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Posted: January 30, 2009

Colorado’s 25 most powerful salespeople

Sixth annual ‘power list' profiles closers excelling in tough times

Mike Taylor and Mike Cote


Back in 2004, ColoradoBiz launched a feature we’ve come to refer to in shorthand as the “power-list issue.” It started off as a ranking – subjective, to be sure – of, simply, powerful people. That is, the 25 business owners, philanthropists, politicians, wealthy activists and others we as an editorial staff regarded as one way or another the state’s greatest power wielders.

The following year we kept the annual power-theme going, but instead of people we ranked the 25 most powerful organizations.

We’ve alternated between ranking powerful people and powerful organizations every January since, and it’s become an annual staple of the magazine. This year, though, we decided to change it up and look at the people who so often are the catalysts for a business’ growth and in today’s environment likely the key to a company’s very survival.

Introducing: Colorado’s 25 Most Powerful Salespeople  
They include a real estate agent who specializes in luxury mountain homes in the Vail area and who ranked fifth among agents nationwide for sales volume in 2007; an advance-planning counselor for funeral arrangements who set a company sales record in 2008; and a sales executive for bison meat whose sales are up 30 percent over last year, remarkable growth for a high-end product in a down economy.

No car salespeople were nominated. Go figure.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, salespeople make up 12 percent of Colorado’s work force, roughly 315,123 of the estimated 2.6 million employees in the state. It’s not only a numerous group, but an incredibly wide-ranging one. In coming up with our final 25, we sought to reflect the variety that the Colorado sales industry encompasses.

Nominees for our 25 profiles came from solicitations sent out to 8,500 e-mail subscribers of the Colorado chapter of the Sales Association, to firms on the 2008 ColoradoBiz Top 250 Private Companies list and to subscribers of the ColoradoBiz e-mail newsletter.

We think you’ll appreciate learning about the challenges that these 25 people encounter in their work, and if you’re in sales you likely can relate to their struggles — and to their triumphs in good times and bad.


Catherine Jones Coburn, 57
Broker, Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate at Bachelor Gulch Village (Vail)

What she does: Represents buyers and sellers of mountain-resort properties.
Personal data: With $201 million in sales in 2007,

Jones ranked fifth nationally among 1.2 million real estate agents, according to The Wall Street Journal and Lore Magazine. She’s been the top-selling agent in Bachelor Gulch Village for nine years running. Sales volume in fiscal 2008: $73.3 million.

Inside the numbers: Jones was the listing agent for the two highest priced single-family homes ever sold in Beaver Creek Resort and Bachelor Gulch Village — at $10.9 million and $11.5 million respectively in the spring of 2005. She also was the listing agent for ex-President Gerald Ford’s former home in 2007.

Customer-satisfaction tip: “Keep everyone constantly informed, whether it’s good news or bad news. I probably e-mail clients four or five times a week with what’s going on in the marketing with their specific property, what ad’s been run, who’s shown the property, what’s sold, what’s come on the market. Right now there obviously are not a lot of sales going on, but you want them to be very informed.”

Recession-survival advice: “The buyers think the world’s coming to an end, the sellers are kind of in denial, so if you get them to kind of meet. … Knowing your market is critical. Know every single property in your market so that when people walk in or call, you know exactly what’s going on.”

Tim Harrington, 51

Senior vice president, office group, GrubB & Ellis, Denver

What he does: The 24-year industry commercial real estate veteran represents major landlords in Denver, focusing primarily on office space in the corporate market. Harrington has consistently placed among the top Grubb & Ellis brokers nationwide, reaching the top five several years.

Background: Harrington averages about $240 million in business annually and says 2008 was significantly stronger for him than 2007.

Sales tips: “My sales philosophy is based on being able to do multiple transactions with the same people with the same positive results year after year. … A number of my clients go back to when I first started in the business. That’s kind of fun. There are a lot of people in this business who I was able to learn a lot from, and there are a lot of people in this business I continue to learn from.”

Surviving a recession: “It always seems a little bit worse than it really is. That’s been my take every time I’ve been in a downturn. It’s when I see the best from the people in my profession. The work ethic I’m seeing in my office right now is phenomenal. If you’re in that kind of environment you’re sure to be successful.”

