Sales and marketing have always been demanding professions. Every lead and each sale are small victories—but they don’t guarantee the next sale. Only hard work and perseverance keep the sales coming, and each one is another hard-won victory.
But for any company, sales and marketing are what drive organizational growth. These frontline successes enable the company to hire more employees and invest in research or equipment. Strong, effective marketers and salespeople don’t just score wins for themselves, they’re winning for the entire team. So please join us in celebrating our 2018 Sales and Marketer of the Year Award recipients for their impressive feats and track records of success.
Nico Dato says that he’s not afraid to look at traditional marketing channels that are often overlooked by those focused on digital channels. One example of that is his approach to tradeshows. While many software companies attend tradeshows to collect leads, Dato uses them as an opportunity to showcase the product—and to close sales. In fact, it’s not unusual for the Podium team to leave a tradeshow having closed six figures in revenue.
Podium is a rapidly growing company, and Dato’s small marketing team has driven a pipeline for its sales team that resulted in a 600 percent year-over-year increase in 2016.
“Over the course of the last year or two, I’ve been part of a team that’s acquired over 100k users across tens of thousands of businesses,” says Dato. “And I’ve been able to build a team of 15 or so that handles most everything in house. That’s all helped result in us being one of the fastest-growing tech companies around.”
Dato says that these days, marketing can and should touch every area of the business, from pre-sales to post sales to renewal and more. “That means all the interactions that are happening along that process are having some sort of marketing influence. To me that’s pretty amazing and really exciting.”
Jamie Elgie joined Wilson Electronics in April 2015 and, according to Google Trends, the brand of its signature consumer product, weBoost, has grown 130.43 percent since that moment. Elgie also helped drive a net sales growth of 18 percent for the first three quarters of 2017.
In 2017, Wilson Electronics launched several consumer mobile boosters, and Elgie’s team created a compelling brand story for the weBoost brand using inspiring imagery and messaging that resonates with key customers. He also helped increase the performance of the weBoost.com website—using product sales as measurement, its performance increased by 62.9 percent year over year during peak season (May-September).
“Jamie is a true marketing professional who believes in the value of decisions based on hard data,” says CEO Bruce Lancaster. “Throughout the past year, he has continuously demonstrated not only good insight, but the discipline to test those insights and only pursue the ones that work. He does not let his own personal bias set the direction. … Iterate, test, improve is Jamie’s mode of operation that has yielded significant wins for us in our online sales. Because of Jamie’s leadership in marketing, we have seen significant sales growth and improved brand awareness of all of the Wilson Electronics brands including the weBoost brand.”
During his marketing career, Cameron Johnson has developed and directed marketing strategies for both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. One recent client was national lawn care franchise Lawn Doctor. Johnson launched a year-long campaign for Lawn Doctor that, he says, “pushed the assumed boundaries of search marketing.” An unconventional approached paired with in-depth market research helped boost Lawn Doctor’s mobile organic traffic by 78 percent, while organic traffic to the site landing page increased by 1,100 percent. And, crucially, organic online conversions increased by 307 percent. Lawn Doctor is now the top lawn care service provider in Google’s mobile search results.
“All my life I’ve seen myself as being both analytical and creative,” says Johnson. “I chose a career in marketing because it was as a way to showcase both sides of me. I stay in marketing because it allows me to have an impact on the world. Through marketing I can grow companies and change consumers’ perceptions. This makes my work meaningful and exciting.”
During the past year, Johnson has increased internal revenue for his division by 70 percent, making it one of the most profitable teams in the company’s history.
Preston Van Dyke is quick to credit his team of SEO, digital PR and content experts for achieving “a spectacular year growing revenue from organic search by 40+ percent year to date and delivering the most profitable year in the company’s history.”
Van Dyke came to Clearlink after a stint as senior advisor in the Digital Media Division of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to that, he was an SEO manager for SEO.com, where he learned the ins and outs of Google search rankings. At Clearlink, Van Dyke has led SEO efforts that landed 147,540 results of its site on the first page of Google.
The biggest challenge for marketers is simply keeping up with all the technologies, platforms and services that are necessary to build for and integrate with, he says. “As platforms like Google and Facebook become more intelligent about their users’ comprehensive online experiences, it has required a shift to meeting a more robust need than a simple one-time click and purchase. Today’s successful digital marketing strategies think about, plan for and measure the multiple touchpoints a user will engage in with a brand before coming to a purchase conclusion.”
