also played a part: Hence, on the following pages you'll find sellers of auto parts, cameras, retirement plans, IT and accounting services, an entertainment-booking agent, and more. What they have in common is a passion for their work and a belief in their product.
TOM BRIGGS, 36
Regional vice president, Transamerica Retirement Services, Denver
What he does: Works with small and medium-sized businesses in the sale and design of employee retirement plans, primarily 401(k) plans.
Sales production: More than $185 million in sales over the last five years of 401(k) plans to more than 250 Colorado businesses. Territory covers Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Sales tip: Use local business publications. "Print media has actually helped me become more successful. If you ask my wife, she would think my coffee table's a disgusting mess. These resources give me great insight into what's going on in the business community and put me in touch with business owners."
Capitalizing on technology: "Whether it be LinkedIn or Facebook ... when you go in to meet with a business for the first time, it helps to know who you may be connected to there (on LinkedIn) to help you get that business or help someone else open a door using a contact you have." Briggs also uses Google news alerts to keep abreast of news on prospective companies. "It makes me more prepared when I go in to meet with a board of directors. It shows you've done more homework than your competitors."
Why he schedules more than 35 meetings per week: "The more people you touch, the more people who know what you do, the more likely you are to increase sales. A big part of my success is a very, very busy calendar."
Jacob Estares, 37
Senior account manager, Neudesic, Denver office
What he does: Technical consulting and sales for Neudesic, a managed system integrator for Microsoft. His clients are top-tier companies such as Ball Corp. and Newmont Mining.
Sales production: Estares has driven sales from less than $700,000 in 2007 to approximately $4.5 million by the close of 2010.
Sales philosophy: "Just because I have a couple of marquee accounts that are going to ensure I at least hit my number, I never let off the gas. I always continue hunting and finding new accounts. So I guess I'm a bit of a pessimist as far as believing I'll be able to keep an account forever or that it'll put food on the table forever or keep consulting with me forever."
Attention to detail: "When we do a project for a customer, it's usually a pretty high-dollar amount and a lot of risk for the individual buying our service because they're on the hook for the success of that project. So I never lose sight of what the goal is on the project, understanding what the business objectives are and why they exist ... understanding what will make the individual who hired us be successful, look good within his organization."
Bottom line: "Earning and building a genuine trust relationship with clients is paramount for any type of professional sale."
Terri Fisher, 54
Founder and president, 5 Star Talent & Entertainment Inc., Westminster
What she does: Fisher books the entertainment for about 300 private, corporate and public events per year. She inked more than 370 contracts through the first three quarters of last year, including a contract to provide entertainment over four days in October for a national gathering of 10,000 members of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Denver.
Background: Before launching 5 Star Talent & Entertainment 10 years ago, Fisher along with her father and brother operated Denver-based World Entertainment Services, developing original bands and other musical artists.
Deal-closing advice: "It isn't always about doing it one time, asking for the job and maybe not getting it. It's going back every year until you do get it. For example, Denver Country Club shut me down for four years before I got their business."
Surviving the recession: "I provide a service. I don't have a tangible product. I think sometimes selling a service is a little more challenging in a recession. My thoughts and beliefs are that if you are not passionate and enthusiastic about what you do, whether you're the real estate person selling a house or you're the hairdresser styling hair or the dentist cleaning teeth, no one's going to call you."
Shane Fugazy, 36
Business account executive, Comcast Business Services, Denver
What he does: Sells voice, Internet and telecommunications services to customers ranging from micro-businesses to medium-sized businesses with 50 to 60 employees.
Sales production: In less than a year, Fugazy increased his predecessor's monthly recurring revenue production by 275 percent, bringing in about $10,000 in new revenue-generating contracts per month on average for the small-medium arm of Comcast Business Services. The average, or benchmark, is about $2,500 per month.
Sales philosophy: "Successful salespeople don't measure themselves on the small level, like, ‘What is your quota?' You measure yourself against the best in the business. Don't allow yourself to set low standards for yourself. One hundred percent (of your quota) is nothing - that's where you're supposed to be - or you're fired. That's not achieving, that's what you're hired to do."
Sales tip: "One thing I think is critical in selling is telling the story. Make it relate to them. Put them in a real-life situation. ‘Anti-lock breaks' is a great example. What does that mean? That means if you're coming down Floyd Hill, you won't skid. That's what we've had to do in the recession, a time no one wants to make a change. Take the products we're offering and relate it to them in realistic, homegrown, chicken-and-dumplings terms: How on a day-to-day basis this (purchase) was a smart risk they are going to take."
