Utah Business SAMY Awards
Utah Business’ annual SAMY Awards recognize Utah’s top sales and marketing talent—professionals who have had a measurable impact on their company’s bottom line. Meet the 2016 honorees:
For Ken Anderson, a career in sales is a constant—but rewarding—challenge.
“A tremendous amount of strategic thought, planning and intellectual focus goes into every potential sale. Markets can be fickle and volatile, which presents a broad range of challenges and potential outcomes,” he says. “The ability to navigate through the challenges while focusing on generating revenue on a daily basis takes incredible skill and mental toughness. The sales profession is not for the faint of heart.”
But it was the challenge and the demand—and opportunity—to continuously learn and adapt that drew Anderson to sales, and have kept him there for more than 18 years. In his current role as vice president for sales and business development, Anderson is focused on developing new product distribution networks internationally, as well as Department of Defense operations, and automobile and light rail manufacturers and maintenance organizations. Anderson says he likes the effort-to-reward correlation of the industry.
“The more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it—sales is very unique in that way,” he says. “The reality is that good salespeople are focused on helping people solve their business problems. When you focus on serving others, people naturally gravitate towards you and want to do business with you.”
Brent Dover didn’t mean to end up in a career in sales, but that’s where his penchant for problem-solving led him.
“I love to help people solve their problems, and when my company does that, selling is the most rewarding thing in the world. The most satisfying part of sales is following up with our clients throughout their relationship with our company and observing the great success they have achieved as a result of our partnership,” he says. “This keeps me focused on sales—even though I never imagined my career would be sales related.”
Dover fell into sales while trying to resolve customer complaints at another company more than two decades ago. It taught him an early lesson: “Focus on solving client problems, truly be an advocate for advancing the interests of your clients before the interests of your company or yourself, and sales will naturally happen,” he says.
He has taken those lessons to heart throughout his career and says that way of doing business is one of the reasons Health Catalyst is growing at such an astounding rate—in 2013, Dover’s first year at the company, sales contracts totaled $46 million, up from $9 million the year before; in 2015, the total was on track to exceed $175 million.
While moving up the company ladder early in his career, Jon Florence learned the next step would mean venturing into the world of sales. With the help of a mentor and a penchant for learning on the fly, Florence found he thrived in the new field.
Beyond the typical rewards of sales, commissions and bonuses, Florence says he’s found huge value in the interpersonal relationships he’s made with coworkers and clients. “The friendships I have made with other salesman both within my company and customers that I have worked with will last a lifetime,” he says.
In 2011, he joined Xima Software and has relished the challenge of overseeing a team in his role of sales manager. The most exciting thing about sales is the endless challenges to overcome and explore.
“Sales has an unlimited ceiling, and the only obstacles blocking your potential are those which you allow to block your goals. Sales allows continuous challenges that are constantly changing, and I enjoy the challenge of overcoming these obstacles while growing as a person, having fun during the process, and unlocking my full potential,” he says.
If you ever need someone to tell you how different sales and marketing are, ask Sandra Nielsen. And if you ever need someone to tell you how similar they can be, well, Nielsen’s a good one to ask for that, too.
In the middle of a career of marketing and communications, Nielsen was drafted to fill in as head of sales. Despite believing it was a temporary position—and being overwhelmed at the prospect—it’s a job Neilsen has grown to love over the past 16 months.
“I love to help people ‘understand,’ which is why I was drawn to marketing communications early in my work life. Selling is simply another avenue for communicating with people,” she says.
Nielsen has found a passion for helping rural hospitals understand the benefits of Great Basin Scientific products, and believes in the benefits they offer. When making a sale, listening and seeking to understand are key.
“Find out what’s actually behind the ‘no.’ Maybe they don’t understand what you have to offer them and are reacting to fear of the unknown. Helping a person feel comfortable and safe in their decision is key,” she says. “And sometimes you have to know when to gracefully accept the ‘no.’”
A flexible schedule and the opportunity to make more than an hourly wage led Vess Pearson to sales—and the pest control industry. After spending summers during college selling pest control, Pearson planned to go to law school, but his goal changed when Alterra’s now-CEO David Royce invited him to help build the company.