Last year, the marketing team at Edge | The Service Company shifted their efforts to a wholesale digital campaign in order to effectively target potential customers. On top of that, the team assumed control of their pay per click efforts and have been able to generate more leads at a lower cost. In 2016, Edge saw 21,020 leads for the entire year. The marketing team was trending well above that for 2017 and projected they’d hit over 31,000 leads for the year.
Additionally, the marketing team created an online campaign, “The Best Services For Your World,” to bolster customer engagement. With the use of email, social media and video, the campaign promoted Edge’s services as a necessity in making their customers’ world a better and a more beautiful place to be.
“There are so many pest control companies out there and the industry has been doing things the same way for so long, and at times that can make it difficult to break that mold,” says Tyler Murdock, marketing manager for Edge | The Service Company. “In the service industry, most of the time, in order to get a quote you have to actually talk to somebody. The challenge is that you can’t just buy online, but we have found innovative ways to change this and are currently developing and implementing even more.”
Photo caption: Top row (l-r): John Bills, Morgan Nalley; bottom row (l-r): Daniel O’Donnal, John Morrey, Tyler Murrdock, Natalie Lainhart
When Isaac Butler first joined My Hearing Centers, the company had only two offices. Butler started off selling hearing aids directly to consumers, enabling him to learn customer wants and needs—information he took with him as he ascended to vice president of sales. He now manages, recruits and trains the company’s sales team, and assists in strategy and pricing.
“I have always been a hard worker. In sales, you get what you put in. I realized I could make a great living as long as I was willing to put in the effort,” says Butler. “I find sales very challenging. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt.”
Butler has enjoyed a major role in helping My Hearing Centers go from those first two offices to nearly 50 now in eight states, and his sales team has grown from six in 2012 to now 47.
“We have been able to grow our business by 60 percent in the past year. We didn’t just grow by adding more people and offices, but by becoming more productive per provider,” says Butler. “One challenge is that every month is a new month and it can be a mental grind. One reward is that you are in control of your own destiny.”
Paul Grant may have just completed his first year as chief revenue officer for MarketStar Corp., but he’s managed to accomplish a great deal in that short amount of time. Grant has motivated his sales team by creating a positive environment, fostering team camaraderie, created a nurturing and goal-oriented review process—and as a result, has seen his team achieve a close rate that is 95 percent higher than industry average. He is also a part of MarketStar’s executive committee, assisting in strategy development for the company, and serves as executive sponsor of MarketStar Cares, where he takes part in giving back to the community.
With Grant at the helm, 40 percent of MarketStar’s business development team reached their quota by Q3 of 2017. Grant and his team have delivered 235 percent year-over-year growth from net-new brand revenue in 2017 as well—and some of those net-new brands now in MarketStar’s portfolio include Pinterest, eBay, Samsung, Wish, Glassdoor and Evernote.
“The sands of the sales and business development environment are ever shifting. I find the dynamic nature and consistent forced-learning factor of this particular craft to be invigorating and challenging,” says Grant. “That constant change keeps me motivated to push further, dig deeper and explore new things almost every day.”
Usually, the best business decision and the easiest—or fastest—decision are two different things. For John Harris, taking quiet time every morning to think about strategy, tactics and messaging helps him ensure he’s making the best possible decision for EnerBank USA—and for its customers. Throughout his career, Harris says he’s loved creating a culture where “we over promise and outperform—consistently exceeding the expectations of both internal and external constituencies.”
His achievements include leading EnerBank from $50 million to over $900 million in annual sales over the past 10 years, increasing the annual number of booked loans from 7,196 (2004) to 95,747 (2016) and increasing the monthly site traffic over 450 percent from 2013 to 2016. He also created a more specialized marketing team to leverage digital channels and increase touch points with clients as the competition in EnerBank’s market increases.
“By year-end, we will have helped over three quarters of a million homeowners throughout the U.S. over the past 14 years complete projects to realize their home improvement dreams,” says Harris. “Today, my marketing and sales teams know more about their clients and potential clients, their buying behavior, their current and potential trends, and through this enhanced intelligence are empowered to drive results that will continue to place EnerBank as a market leader.”
In order to be happy in his career, David Jones says he must always have two roles within his position: a core role and an innovation role. At Vivint Smart Home, Jones finds fulfillment with both roles by managing the group of sales leaders that run the day-to-day operations (his core role) and by finding ways to streamline the sales rep onboarding process (his innovation role).