Matthew Dribnak, 25
Director of Sales & Marketing, Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Denver

What he does: “Marketing, advertising, communicating to all our customers, networking, cold-calling. You name it, I pretty much do it. I do the sales for the golf club itself, but we also have a landscaping company (GVR Landscape), we have McGetrick Golf Academy and we’re home to the HealthONE Colorado Open Championships.”

Surprising stat: Green Valley Ranch enjoyed its best sales year in its seven-year history, increasing membership by 42 percent in 2008. Dribnak’s golf sales totaled $700,000 through mid-December.

Plan at work: After being told by a prospect that budget cuts would prevent him from holding an annual golf outing, Dribnak put together a document titled, “Top 10 Ways to Make Money for Your Organization Hosting a Golf Tournament.” It included side events that would net an extra $40 per player and a way to attract sponsors by giving them more recognition.

The result: After a round of golf and a few beers with Dribnak, the prospect decided on the spot to hold his company’s tourney at GVR next year. And a couple of months later the company decided to purchase a corporate membership. 

Sales philosophy: “If you feel uncomfortable selling your product, your prospect will feel uncomfortable buying your product. You have to truly believe your product is the best. Remember, sincerity sells.”

Chris Boumeester, 32
Vice president of sales, Colorado Asphalt Services Inc., Commerce City

What he does: Secures business for the Commerce City asphalt and concrete company, including working with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Background: Boumeester generated sales in 2007 of $1.4 million, and as of early December he had logged $2.2 million for 2008. “Considering all maintenance and construction of parking lots and roads have been reduced by as much as 40 percent in the past two years, it further illustrates Chris’ phenomenal success,” said H. Wayne Lesier, president, CEO and owner of CASI.

Sales tips: “At the end of the day it’s always about belly to belly, spending time with people, certainly your customers. I always try to connect on a personal level: going for a run, doing them a favor that is unrelated to the business we’re going to discuss.”

Recession challenges: The high cost of oil over the past year led the company to guarantee prices only for 30 days. “When people fix your parking lot, it’s usually a lot bigger ticket item than painting their building,” he says. “When the prices double overnight, it’s incredible.” With oil prices coming back down, the climate has improved. “We’ve been able to go to a longer lead time and not necessarily hold them to a 30-day price commitment.”

Paul Bernardo, 57
Vice president of sales, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats Inc., Henderson

What he does: Markets and sells Great Range-brand bison meat to about 80 clients nationwide. Clients include Whole Foods, major grocers and boutique meat shops.

Company note: Rocky Mountain Natural Meats processes all the bison grown on Ted Turner’s ranches and served at Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants. That accounts for about 20 percent of Rocky Mountain’s business and is the only major account Bernardo doesn’t handle. The company anticipated revenues of $40 million in 2008, a 30 percent increase over the previous year. When Bernardo joined the company in 1998 its annual revenues were $2.7 million.

Key to success: “We stay in constant contact with our customers. I think one of the key things is not to forget your current customers and go chasing somebody else all the time.”

Typical day: “It’s a great job because there’s not a lot of paperwork, you don’t have to submit your schedule. I just go where I want to go. We usually start new customers with that fresh, ground buffalo, the one-pound pack. We get that going, established, then we’ll show them something new like maybe our top sirloins. We’re lucky that most of the accounts we’re dealing with are growing, they’re adding stores.”

Fred Kessler, 37
President and chief sales officer, Sales Partnerships Inc., Westminster

What he does: Sales Partnerships creates “virtual” sales forces for other companies, such as Level 3 Communications and Verizon. It recruits sales reps, builds the program and sells the product using the client’s branding.

Background: Kessler’s sales for 2007 were $5.2 million; in 2008 as of early December he took in $10 million for $1.8 billion in gross sales for client companies.

Sales tips: “You can’t have product be king. Products ultimately are important, but they’re secondary to the sales force. Your investments have to focus on constantly honing the talents, giving the reps the right support, and ultimately building the right sales team.”