Ten years later, Pearson is focusing on finding the best recruits nationwide for the door-to-door sales he once did, as well as crafting services and approaches that help those salesmen—and the company—succeed. The satisfaction that comes from overcoming rejection and helping turn a no into a yes by listening and crafting a customer-specific approach have kept Pearson interested and engaged in the industry.
“The challenge with working in sales is that you have to be absolutely determined. If you’re not winning new customers and internal talent, it’s safe to assume someone else is and that they will earn the business. Knowing that can be exhausting, but it’s also something that drives me,” he says.
A lifelong plan to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pilot took a detour and sent John Reagh soaring instead with a career in sales.
Reagh, vice president of sales for Experticity, has worked internationally and touched down at several hot companies, including Siebel Systems, the fastest software company to reach $1 billion pre-Google, in his 20-year career. Reagh’s current focus is on crafting the processes that will help members of his team be more successful and efficient. Part of that means hiring the right people and managing, training and empowering them correctly, he says.
“Accurately forecasting when and how potential and upcoming revenue will close is a critical part of building a predicable business,” he says. “Our team frequently is looking for better ways to accomplish goals and new ways to attack challenges.”
Reagh, who did eventually earn his pilot’s license, says the key to being good at sales is the same thing that helps a person become good in any profession: passion, dedication and hard work. “Successful people are always learning and working to improve on their skills, searching for new and better methods to be better at their craft. They consistently invest time in practicing and improving the basic fundamentals,” he says. “They are not afraid to be measured because it is through measurement that they can see for themselves that they are achieving the goals they continually set for themselves.”
At 7 years old, Patrick Scott got his first job: a paper route. That gig set Scott on a path that, while perhaps unconventional—it includes such pit stops as EMT, produce buyer, surgical technician and food broker—inexorably led to a fast-paced career in sales. The secret to Scott’s success, no matter what he’s selling, he says, is to view a pitch as a conversation.
“Selling is not convincing someone they need your product, it is more an open collaboration of how your product/service can support their needs and requirements,” he says.
Scott has found there is always opportunity in failure to improve his game. “Listening and understanding from a past customer that had experienced poor support, and providing fact-based solutions to attain another opportunity,” he says. “Regression analysis often provides future opportunities.”
Teamwork is also vital in finding sales success, he says. Scott has been involved with Kaddas’ growth in the Central and South American markets, and things are looking bright for the Asian and Arabic markets, too. Those gains wouldn’t be possible without support from government and community economic development groups, he says.
A summer job selling alarm systems ruined hourly jobs forever for Anthony VanDyke. When he got back, he dropped out of college and went straight into mortgages, and hasn’t blinked since—despite its unique challenges.
“Sales can be a roller coaster. It’s paying rent and groceries on credit cards one month to splurging and buying a Harley Davidson for cash the next. At the beginning, the mentality of the ups and downs were hard for me and saving for the downs was a challenge,” VanDyke says.
VanDyke has found success in sticking to the basics and being held accountable for the things that need to get done—and it’s worked. From 2014 to 2015, VanDyke increased his sales closures by more than 200 percent, and the company as a whole has recently seen an increase of nearly 400 percent in past customer referrals.
“Never take your foot off the gas. Prospect consistently no matter what,” he says. “If you do you will have consistent sales twice the amount of your peers as you are prospecting twice as much as your peers who take their foot off the gas for half the year.”
The yin and yang between the creative and technical aspects of marketing drew Brett Barlow into the profession.
“It’s incredible how these two elements work in such perfect harmony in a marketing setting to help shape brand perceptions, develop company storylines and reach consumers through campaigns,” he says.
The advent of digital communication has made marketing more empowered, as campaigns that once would have taken weeks or months to be released can now hit the internet almost immediately, allowing marketers to see how effective it is. “We’re able to pour gas on those things that are successful, and quickly pump the breaks on those that aren’t meeting our goals,” he says.
