The Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) was the first entity to recognize companies and organizations for sales and business development excellence. Many marketing teams nominate their companies for awards such as the Inc. 500/5000 or community service awards. They may also recognize high achieving executives.

When the IES first launched the award event in 2011, we noted that there are more than enough award events to go around. There’s the Fast 50; a handful of CFO of the year awards; and a couple of best places to work awards. We used to joke there was even the Mediocre 20.  Even so, each year we receive dozens of submissions for our award.  It’s satisfying to review the interesting and compelling sales enablement programs that are submitted for consideration.

I was curious if winning an award such as the above helps companies be more attractive for new recruits.

Sales Categories for the Nominations

On June 3, the (IES) will proffer its sixth annual Sales Excellence Awards in five categories that recognize corporate or enterprise sales operational excellence. Since 2011, the IES has recognized 96 companies and organizations for excellence in enterprise and corporate selling.

Past recipients include sales leaders Cisco, Learning Tree, JK Moving, Deltek, Carahsoft, Wedding Wire, Cvent, and many others. The IES has also recognized fast-growing and interesting smaller firms as well in five categories:

  • Excellence in Sales Training
  • Sales Innovation
  • Sales Management
  • Customer Partnering
  • Strategic Alliances.

As we put out the solicitations for this year’s nominees, I asked two past winners about the value they received after being recognized with a sales excellence award.  The IES has become an established resource for sales training, which has allowed us to interface with hundreds of sales leaders and teams each year.  We are very cognizant of the challenges they face every day including the following:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Giving them the tools they need to be successful
  • Inspiring them on a daily basis
  • Helping them grow their careers
  • Managing a seasoned sales force in challenging economic times

Recognition Shows We Give the Sales Team What They Need

Mark LaFleur has been a sales leader at Learning Tree International, Omega Performance, and a few start-ups. Learning Tree was one of our first award winners back in 2011 when Mark was at the helm. His team was also nominated when he was leading sales at Omega Performance, a company that helps banks train their people to be more customer-centric and sales focused. Last June, Mark was named VP of Sales at LiveSafe, one of the DC region’s fastest growing and most innovative young companies.

Mark said that hiring great people has been one of the top three sales managerial challenges throughout his career during good times and bad times alike. Great sales people, he said, are always in high demand so a company needs to show them that they are committed to their success and will provide the environment for them to be successful.

Mark said getting confirmation through an award that his company provided a supportive environment for the sales professional was very important in his recruiting efforts.

“Although I believe Sales is the most important function in any company, sales people are not always given what they need to be successful and don’t always feel that the company supports them,” he said. “Marketing may not provide the best tools nor air cover. Compensation may be under the industry norm or on-going training may not be available. If any of these, and many others, are not supporting the sales team, an above average rep will know that and will be hesitant to come on board.”

LaFleur said he prominently displayed the Sales Management award Learning Tree won in 2011 near his desk. “Whenever a candidate made it to the second interview, I was sure to point it out,” he said. “This was evidence that we do what we can to support our sales team. I can then talk about the things we do to support their sales efforts to help them achieve a greater level of success.”

Showing How Leading Edge Sales Techniques Improved Sales Rep Performance

Gary Milwit runs the sales program at StoneStreet and was recognized by the IES in 2015 for Excellence in Sales Training. A former football coach, Milwit implemented a training/coaching program that would continuously provide feedback to the sales team, address deficiencies as they occurred, recognize excellence as soon as possible and disseminate best practices throughout the team. StoneStreet was recognized for its use of technology in the sales training process. They deployed Team Visibility (now called ExecVision) software to help coach and train the sales team, which was comprised mainly of young, fresh out of college sales newbies.

Milwit said that the use of technology allowed StoneStreet to align its training and business processes. The company implemented twice weekly small group training sessions, where 7 or 8 sales people, led by a sales manager, conducted an in-depth analysis of the sales calls using the TeamVisibility software platform. These 45 minutes ‘Socratic’ sessions allow the team members to learn from each other (peer-to-peer coaching), share their own experiences with similar type of calls and absorb the expectations of the sales leaders.

“Recognition by the IES judges of our approach gave our sales team members confidence that they were working for a company that was committed to their success,” said Milwit. “Although they always felt empowered by the training we provided, seeing that we received industry recognition for it was a boost.”

Nominations are Open Through April 18 for Sales Excellence

The award event itself is a great, festive affair. Typically nearly 300 sales leaders and C-level execs attend each year. Our emcee for the past few years has been sales expert Ian Altman with GrowMyRevenue. He does a great job inspiring and entertaining the crowd. We also recognize one notable sales leader each year that has demonstrated a lifetime of sales excellence. In the past, we’ve recognized leaders at NetApp, Cisco, IBM and Oracle. This year we’ll be recognizing the leaders of immixGroup, which is now part of Arrow Electronics: Art Richer, Steve Charles and Jeff Copeland.

If your company is doing something exceptional in any of the five categories mentioned above, you should consider nominating your company for an IES Sales Excellence Award. Go to the nominations page by clicking here and take advantage of this valued recruitment tool.