Surviving a downturn: “There’s never been a period of sustained growth this long, which creates a huge problem in selling. For the first time in history, we have 75 percent of the current sales force in America having never sold in a depressed economy. That means they’re fundamentally unprepared for what it’s going to take to sell in this environment.”  Instead of offering discounts to econ-shocked customers, offer to lock in their rates for a couple of years: “Services that focus on giving that protection to the customers will ultimately be more successful in this economy.”

Becky Stemmons, 35
Director of business development, Strategic Programs Inc., Denver

What she does: Handles the Midwest region, including Colorado, for a company that provides data research and data assessment for use in employee retention, exit interviews and personnel issues. Client industries include health care, trucking, hospitality, financial services, telecommunications and government.

Background: Stemmons’ sales volume for 2007 was slightly more than $1 million; she topped that in 2008 by hitting $1.25 million in early December.

Sales success: Convincing a third-generation family-owned trucking company that had never been open to outsourcing to buy employee-engagement surveys and exit-interview products from Strategic Programs.

Sales tips: “My approach to sales is just put your head down and work. What I do is very consultative, but it’s also a numbers game. If I get enough in my pipeline, I’ll be successful.”

Recession survival: “We’re looked at as one of those more expendable niceties, so we’re trying to position ourselves as a metric that companies can use to make better decisions.”

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Adnan Gazibara, 30
Head of international and domestic sales for Product Architects Inc., makers of Polar Bottles, Boulder

What he does: Develops new sales and distribution accounts for Polar Bottles, insulated water bottles for sports and outdoor use.

Background: Gazibara was 17 and spoke no English when he arrived in Boulder in 1995 from Bosnia. His uncle had settled in Boulder two years earlier. Gazibara worked at Product Architects while attending college, paid for by his employer. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 2003 with a degree in desktop publishing and then began working to expand the company’s domestic and international accounts. His older brother, Nechko, works as a designer at Product Architects.

Sales stats: Gazibara amassed personal sales of $2 million in 2007, and through mid-December he was on track to more than double that in 2008. Since he began working more directly with distribution five years ago, Polar Bottles’ export business has more than tripled, from 10 countries to more than 30.

Recession-survival tip: “Try as hard as you can every day. I never give up. I came to this country knowing no English and tried my best, and look where I am right now. Especially in these economic times, I’m still doing good. I don’t look in one direction. If one way doesn’t work, try another way. There’s always another road to get to point B.”

Dan Flanagan, 37
Vice president of business development, BluSKY Restoration Contractors Inc., Centennial

What he does: Oversees a team of real estate restoration and capital improvement professionals that support the sales effort.

Background: BluSKY generated $9.6 million in revenues in 2007. Sales for 2008 were projected at $15.2 million.

Tough sales: “This year (2008), we were invited by a long-term customer to bid on a multifamily community improvement project that took sales legwork to a whole new level. This particular project is valued at approximately $1.7 million, and involved making significant plumbing improvements to more than 400 residential apartment homes. On behalf of the client, we worked closely with Aurora City officials and code inspection teams to jointly review and interpret building code in order for the project to move forward — on time, and within budget.”

Recession-survival skills: “The client in the aforementioned example is a relationship that I have spent the past six years actively cultivating — supporting client education, celebrating client career growth and taking service to a new level, regardless of project size. This particular customer has been the source of nearly $5 million in business. Although six years may seem like a long sales cycle, the result is a trust and confidence in working together that is forged over time and many individual projects, and that return on investment is priceless.”

David G. Huelskamp, 57
Senior vice president/business development, Merrick & Co., Aurora

What he does: Manages a sales and marketing team responsible for closing $85 million in business annually for the Aurora-based firm that specializes in engineering, architecture, construction management and related disciplines.

Pressure cooker: The average price tag to merely bid on the larger projects that Merrick chases is $50,000. Thus, “coming home from the hunt empty-handed too many times has serious consequences,” noted the nomination submitted for Huelskamp.

Background: Huelskamp’s first assignment upon joining Merrick in 1996 was to grow the company’s Department of Defense business, which that year totaled about $2.5 million. In 2008, Merrick closed more than $25 million in that segment, a 10-fold increase.