Will Greer, 39
Vice president of sales, SAP Americas Inc., Greenwood village
Greer is a top-performing sales manager for SAP, the largest provider of business software in the country. Products range from payroll and manufacturing software to analytics and decision-support software for large companies and governments.
Sales production: Greer's sales of software licenses (plus 22 percent for annual renewals) totaled $3.8 million in 2008, $11.5 million in 2009 and a projected $10.2 million last year.
Sales philosophy: "Don't be a sales guy, be an ideas guy. If you have good ideas, sales will follow. Understand who your customers are. I want a customer to feel like I'm an expert in that business. Rather than a sales guy walking in the door, I want them to look at us as a group of people who have good ideas for them."
Adjusting to the recession: "To be successful in this environment, everything we do has to have a business case behind it. I feel more like a consultant in a sales role than I do like a sales guy now. We've got to create a clear understanding of how the customer will benefit from the investment. No one buys anything because of the emotional want, or because it's the logical next step for their company or any of those subjective things. Everything's got to have a solid business case behind it, so you've got to be good at presenting that as a salesperson."
Bill Heuston, 45
Senior account executive, ViaWest, denver
What he does: Sells managed hosting solutions to clients with mission-critical Internet applications. Clients range from small to medium-size businesses to Fortune 100 companies.
Sales production: Heuston typically secures contracts totaling $7 million to $11 million per year, reflecting both new and renewing business.
Sales tip: "Be confident in your optimism. Look for the successful outcome in all you do in your selling - internal and external. We all have a positive instinct on how something can be achieved. The trick is letting this instinct guide you to achieving it versus letting outside forces stop you."
What he's learned: "I've been in sales 20 years. I've come to realize my success in sales has come from me looking at everybody I interact with as a lifelong relationship."
Quote of note: "All of our negotiations and purchasing comes from C-levels and even boards of directors of our clients. It's really a strategic decision for our clients to choose to partner with us because we're pretty much managing their entire infrastructure in most cases - their intellectual property, etc. I've had CEOs look me in the eye and say, ‘Do you realize I'm handing over the company to you?' It's that serious."
Kittie Hook, 51
Senior vice president, corporate services, Cassidy Turley Fuller Real Estate, Denver
What she does: Corporate services, local and nationwide, for a variety of clients. She assisted Vestas Technology R&D Americas Inc. in acquiring land for the Denmark-based company's first U.S. manufacturing plant. She's also helped other Danish suppliers to Vestas establish facilities in the Denver area.
Sales production: Hook has been among the top 10 producers in an office that currently has about 57 brokers with sales volume over the past three years of more than $50 million.
Surviving the recession: "In this downturn it's just persistence: sticking with the project and making it happen, not letting obstacles prevent it from happening; finding solutions. The last couple of years to get anything done, you've had to overcome a lot of obstacles and you've had to get real creative and find a solution."
Commercial real estate outlook: "Our recovery will be slow and steady. One advantage we have in the Denver metro area is we didn't overbuild in the past 10 years as we did in past recessions, so the supply and demand is pretty equal. 2010 was much better than 2009, and the pipeline is looking better for 2011, too. The one thing happening right now is you're getting more activity, but it's genuine; it's not just kicking the tires."
Peter Hurley, 49
Senior manager, Corporate Strategic Federal Tax Services, Denver office of Grant Thornton LLP
What he does: Regarded as an expert in the field of transaction cost analysis, Hurley specializes in tax-consulting services for companies involved in mergers and acquisitions. His consulting contracts range from about $50,000 to $200,000.
Sales production: Grant Thornton colleague Sean Espy said Hurley recently sold five projects and received signed agreements in a single 24-hour period, "a feat which has never been accomplished before in this area." To which Hurley modestly points out that he'd been working on those relationships for anywhere from six months to two years, and the five deals just happened to come together around the same time.
Sales philosophy: "You don't come in to sell something, you're building a relationship. You're listening. I may come in and think I have something they want, that they need. But I'll find out over the course of lunch or ski day or whatever, just from listening to what's giving them a headache, that they really need something completely different than what I originally thought."
Bottom line: "There's a number of firms out there competing among each other. They're going to go with who they feel most comfortable with."