Jones has excelled in both roles throughout his career. He spearheaded a partnership with the Vivint IT team to develop a customer acquisition program called Street Genie, which eliminates paperwork from the onboarding process and allows sales professionals to set up a new customer in just 15 minutes. When Vivint partnered with Best Buy in 2017, Jones’ team created Retail Genie to support what Jones calls the first interactive retail experience for smart homes.
Under Jones’ leadership, Vivint’s customer growth has nearly doubled. He helped the company see $758 million in revenue in 2016 and lowered overall costs by $15 million annually.
“Having a direct impact on revenue makes sales professionals influential in the decision-making of a company. You are in position to make a big difference,” he says. “Being this close to revenue also makes for a consistently changing and challenging environment, which isn’t a comfortable place for some. I find it highly motivating.”
“You can’t fake sales,” says Gabe Larsen. “There is always a number and you might try and come up with excuses, but when it comes down to it, it’s your number and your responsibility.”
Using science to help companies achieve greater sales numbers—and to train other sales reps to replicate his own success—is what Larsen is all about. He started at InsideSales.com when the sales team was only four people, closing the company’s first six-figure deal. But he went on from InsideSales.com to Accenture, Goldman Sachs and Gallup (where he opened the company’s Saudi Arabia office) to broaden his experiences and skill set before returning to InsideSales.com in 2013.
Since his return, Larsen developed a consultative sales approach that utilizes a benchmarking and assessment blueprint. In his first year, Larsen and his team used the strategy to close $300,000 in sales; in his second year, that number leapt to $1.2 million. He also created the Playmaker podcast, which averages 15,000 listeners each month and has generated millions of dollars in pipeline for the company.
His current venture, InsideSales Labs training—“Netflix for sales people,” he calls it—is a self-service learning portal for sales representatives and mangers.
“The reason I remain in sales is because I can’t get away from it. Sales is in everything I do,” says Larsen.
To Joe Wright, the qualities of a successful salesperson aren’t always what people expect. “I firmly believe that all kinds of different people can be successful in sales,” he says. “Many people have preconceived notions about what type of personality is required to be a successful salesperson. The reality, however, is that customers appreciate those that listen and provide solutions. This is a skill that most anyone can develop.”
Those qualities are particularly necessary for Wright’s position as president, international, for Merit Medical Systems. Selling in international markets provides unique challenges, says Wright, and requires creativity, flexibility and the understanding that some things—like fluctuating global market conditions—are out of one’s control. Wright has opened Merit Medical System to several new markets, including Merit China in Beijing, Merit Asia in Hong Kong, as well as offices in Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Vietnam and New Zealand. He manages a division of over 200 employees and sales over $150 million. Over the last 10 years, he has delivered sales growth with a combined annual growth rate of 22 percent.
“I enjoy interacting with people, understanding customer needs and then presenting solutions. Medical devices help address the needs of clinicians, but also the needs of patients in need of care, which is very fulfilling,” says Wright.
It’s no secret that Utah’s slopes call to skiers of all ages. But last year, Ski Utah took that truth to a whole new level. California resident George Jedenoff has been coming to Utah to hit the slopes every year since 1960, when he first learned to ski at the age of 43—the best decision he ever made, he proudly says. Ski Utah first heard of Jedenoff in 2013, when Jedenoff was 95, and a friendship between the elderly skier and the members of Ski Utah was born. Each year, Ski Utah made a video of Jedenoff skiing, through which he became an inspiration to the skiing community through his obvious love of the sport.
When Jedenoff was approaching his centennial, Ski Utah knew they had to do something special to mark the occasion. The organization arranged interviews with several industry media outlets beforehand to spread the news. Despite his birthday being in early July, Ski Utah, along with a host of news crews, went up to a high-up patch of snow at Snowbird, carefully groomed for the event, and filmed Jedenoff making a summertime run at one of his favorite resorts. You can see Jedenoff’s 100th birthday run on YouTube, where the video has amassed thousands of views.
Integrated Marketing Campaign
Zion National Park has breathtaking vistas and excellent hiking—and a growing number of visitors to match. But as federal funding for its support and upkeep remained stagnant, the Zion National History Association sought outside help. The ZNHA enlisted Love Communications to help build a brand that would communicate the park’s and the association’s priorities: sustainability, education, preservation and visitor experience.