Sales tip: “Know your customers’ business better than they do. And don’t forget about them during the slow periods.”

Wendy Bohling, 45
Vice president of sales and marketing, Magpie Healthcare, Denver

What she does: Builds partnerships, streamlines marketing and prospects for Magpie Healthcare, a company that offers technology to improve communication for health-care providers. The company is a year-old spinoff of Magpie Telecom Insiders, a software services business (previously recognized by ColoradoBiz in our “Best Companies to Work for in Colorado” rankings.)

Background: Until November 2008, Bohling was also vice president of sales and marketing for Magpie Telecom Insiders, where she grew sales over three years from $1.2 million to $6 million and brought in 12 new clients over the past two years.

New frontier: “We’re a startup company, so that’s really been a challenge. It comes back to having a real problem to solve. We want to communication-enable health care. To be a little corny, we want to help save lives.”

Sales advice: “Our success and my personal success has been using the attributes you’ve got, which for us is being genuinely interested in creating a partnership with the customer and having them feel like you’re in the boat with them.”

Brett Garfield, 37
Senior account executive, 5280 magazine, Denver

What he does: Sells advertising for a Denver-based lifestyle magazine, with an account focus on travel, money and law categories. Has been with the magazine for seven years.

Background: Garfield’s personal sales volume in 2007 was $1.5 million — his 2008 sales as of early December were $1.8 million. 

Sales challenge: Convincing a dentist skeptical of magazine advertising in general as well as the selection process for 5280’s “Top Dentists” ranking to advertise in the feature after a series of meetings and phone calls.

Recession-survival tips: “For me it’s bringing everything back to the basics of selling. That boils down to four things for me: having a good product to sell regardless of what environment you’re in; having solid relationships that allow you to work through the tough times; powerful tools, access and support to provide customer service to clients; and freedom and trust from management, being empowered to make decisions on my own.”

Chad Sanderson, 35
Account Manager, Spatial Corp., Broomfield

What he does: Manages accounts in the Western U.S. and South America for Spatial Corp., a B-2-B software company with products aimed at software developers in the computer-aided design and simulation markets.

“That includes new-business development, identifying prospects via cold calls, networking, referrals, working through the sales process, technical evaluations and, of course, closing.”

Personal production: Sanderson, who earned an MBA in marketing from Regis University in 2006, generated sales of $1.5 million in 2007, about 10 percent of Spatial’s total. Through mid-December 2008, he was on track for sales of $1.85 million for the year, a 20 percent increase despite the economic downturn.

Sales tip: “It is all about the relationship. In a cold-calling situation, in a new-business-development relationship, in maintaining existing customers, and closing, there are four things that are required: timing; the need on their part; money (they’ve got to have the money to spend); and the relationship. The relationship enables those other three things. Without it, you’re not going to develop new business quickly, you’re not going to close it as quickly, and you’re not going to expand the accounts that you have.”

Jenna Codespoti, 30
Senior sales manager — business travel, Grand Hyatt, Denver

What she does: Manages accounts, brings in new business and builds relationships with business travel customers.

Background: The nine-year sales veteran has worked for Hyatt for seven years. In 2007, she logged $7.43 million in sales; she hit $6.85 million by early December, topping her year-to-date quota during a downturn in the industry.

Sales tips: “I’m very real. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Chicago and just blunt and to the point. I had been in the Los Angeles market for two years doing exactly what I’m doing now, and I’ve been here for over 3 1/2 years. The L.A. and Denver market, you don’t need the fluff. If you’re real, people tend to trust you more.”

Recession survival: “I went through this post-9/11. … I started in August 2001 with Hyatt hotels in sales. You need to get out there. You need to prospect. … The best part, especially for the hospitality industry, is to make sure you’re keeping your current customers happy because those are the ones you’re going to get more of your business from. Make the small relationships that aren’t so intimate more intimate so that you have the opportunity to capture more of the business in the future from these customers.”