Stephanie Iannone, 39
Owner of Housing Helpers of Colorado LLC and Housing Helpers of Boulder LLC
What she does: "We do corporate housing, real estate, buying and selling, and relocation services for companies." Housing Helpers of Boulder is a real estate company, while Housing Helpers of Colorado is a relocation company. Iannone owns both. In 2009 her sales volume on real estate transactions totaled $22 million, and her companies' combined revenues were $4 million.
Impact of the recession: "When you're in this type of environment people actually need better services more than ever. In the sea of all the online information, people really crave having that expert, that person who knows the market who can walk them through it, hold their hand and help them find something that's as important as their housing. Our company has grown every year through this recession."
Sales philosophy: "I go to sales seminars all the time where people are very focused on ‘you have to call so many people' and doing these numerical equations where you have to get so many leads and call so many people. For me it's really just about taking the clients you have and focusing on what is it they need and being able to deliver that, really caring that they're getting the best service possible, asking for referrals and really letting the word of mouth spread about how effective you are and what you do."
Kevin Lewis, 28
Sales manager, Colorado region, Sports Shares LLC, Greenwood Village
What he does: For Sports Shares, Lewis sold fractional shares of luxury sports suites. In his three years there he was the top sales producer each year and helped build the company from concept stage to $2 million in revenue last year. Late in 2010 Lewis accepted a national business development/sales role with SquareTwo Financial and was slated to begin there on December 27.
Sales philosophy: "I think a trap some people fall into is, they're engaged in a meeting and spending a lot of time thinking of what they're going to say next instead of actually listening to what the prospect is saying. You miss out on a lot of the pain points that essential clients have. If you key in to what people are saying and then do what's in their best interest and act with integrity and follow through on what you say you're going to do, ultimately you build a relationship and people trust that you're going to do what's best for them."
Giving back: Lewis is the director and sits on the board of Denver Active 20/30 Children's Foundation, a nonprofit group of about 70 male business leaders between 20 and 39. Lewis was the top fundraiser last year as he raised more than $60,000 through his business contacts and networks.
Malinda McGurk, 49
Director of performance advisers, Red Book Solutions, Englewood
What she does: Works with clients - corporations with multiple units - to help them drive performance at the unit level. Clients include McDonald's, Nordstrom, Whole Foods and Aramark. "I work with clients to help make their good managers better," she says. "We create the means for the managers to live the standards that the corporations believe in."
Sales production: McGurk has been Red Book Solutions' top sales rep the past three years, landing accounts such as Aramark and Whole Foods. Red Book Solutions CEO Greg Thiesen says this of McGurk: "Exceedingly fast on her feet in overcoming objections and dissecting complex business models to help customers drive success through existing managers."
Impact of the recession: "(Clients) have really needed to run lean and mean, which they haven't had to do in many years. They realize their standards are even more critical and that they need to be clearly outlined. So that's actually helped our business, being able to deliver that mechanism for them."
Sales philosophy: "The difference between a good salesperson and a better salesperson is their ability to ask questions and actually listen to what their clients are telling them. If you don't understand your clients and their goals you can't possibly help them buy the right solution."
Best part of sales: "I love the challenge. The biggest thing is being able to help different clients understand their business and really help them move their business forward."
Jay McMullan, 43
Vice president of sales, Bridgewater Systems, Greenwood Village
What he does: Leads a sales team of 15 selling mobile software throughout the Americas region (Canada, U.S., and Latin America).
Sales production: McMullan was instrumental in building a startup company to sales of $85 million and has increased his personal sales by 1,100 percent over eight years. He was on track to increase sales another 50 percent in 2010.
Business in a nutshell: McMullan has landed sales with six of the largest mobile operators, including Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Clearwire, Bell Mobility, U.S. Cellular and America Movil. He has negotiated and closed multiple $25 million-plus contracts and recently completed a $65 million contract with the largest U.S. cellular carrier.
Sales tip: "We all gravitate to the ‘easy meeting,' but what I work with my team and myself on is: What's the meeting we're NOT having? I'm always looking for reasons the deal won't get done. I don't want to hear why it's going to go; I want to know why it might not get done so I can overcome that in advance. Salespeople always want to see the people they can relate to, or who they're buds with or that they have some camaraderie with. A lot of times that's not where the deal gets done. Especially in a tough market, any negativity can undermine a large capital sale."
Joshua Moody, 41
Manager of business development, FORTRUST, Denver
What he does: "We sell data center outsourcing. We provide the facility components for a customer's infrastructure - highly available data center with all the redundant power cooling. Then we layer our services on top of that. It's as simple as managing their Internet and as complicated as helping to manage their actual systems the applications run on."