Things are moving fast at Pluralsight, too—the company numbered just seven employees when he came aboard, but has swelled from 30 to more than 500 employees over the last couple of years. With growth like that, Barlow says, they’ve taken pains to preserve the essence of the workforce.
“I’m very proud to be part of a leadership team that values company culture and throughout the change has been able to maintain the core culture of being truth seekers, entrepreneurs and eternal optimists,” he says.
Over the last couple of decades, Jared Fitch has helped conceive, launch and grow nine startups, and helped hundreds of companies and millions of customers across dozens of industries and on six continents find joy in better engagement marketing and design.
In addition to his on-the-job training, Fitch has also taken to heart experiences from his education in mass communications and marketing at the University of Utah, both in the classroom and out—a short film he made and entered into the student film festival was awarded Best in Show.
All that experience gives Fitch a rich background from which to draw inspiration and lessons learned in dozens of facets of his job, ranging from architecture, interior design and residential community planning to brand building, creative direction, consumer product design, user and market research, television and film production, and software product design. That all comes in handy for Fitch in his current role, overseeing all branding and marketing initiatives and leading a group of equally talented creators and marketers for Vivint Solar.
It takes a good bit of creativity to make any health plan look sexy, but that’s exactly what the HealthEquity marketing team did with high deductible plans for their clients.
“Health insurance and health savings accounts can be complex and difficult to navigate, but the HealthEquity marketing team has taken this dry and complicated subject matter and given it a fun and approachable personality. The team has done so by creating interesting, out-of-the-box ways to communicate benefits information,” says Cody Dingus, vice president of marketing for HealthEquity.
Dingus helped grow the team from four members three years ago to 13 today, working with the company’s internal teams and clients alike. That growth has corresponded to 40 percent year-over-year growth over the same time period.
“We are really seeing the results of our work,” he says. “Our marketing efforts are not only promoting a product, but also helping millions of Americans make the most of their health benefits and building savings for the future.”
The HealthEquity marketing team consists of Shara Bowers, motion graphics artist; Cynthia Chen, front-end web design manager; Dingus; Denise Jay and Michelle Lewis, RFP managers; Nikki Lusty, graphic designer; Troy McCleve, marketing communications manager; Colton Pond, marketing coordinator; Kaitlyn Reader, associate graphic designer and marketing specialist; Hayden Simmons, web production specialist; and Susan Updike, lead generation manager.
While creativity is important in any marketing strategy, Paul Horstmeier has found that without an analytical approach, it can lose its punch.
“Too many people still think of marketing as a creative function. This inevitably leads to a loss of credibility and an inability to drive results within a company,” he says. “However, when combined with business savvy and analytical skills, the marketing function can contribute in meaningful, substantive ways to company success.”
The bulk of Horstmeier’s 28-year career has been spent working with Hewlett Packard, including heading HP.com, and has taken his experience from that venture to his current role at HealthCatalyst. The most important thing to remember when crafting a marketing strategy, he says, is to understand overall market trends, listen constantly to customer questions and insight, and win the SEO battle. Because almost three-quarters of customers conduct their own research online first, having the top results help customers get to a company’s site first—and ensure the site has all of the necessary content.
“Because marketing can be better measured than ever before, don’t be afraid to measure marketing so that you can be part of a function that can demonstrate value instead of being second-guessed due to personal creative opinions,” he says.
Justin Lampropoulos’ biggest recent achievement was working himself out of a job.
The executive vice president of sales and marketing for Merit Medical Systems succeeded in making himself redundant in the new Europe, Middle East and African headquarters of the company that he’d been setting up in the Netherlands for the last five years.
“Hiring and developing a team that is vastly superior to your own capabilities is paramount to success. It often takes fortitude to do, and I’ve seen some that aren’t willing to make these types of decisions on building a team; however, it’s critical to developing your own capabilities, your business, and ultimately your market position,” he says.
Lampropoulos has worked from the ground up in the family-owned company—his first job at Merit was janitorial work. One of the greatest strategies he’s learned in sales and marketing is to listen to clients and thoughtfully try to accommodate their needs and wants in products and service.