Matt Schovel, 50
Commercial sales and development, Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care, Denver

What he does:  Sells lawn, tree and plant-health care, including fertilization, pruning and removal, insect control and disease diagnosis. His primary markets are retail centers, office parks, HOAs, development and construction companies, and municipalities.

Sales stats: Schovel was the first sales rep in Swingle history to sell more than half a million dollars in his first year. Within six years he was the top producer in the company and in his seventh year set a company record with $1.15 million in sales, putting him in the top 1 percent of tree-care sales reps nationally.

How he handles a “no”: “Never take a ‘no’ personally. Make sure you are dealing with the right decision maker and find out why they are saying no. Use a ’no’ for a future contact. It can become a ’yes’ if you handle it right.”

Recession-survival tip: “Use a down economy as a time to solidify your relationships. Let your client know we are going through this together and we will come out of it together. People remember those who help them through hard times.”

Advice for sales reps: “Read, read, read. Reading and listening to books on CD generates new ideas and helps you think outside of the box.”

Vince Collins, 45
Senior account manager, ProtoTest, Centennial

What he does: Sells for a small consulting firm that focuses on quality assurance and testing in the software market.

Background: Collins, who has been in sales for 23 years and with ProtoTest for two, had sales volume in 2007 of $384,393. His year-to-date sales as of early December were $1.3 million.

Sales challenge: Securing a contract with ProLogis to solve a problem with a software application after convincing the warehousing company  to choose ProtoTest over a competitor.

Recession-survival Tip: “We are finding good luck in keeping on the same path that we had been. We had a really hard-working year, and that diligence has paid off. The technology space within Colorado seems to be going pretty strong. We keep knocking on wood and hoping that ripple effect doesn’t come through.”

Sales tip: “We have a tremendous focus on quality, since it’s our business. …We constantly survey clients and the consultants that we work with to see if there is any way we can improve.”

Brett Larson, 40
Vice president/sales, Statera, Englewood

What he does: Manages the sales force and assists with sales campaigns and sales generation for Statera, an IT consulting firm. He leads Statera’s development efforts in the small- and mid-sized markets.

Sales stats: Larson has been Statera’s top sales executive for 11 straight quarters. His sales have totaled more than $25 million the
past three years.

Recession-survival tip: “Staying very positive, staying focused and continuing to bring consistent, positive energy is what keeps you riding through tough times. Avoid the doldrums of hearing and reading all the negative news. When we started this organization seven years ago, our revenues were zero dollars, right?”

Following his own advice: “Today I learned that we would have won a project that the (prospective client) cancelled. I’m actually taking that as a positive. Projects like that can come back. Maybe it’s not today, but it’s four months from today. So I’m staying focused on making sure I’m in front of those clients and letting them know I want to earn their business even when the business isn’t there.”

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Kris Schroeder, 37
Territory manager, Milgard Windows & Doors, Aurora

What he does: Sells Milgard windows and doors to dealers that include home-remodeling companies, lumber yards and glass shops.

Company snapshot: Milgard Windows & Doors started as a glass company in Tacoma, Wash., in 1958
and diversified into windows three years later. It has 15 manufacturing plants nationwide.

Sales stats: Schroeder has been with Milgard for 14 years and has been the company’s top-producing salesperson nationwide three times. Through mid-December he was on track to sell $3 million worth of windows for 2008.

Recession-survival tip: “I always try to keep three times my desired sales goals in my pipeline. And remember, some will buy, some won’t … so what next!”

Troy Lerner, 32
Co-founder and director, The Booyah Agency, Westminster

What he does: Prospects for new clients, including “being out on the street as an expert and talking about what people can do with online marketing.”

Sales stats: Personal sales volume of $1.86 million in 2007 and projected sales of $2.1 million in 2008.

Most challenging sale: “Convincing the founders of Booyah Networks that they should start an online ad agency and let me run it.” They listened, and with Lerner in 2005 they launched The Booyah Agency, an online advertising boutique, as a business unit of Booyah Networks. “Today we are arguably the leading online agency in the Rocky Mountain region (named the fastest-growing agency in the U.S. by Inc. magazine in 2006).”