Low-key approach: "I like to listen more than I like to talk. I'm not one of the silver-tongued salespeople. I really enjoy trying to understand their business and their unique needs and what we can do to help. Then I try to tailor our products and services to meet their needs at a fair price."
Track record: Moody joined FORTRUST in 2008 but has been in the colocation data center/managed services industry since 1999 and spent five years prior to that on the hardware side of the business -- so he has survived tech's boom and bust years. "I went through the darkest days and came through on the other side slightly unscathed."
Sales acumen: Moody was on track to beat his 2010 sales goal by more than 200 percent. When contacted in mid-December by ColoradoBiz, he said he expected his largest order of the year to be approved within the next 20 minutes: "I may take Friday off."
Tyler Murphy, 28
Channel development manager, McAfee Inc., Denver
What he does: "We do all our business through resellers. I form strategic channel distribution relationships, specifically for our security-as-a-service via our cloud computing business unit. I go out and find IT customers who have an existing base of customers and typically have some sort of a security focus."
Fast track: In less than three years Murphy has signed more than 365 businesses partners, resulting in more than 3,000 new customers, 100,000 users and more than $1 million in reoccurring subscription revenue and $1.8 million in total revenue.
Sticking his neck out: When his supervisor declined his request to attend an industry conference in New York, Murphy asked for vacation time and went anyway, deciding the opportunity was too important. He ended up accompanying his New York-based boss to the conference. "We met with a lot of top accounts. When I got back, they were so happy with what I had done, they paid me for the trip," said Murphy who has an MBA in entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado Denver. (In his spare time, he runs DenverVIP.com, a corporate concierge service.)
Recession buster: "Our services are actually something that plays well in the economy because people can't afford their IT staff, and they can't afford the hardware and software that maybe they had in the past. A lot of times it's a cost-saving strategy to move to cloud computing. That makes us attractive."
Scott Navratil, 42
Vice president, sales and marketing, Vitelity Communications, Englewood
What he does: "We're a wholesale VOIP (voice-over-Internet protocol) carrier. We also do wholesale fax. We set up companies that want to compete with Qwest, Comcast and Vonage. We provide these services to our customers and give them the ability to private-label those products and services."
Growth curve: Navratil, a 20-year sales veteran, has helped the company grow revenues by 70 percent in the three years he has been with Vitelity and signed 40 out of the company's top 50 accounts. During that period he signed 600 wholesale clients worldwide.
Praise from the boss: "Having Scott as VP of sales is like having two people - he consistently beats all sales estimates," Vitelity President Gregory Giagnocavo says. "Scott arranged to have a hosted PBX server installed on a weekend for a customer who had a disaster at his office. That made a ‘customer for life.'"
Salute your team: "You can't really be successful unless you have a good team to support you, good developers, good support staff, good marketing," Navratil says. "I'm definitely not a one-man show. We have some very qualified individuals who have really helped us grow this business to be what it is. We're considered one of the leaders in our industry."
John Payne, 48
Director of business development, Acxiom Corp., Broomfield
What he does: Acxiom Identity Solutions, a business line of Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom Corp., helps banking, financial services, telecom, insurance and health care companies by verifying and authenticating the identity of their clients and potential clients for the purposes of identity theft prevention, fraud detection, regulatory compliance and consumer protection.
Sales track: This year Payne closed deals of $30 million in total contract value over five years and $10 million over three years, the biggest in the history of Acxiom Identity Solutions.
Sales philosophy: "The first thing I've always concentrated on is being a very good specialist in whatever I'm selling," says Payne, who has spent his sales career in technical fields. "I've always taken it upon myself to be as much of an expert as anybody in the company on the products that I'm selling."
Tips for success: "Rarely do I see anyone even talk much about the role of intuition. No sales course can teach you that. You really have to have a feel for your client. People say about my sales style that I'm a bit of a chameleon. Whatever the jargon or the pace of the conversation that my client is going with, I try to mimic that as best as I can."
Brian Rabin, 43
Customer service representative, Mike's Camera, Boulder
What he does: "I spend my day educating people on different types of equipment, and then they make the best choice of what will be good for them," says Rabin, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the industry and nearly seven years with Mike's Camera. "I like people to choose what they're buying. I listen very actively, show them things and get them comfortable."
Top salesman: Companywide, Rabin consistently sells 25 percent more cameras than his colleagues, his company says.