The rebranding included a three-pronged effort to help people and businesses understand the challenges the park was facing, first by helping them see the problem, then by prompting them to think about how “impactful stewardship” of the park benefits the community as a whole, and finally by spurring people into action because of the “significant responsibility” to the cause and the rewards for doing it. Although the campaign’s goals are stretched out over the course of years—for example, the effort to raise $5 million by the park’s centennial in 2019—early results have been encouraging. At a single event in Salt Lake City, donors committed a collective $600,000 to support the park. New signage and collateral at the Zion National Park visitor’s center also helps convey the message to visitors, and all donations and proceeds from sales at the store go toward the project.
Content Marketing Campaign
After a 15-year partnership between United Way of Salt Lake and Love Communications, the two decided it was time for a change of message. The new campaign was specifically geared toward a “non-United Way” audience, including millennials and those outside of the nonprofit organization’s database, with an eye for raising awareness and education, as well as eventually bringing in more donors and volunteers. The result was “It Starts With You,” a campaign that approached that audience online from multiple fronts, including native content, and paid email, video and web banners.
“It Starts With You” was nothing like Love Communications had ever before crafted for a client. The campaign featured a series of five monthly “stories,” each telling and showing a different aspect of United Way’s work. Every story took about 10 days to produce, including shooting, editing and integrating it into native content, and the project took on the feel of a newsroom, rather than an advertising agency. But the message resonated with the audience: the paid advertisements netted 85 million impressions and a CTR rate of .14 percent—seven times higher than the original benchmark. Native advertising also performed strongly, with 73 million impressions, 44,000 clicks and 38,367 page views.
Best Use of Video
In 2017, Traeger Grills released a series of short snappy videos and utilized social media hype, native social advertising and an epic live launch of the company’s new Timberline grill on the Traeger website and Facebook page. In return, it got an 82 percent increase in web traffic, a 55 percent increase in web sales, and its newly released grill sold out within 24 hours.
As impressive as the results were, they were the culmination of a long process of finding what customers wanted and crafting the perfect way to deliver it to them. Company representatives spoke to customers about what they wanted in a wood-pellet grill that they didn’t currently have, then asked professional chefs and award-winning “pit-masters” the same thing. They took that feedback to a panel of engineers to help implement those features into the new model. A three-part video highlighting the new features and telling the story surrounding the redesign stoked customer interest, readying the company for its big reveal. Those videos got 350,000 views on launch day alone and have amassed well over a million views in the months since.
Digital Marketing Campaign
At the beginning of 2017, Landmark Home Warranty set some ambitious goals: to save 10,000 labor hours and company time through automation and by driving more people to the website to order and renew; to track and report marketing-generated revenue and orders; and to optimize its new website, which launched January 2017. To do this, the company created a multi-faceted digital campaign, including email automation, content marketing, social media and advertising.
The email automation alone helped tick off the first goal, with nearly 11,000 labor hours saved by using Marketo, an email and automation manager. Landmark sent almost 2 million emails during 2017 through its various Marketo email campaigns. The company’s new mobile-friendly website had updated keyword research and implementation and featured new content, including articles geared toward homeowners and real estate agents. Comparing traffic from 2016, the website has seen an increase of overall website sessions of 5.82 percent and organic search sessions of 13.73 percent. Sessions through social channels also rose 25.79 percent. Landmark also decided to re-introduce the use of Facebook advertising. After seven months of advertising on that platform, Landmark generated 1,667 orders, increasing orders from Facebook Ads by 288 percent compared to 2016.
Social Media Campaign
In 2017, workplace culture giant O.C. Tanner branched out of its long-standing invite-only executive retreat, launching its first-ever user summit. Its speaker line up featured a string of well-known names, including Captain Chelsey B. “Sully” Sullenberger, Patty McCord and Robyn Benincasa, as well as industry legends and HR experts. Getting the word out about this inaugural event was a challenge all on its own. The company used a multi-faceted approach that included organic and paid advertising, including a series of “meet our speakers” blog and social media posts, introducing O.C .Tanner’s audience to the lineup.
The paid speaker posts performed extremely well on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and had a total reach of more than 42,600 with almost 500 combined clicks. O.C. Tanner also created a blog post for potential attendees detailing what to expect from the event, including what attendees could do around Salt Lake City during, before and after the event. The Influence Greatness event sold out weeks in advance. During the event itself, O.C. Tanner continued to promote connectivity between its social media channels and attendees. Between its posts and attendees’ use of the hashtag #Greatness17, O.C. Tanner saw record social media engagement, particularly on Twitter, where it saw a spike of 214.1 percent.