2014 Top 10 Most Powerful Salespeople

Sure, these charismatic folks know how to network their tails off and could probably sell the Brooklyn Bridge to a New York native. But being the best in a biz brimming with charmers takes something more: a sense of humor, organization, tenacity – to name a few of the traits that earned our finalists their top spots.

And, according to the Harvard Business Review, while different training and backgrounds are required to sell various products and services, basic sales dynamics transcend all industries. “Many sales executives feel that the type of selling in their industry … is somehow completely special and unique,” write David Mayer and Herbert Greenberg in What Makes a Good Salesman. But, the authors found, “The dynamics of success remain approximately the same in all cases.”

Gino Malara of Northern Electric couldn’t agree more. One of our Top 10, he started as an account manager for The Walt Disney Co. before transitioning to oil and gas. “Salespeople are not restricted to just one industry,” Malara said. “My skills have made me successful in the oil and gas industry.”

A top salesperson knows how to listen – and how to ask questions that matter. Add to that enthusiasm, empathy, passion and willingness to roll up your sleeves and put in the time. Superstars aren’t content waiting for customers to come to them – they’re persistent. From weathering budget cuts to stiff competition and the daunting task of getting to C-level decision makers, the challenges faced are vast and complex. That’s why, above all else, these guys and gals know how to stay motivated. At ColoradoBiz, we’ve recognized outstanding sales talent and the tactics behind successful local businesses for years. This time, we’ve asked the standouts themselves to explain what it takes to make it to the top.

Curtis Schlacter


Grand Junction


SELLING POINT: Expanded CFM’s HVAC presence into the Western Slope, growing the business from the metro area to Utah’s border.  

What’s your most unforgettable sale?

“A remodel at Grand Junction High School in 2009. It involved working side-by-side with Blaine Buck at Bighorn Engineering and Dennis Wynn at Four Wynns Mechanical to ensure we provided the necessary airflow requirements, unobstructed views from the grandstands, and clearances to avoid interfering with basketball and volleyball games in the gymnasium. This job not only broke the ice as the first DuctSox fabric air dispersion system on the Western Slope, it also fostered long-lasting relationships that continue to this day.”

How do you stay motivated when doors close?

“Two things: music and family. I blast the music, preferably early ’80s, when I’m trying to get motivated. I’ve got two kids, ages 3 1/2 and 7, and that’s all it takes, just thinking about them and my wife.”

Tina Pilger

Workplace Resource



SELLING POINT: Received Herman Miller’s Million Dollar Club Cube Award three times, signifying more than $1 million in purchases in a single year, a rare feat in the furniture industry.

Any examples of relationships you’ve nurtured in your role?

“A decade ago I won one of the biggest clients of my entire career. We were competing against 10 other furniture vendors, and this particular win followed a year-long process where Workplace Resource invested a ton of time and energy into methodically learning about the client’s business and their precise needs – all with the goal of exceeding their expectations. The client realized Workplace Resource would be a strong business partner and an invaluable teacher, specifically guiding them on how to take a sustainable approach to their project. They expressed thanks for our honest and upfront approach on all aspects of a large furniture purchase and installation. To this day, the client continues to value the close and trusting working relationship we’ve forged over the past decade.”

Megan Wachtman

8z Real Estate



SELLING POINT:  In 2013, she closed on 85 sides, which consisted of 38 buyers, 47 sellers and a total sales volume $22.8 million.

How do you stay motivated?

“I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and instead of dwelling on the negative things I try to make it a learning experience. If I lose out on that transaction, it was a great experience to better myself and learn how I can change. I’m not afraid to ask clients what I could have done better to earn their business.”

How do you start a sale?

“I’ve been most successful by finding common ground with the client, finding something we have a shared interest in. I can sell a house any day, but by talking about sports, hobbies, kids – that’s how you really gain trust.”

Jason Buehler

IMA Inc.



SELLING POINT:  Has the second largest book of business at IMA and was a top producer in the company in 2013 for new business, landing nearly six times more new business than the industry average.

What was your most memorable seal-the-deal moment?

“There was a very large publicly traded E&P company I had been chasing for a while. I cultivated a good relationship with the general counsel, who said they would give me an opportunity to review their policy – no guarantees. I did my job building the relationship and making the prospect feel comfortable that we were experts. Then, my team absolutely nailed it by finding 26 missing coverage endorsements in their current policy. They hired us on the spot!”

How do you stay motivated?

“In my world, losses hurt way more than victories feel good. That said, I’m naturally motivated. You cannot take it personally when somebody closes the door. Rather, in a relationship business like this, you have to stay positive.”

David DeCamillis

Platte River Networks



SELLING POINT: Helped grow firm revenue from just more than $1 million in 2008 to $5 million in 2013, while simultaneously running Platte River Network’s marketing, PR and vendor management programs. He also landed a regular spot on Fox 31 as a technology expert and runs the Denver Biztech Expo.

How do you maintain enthusiasm for all your projects?

“That’s easy! I’m so competitive. As the youngest boy of four brothers, you can imagine how competitive it was growing up, even for something as small as a meatball at the dinner table. Any time I lose a deal, the first person I look at is myself. Either I didn’t identify and flush out the opportunity enough to realize we weren’t the right fit, or I didn’t present the solution well enough for the customer to say yes. You can’t win them all, but whenever I lose a sale it provides additional motivation to figure out how I can do a better job next time by presenting the best possible solution to get that customer exactly what they need.”

Read about the rest of our Top Salespeople.