Beyond the sale: Rabin has helped Mike's Camera develop photography classes, critique sessions and a camera club to help customers learn how to make the most of their new purchases. In November, he'll help lead a trek to Africa for a safari photo experience. "It's become both easier and more difficult for people to take pictures," he says. "Anybody can pick up a camera and start taking pictures. The difficulty lies in a lot of the technical parts because you're really buying a computer that happens to take pictures."
Customer connections: "When I was a young guy, my intent was to own my own camera store and be a pillar of the community. The nature of the business has changed so much, that wasn't something I was ever able to facilitate. Instead, I work at this great place for these great people who give me the ability to do all the things I've wanted to do."
Michael Schmidlen, 51
President and founder of Advanced Datacomm Solutions Inc., Castle Rock
What he does: "I am a high school graduate who has built a multimillion dollar, international home-based business selling complex voice compression hardware and operating as a solo-entrepreneur for much of that time." ADS is a value-added reseller that offers voice and data communications products and services both in the U.S. and abroad.
Inc. 5000 kudos: "How can CEO Michael Schmidlen - the company's only employee -compete with Cisco, Nortel, and Avaya?" Inc. said in 2008, when Advanced Datacomm Solutions was ranked No. 4,492 in the Inc. 5000. "He has been in the industry for 20 years and offers call centers voice compression hardware that competitors don't have. His business is 100 percent referral-based." (The company grew by 78 percent the following year and moved up to No. 3,291.)
Toughening up to the economy: "I do not believe in recessionary thinking and instead am driven by hard work, the ability to adapt, the importance of continuously learning and improving. It's all a matter of knowing how to capitalize on opportunities that have always existed with emerging trends and technologies."
Inventing the future: "I have been involved in a mobile software startup company (Boulder-based 5o9 Inc.) this year as an adviser and investor. I've learned an entire new industry. I've never sold software so this is a challenge for me."
Liz Sleeman, 36
Sales and marketing manager, D.R. Horton Inc., Denver
What she does: Until her promotion to sales and marketing manager in November, Liz Sleeman was a saleswoman for D.R. Horton and sold 52 homes in 2010, topping her closest competitor in the company by four homes. "The last 2 1/2 years have been the best years that I've had financially - in the worst climate in history," she says. "It's all what you make of it."
Recession buster: "It is a tough market, but it's all about attitude and perception. Each of us are assigned a community, and I think it is what you make of it. The majority of what I did last year were referrals. D.R. Horton has been the No. 1 builder in the country for eight years in a row so we stand behind our product, our value and our warranty."
Sales discipline: "I have certain schedules that I follow and I stick to it. I believe success comes from consistency and persistence."
Graduating to management: Sleeman concedes getting a promotion was bittersweet: "My passion is the sales. Management is fun, but it's not the same. It's more about coaching."
Tips for beginners: "Never give up. Don't take no for an answer."
John Stewart, 41
Vice president of business development, SpireMedia, Denver
His favorite year: SpireMedia, which develops Web and mobile applications for business, will mark 2010 as the most successful year in company history, topping even the tech boom peak in 1999. Under his tenure, the company has produced year-over-year growth for the past seven years in both revenue and profit.
Recession busters: "We focused on our long-time anchor clients, and we made sure we did everything we could to make sure their business was successful, and that we were there for them. It was a hard time not just for companies like Spire but for them as well."
Sales philosophy: "In general, successful selling is about relationships and value and not the lowest price."
Never burn a bridge: "That's particularly true here in Denver, but in general that's always a good idea. You never know where those people will pop back up in your sales life."
Lives in balance: "We take care of our people. We provide them a very good work/life balance. Many of our folks have been with us five-plus years. There are big deadlines to hit when you're working for your clients, and it can be very stressful. But we're very wary of pushing people too hard and try to make sure we get them home at a reasonable hour to be with their families."
Bruce Thorne, 50
Sales manager, CodeBaby, Colorado Springs
What he does: CodeBaby created animated digital characers - a "CodeBaby" designed to enhance the customer experience online. Thorne leads the sales team at the company in both production and acquiring new clients. In his first month with the company, he more than doubled his sales target and was top sales manager in 2009.
Setting the scene: "I spend a lot of time in a discovery phase with my clients so I can get a really good understanding of what my clients' needs are short term and long term. That way we can build a credible partnership."
Planting a flag: "Our biggest challenge is getting our name out in the marketplace today. The product has been around for a while, but we're launching a new distribution method. It's a matter of evangelizing and getting the word out."