Sales secret: “I think I’m successful because I say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes.’ We’ve found, particularly in a down economy, that it’s really important to have projects that are going to stick and projects we’re going to be successful with. Saying yes to anything that shows up on the doorstep, that’s a recipe to end up with a project that you’re going to be pulling your hair out about.”

Recession-survival tip: “We’re trying to really be picky about what we take on. It’s not because we think we’re so great, it’s just because we don’t think we can afford to make many mistakes.” 

Shirley Watson, 63
Realtor for Coldwell Residential Brokerage, Fort Collins/Loveland/Windsor

What she does: The 28-year real estate veteran represents buyers and sellers in the residential home market in northern Colorado. She has been with Coldwell Banker for 21 years.

Background: As of early December, Watson logged sales of $24.7 million, within reach of her 2007 sales of $25.4 million.

Tough sales: Estate sales and sales spurred by life-changing events tend to be the most challenging since emotions play a larger role in the decision-making process.

Sales acumen: “I always treat others the way I would like to be treated if I was in their situation.”
Survival tip: “You have to maintain a positive attitude. …There’s a way to do everything. … Without a clear head and rational approach, many deals that could have closed fall apart because of a lack of seeing the big picture and keeping our eye on the goal at hand.”


Mike Lash, 43
President and senior account executive, Denver Advertising, Englewood

What he does: “I’m the one who brings in most of the business for the agency. My main job is to make sure our clients are successful in any of their advertising campaigns, whether it be getting (listed) first on Google, or a direct-mail campaign, or a re-branding of a company.”

Survival tip: ”We’ve been around 17 years. I think the key to our success is, we don’t discriminate. We’ve got clients who are spending 800 bucks with us; we’ve also had them spend way over six figures. We don’t care, we’re here to help.”

Recent success story: ”One of our smallest clients, we did a little brochure for him; it was probably a $700 deal, including printing. And he came back and is going to spend $60,000 next year. Sometimes it’s just rewarding to know that they had success at a small level and we were part of that. A lot of agencies want all the big boys, and the truth is, we want those, too, but those elephants can be brutal on you. I kind of like the middle of the road where the owner’s got the vision and we have a similar vision.”

Sales tip: “Never sell price. You’ll be looking for work every six months. Become a partner, not just a vendor. When the client invites you into their personal life, you know you are doing a great job. We had a client fly in to go to Vail for the weekend; he needed oxygen to enjoy his stay. Even though we are an ad agency, within 24 hours we found him some O2 and personally delivered it. How committed do you think he was to our agency after that?”

Merv Leaman, 66
Advance planning counselor, Horan & McConaty funeral services, Aurora

What he does: Works with families to make advance funeral arrangements for themselves or loved ones.

Background: Leaman joined Horan & McConaty in June 2006 with no professional experience in the field, but some personal experience: the illness of his daughter and her eventual death five years ago. “That’s kind of what stimulated my interest. I think it has enhanced my ability to relate to families on these issues. It’s been a really good experience for me.”

Production note: Through mid-December, Leaman was on track to surpass the company’s single-season sales mark.

Sales tip: “I try not to be presumptuous of people as to what it is they need or don’t need. I let them know right up front that my objective is to help them accomplish theirs. Sure, I have things in my mind that I believe are good for them, but I try to let them, in a dialogue, uncover those things themselves so they feel like it is their decision, not my decision imposed on them.”

Mark Kuta Jr., 49
Worldwide director of sales and marketing, Fiber SenSys, Denver

What he does: Directs sales efforts for a fiber-optic perimeter defense manufacturer, which Kuta refers to as “high-tech homeland security.”

Background: The 20-year sales veteran is the author of the recently released book, “Think Like a CEO — Sell to Any Company in Any Industry … Better and Faster than a Harvard MBA.” He generated $6.5 million in software and $1 million in services sales in 2007 and hit $20 million for 2008 by early December.

Sales tips: “It’s not about the technology. It’s not about the product features. It’s all about thinking like a CEO, like the guy you’re talking to. … The other guys are pitching their technology, their service or features. You’re there saying, ‘Let’s talk about your business problem and what this is going to do for your operating cash.’”

