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Colorado's Most Powerful Salespeople: John Roelke

 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."

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