Selling in tough times: "At the end of the day, businesses are still looking for solutions that address their needs. And in some cases, an investment in a solution can be more cost-effective for them as well. It's really a matter of keeping the activity up, being open-minded, and taking a consultative approach."
Tips for beginners: "Work hard, keep an open mind and have a good attitude."
Jay Weber, 42
Founder and executive vice president of sales, Liberty-Bell Telecom. denver
What he does: Liberty-Bell focuses on telecommunications and computing services for small businesses, generally those with 20 or fewer employees, providing phone, Internet, data backup and other needs. In December, the Dish Network announced plans to acquire the company, which Weber co-founded with self-proclaimed consumer "troubleshooter" Tom Martino in 2003.
Staying connected: "I do a lot of networking and volunteering outside the office to build friendships and relationships both in the telecom industry and outside the industry. I feel like I'm as much a resource for connecting other people as I am for myself, and that seems to pay dividends back. I call it my social capital."
Sales allies: "A couple of times a week, I'm providing leads to other people in the industry for things we don't provide, and in turn they're passing leads back to me. I think it's really helped all of us through the downturn."
The one to call: "I pride myself on being an expert in my field," says Weber, a board member of Communications Technology Professionals. "Now more than ever, people want to know that they're making good decisions so they're calling people they know in their network who are experts in the field for information and recommendations."
Jarrett Winter, 34
Major account executive, Qwest Communications, denver
Finding the right solution: "In the industry we're in - technology and communications - we offer complicated solutions and complicated products, and equally complicated are our clients' environments. My success has always been predicated on spending a lot of time listening, understanding, discussing with them what they're trying to accomplish and designing the solutions that meet their business objectives."
On call: "I always make myself available for my clients, and I think that's something that's always been appreciated. I get calls Sundays. I get calls 10:30 at night on Fridays. We provide the backbone to all businesses, and it's a very high touch, very sensitive environment that we provide to them, and it's important that we're there."
Sales track: Winter met or exceeded all his sales targets for the first three quarters of 2010 and was on track to do the same in the fourth quarter. "For the year, I will finish meeting all three sales targets across our new services, our equipment and our retention targets," he said.
True believer: "I believe in the product, and I believe in the company, and I think that comes through to my clients."
In his spare time: Winter is a second-year student at the University of Colorado's Executive MBA program and has a 3.6 grade point average.
Jonathan Candee, 33
Strategic carrier account manager, XO Communications, denver
What he does: "XO Carrier Services provides wholesale solutions for other large carriers. Obviously not everyone has network everywhere; not everyone has an Internet backbone. We provide for these types of customers large Internet connections from point A to point B. For wireless carriers we provide cellular backhaul, taking services from a cell tower and carrying them back at a high bandwidth."
Track record: Candee has been the top revenue generator for the company for the past three years and expected to end 2010 in first or second place. As of mid-December he had generated $628,679 in monthly recurring revenue.
Knowledge is power: Candee has both an engineering degree and an MBA, something that comes in handy when you're dealing with clients like Google and T-Mobile. "They're going to be very technically savvy," he says.
Adapting to change: "Some of my smaller accounts have certainly stumbled a little bit. I've developed larger, more complex deals that take into account how to keep their existing business with us, maybe write that down a little bit, in exchange for larger network orders and network deployment."
Sales philosophy: "The easier and faster I can respond to a customer, the easier it is for them to interact with us. Business will take care of itself."
John Wray, 69
Owner of Marsau's Auto Parts, Sterling
What he does: Drives as many as 1,000 miles a week calling on customers in northeastern Colorado. In a day he'll drive 200 miles, from Sterling to small towns like Yuma, Wiggins and Brush. "In the rural area, it's much more traditional. If these guys don't see you, then you lose them. I call on just about everything that has a car: service stations, schools, city, county, shops - almost anywhere that has a mechanic on duty."
An old brand: Wray, who formerly owned and operated a chain of auto parts stores, bought Marsau's in 1995, but his store has been around for 83 years. "It was started a year before the Great Depression in 1928 so it's really survived everything."
Keeping current: "I constantly read manuals, articles out of the magazines that come out in our field. I do not like to be embarrassed by somebody asking me something I know absolutely nothing about."
Finding a niche: Marsau's Auto Parts rebuilds starters and alternators - because everyone else quit. The store also offers small-engine repair for such brands as lawnmower maker Briggs & Stratton.
Fess up to your mistakes: "We bust our butt to take care of people. I've driven all the way from Sterling to Denver because I screwed up on something."