Sales strategy: Look for companies that operate on a fiscal year schedule — which means you still have time to secure their business for the coming year that for them begins in July. “I’ve really found that these guys are more likely to keep that longer horizon versus the guys who are just ducking until January comes around.”

Tips for these times: Sell how your product is going to save your client some money. “Elvis is dead. Cash is king. Everything even in today’s environment is totally focused to cash. So many sales folks, when they pitch their product, services or whatnot, they’re talking about, ‘It will do this for your productivity; it will do this for your bottom line,’ but I’m saying in today’s environment it all gets down to cash.”

Nora Heitmann, 30
New accounts manager, Forward Logistics Group, Denver

What she does: Forward Logistics Group coordinates custom freight shipping. Its customers range from retailers closing stores that need to move fixtures to a warehouse to manufacturing firms that need to replace a broken part in a hurry and don’t care about the cost. Heitmann joined the company in 2006 when the local branch was founded by some former employees of a freight company that filed for bankruptcy.

By the numbers: As of early December, Heitmann’s 2008 sales volume was more than $2.5 million. Though that’s down from the $3.2 million she tallied in 2007, she remains the No. 1 ranked salesperson in her company — and did it despite being on maternity leave for a few months and coming back to work only two days a week.

Sales tip: “The thing that I’ve done that’s definitely differentiated me from the competition is I don’t really sell on price, especially in this economy when cost is an issue. …What I try to do is carve out a niche in the service we provide where it’s too hard to re-create.”

Yves Lang, 40
Chief sales officer, ENLASO Corp., Boulder

What he does: Leads the sales and marketing teams, promotes enterprise-solution selling and manages many of the largest accounts for ENLASO, a language-services company.

Career snapshot: A 16-year veteran of the translation and localization industry, Lang speaks French, German and English. In 2004 he landed world dating-site leader as a client for ENLASO. The job involved translating websites into 16 languages and customizing the cultural expressions and social relationship values associated with each locale.

Sales secret: “Nobody likes being sold to, but everyone likes to buy.  By focusing on
the people and building rapport on a personal level, it makes you stand out from the competition. Also, the two key words I always keep in mind are patience and persistence.”

Sales Association to host ColoradoBiz Most Powerful SalesPeople event
The Sales Association – Colorado Chapter is hosting an Executive Sales Panel on Feb.11 that will feature three winners from the ColoradoBiz Top 25 Most Powerful Salespeople.

The dinner event takes place at the Courtyard by Marriott — Cherry Creek, 1475 S. Colorado Blvd. Registration and networking begins at 4:45 p.m. For more information and to register, visit

The Sales Association assisted ColoradoBiz with the Top 25 Most Powerful Salespeople program by spreading the word through the association’s e-mail newsletter.

The Sales Association, which has grown to 100 members since launching in April, is a professional group dedicated specifically for sales and business development professionals. The association organizes events where sales professionals can network and exchange ideas and is open to all business and industry sectors.

“Our mission is to provide members a powerful and strategic means to connect with one another, grow professionally, and drive profits within our organizations,” says Troy Davis, president of the association’s Colorado chapter.

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Mike Cote is the editor of ColoradoBiz. Read his blog, "Poppin’ Circumstance," or e-mail him at

Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Read his "Green Giant" blog or e-mail him at

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Well, Jeff your right essentially. They should have hired someone to write these pieces professionally. Catherine is 57 and still writes, "get them to KIND OF" while the rest only tout their monetary stats and not their contribution to their locality on a true PR level. They ought to give their true ages- ALL of them and show how they're really going to make a difference to make any of this viable considering the current economic crisis. It's a shame really. By Star on 2009 08 03
This is a bunch of crap. People tooting their own horn...this really is fluff. By Jeff on 2009 07 17
I have to say that your article on the top salespeople was the worst breakout ever. I’m sure there is more statewide news rather than people that nominated themselves from a new associate with just over 100 people. Overall, you magazine is a good read, but I think you should really reconsider putting garbage about uninteresting self-promoting salespeople whom many are far from the top of their game in this State. I’m off my soap box now… By Jon on 2009 01 07

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