“Finding the opportunity to solve clinical challenges for physicians requires face time and careful observation and understanding,” he says. “Through careful understanding, we’re able to innovate unique solutions and deliver value in both large and small packages.”
In college, Paul Nygaard became fascinated with how good marketing could drive consumer behavior. Now, working in the field, Nygaard has found that to be even more true—if a good product is the fuel that propels a good company, marketing is the engine.
That engine needs to be fast to keep up with the quick-shifting technological landscape, says Nygaard, senior vice president of marketing for Larry H. Miller Automotive Operations.
“Online [marketing] is faster; it has more a Wild West approach. It needs to engage, entertain and inform, which is a huge challenge,” he says. “Our spending plans changed, [and] our staffing and speed to market.”
With the company enjoying 29 straight months of earnings and sales growth, Nygaard and his team are doing something right. His advice? Go back to the basics, but creatively mold them for the shifting landscape.
“Make sure that you embrace the new world, understand that content and creativity is needed more than ever,” he says. “The basic ‘Ps’ of marketing—Price, Product, Promotion, Place—are still the things that drive business; it’s just become a multi-dimensional battle space we live and work within.”
A gig as a late-night DJ helped Jason Owen stumble into his career, when he had a choice between two “real” jobs: selling copy machines, or doing sales and marketing for a small audio-visual company. Owen took the latter, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I remain in marketing because it is dynamic and mentally challenging. The consumer’s decision journey is more complicated today than ever before, and I enjoy figuring out how to best position marketing messages with the right actionable audiences at the right time and at the right cost,” he says.
Owen became fascinated with how to drive customers into action. That interest, and the drive to continuously out-do his own performance, has served him well as he founded and sold his own company, climbed through the ranks of the acquiring company and joined Vivint.
At Vivint, he says he’s found a team that works together to overcome the challenge of continuous market and consumer evolution. “It’s a rush to know that each day we have total influence over the results we produce. We are a competitive group that loves to win and we continually push ourselves to be better,” he says.
Pros in real estate, advertising, TV and radio, multimedia production, social media, public relations and lead generation have come together to form the Security National Marketing Team. The resulting group has a wealth of perspectives that it uses to create collaborative marketing efforts with great results.
The team, made up of Mike Shehan, CMO; David Bollard, creative director; Kevin Keller, art director; Jeff Bell, Chelsea Johnson, Evie Marenco and Drew Sanders, marketing specialists; Zach Blackburn, digital marketing specialist; and Riannon Duhame, administrative assistant, launched a new branding initiative, including a new market strategy. The new logo and branding helped give loan officers from Security National Mortgage Company branding recognition and sales success in funding more than 11,000 mortgages in 2015.
Their efforts also helped the company grow from having 600 mortgage loan officers to more than 900 nationwide, and sales increased from $2.1 billion in 2014 to $2.8 billion in 2015. Their success has not gone unnoticed, as they’ve won several industry awards and recognition.
Team members say being honest about strengths and weaknesses, and keeping their marketing strategies from becoming overly complicated, helps campaigns be successful and produce the targeted results.
A patent attorney, insurance salesman and teenage kid walk into an office…and a year and a half later, find themselves with 230 percent in sales growth. The unlikely combination of SnapPower’s three founders—also its de facto marketing team—has produced impressive results.
The patent attorney, Cam Robinson, and the insurance salesman, Sean Watkins, came together in early 2014 to develop an idea for an LED night light embedded in an easily installed electrical outlet. Robinson’s 15-year-old son Kayden offered to help out with the duo’s Kickstarter campaign—which raised $45,000 the first day alone, with a total of $480,000 raised during the first campaign—and found he had a knack for sales and marketing.
“There are few things greater than seeing a customer fall in love with a product because of your marketing efforts, and I think that’s what I love most about marketing,” says Kayden, now a freshman at Brigham Young University.
The Robinsons and Watkins crafted strategies for both direct sales and a marketing campaign geared at getting repeat customers. That helped provide a foundation for launching their second product, a USB/phone charger embedded in the same outlet. Another Kickstarter campaign last spring raised $830,000.