November 11, 2014
Filed under: Editorial
Truly, one of the best parts of my job (and there are many) is the privilege of giving awards each year to the SGR Supplier Sales Reps of the Year and Customer Service Rep of the Year. Now in its fifth year, these awards are based on distributor voting what I think is the perfect way to wrap up the year.
I’m admittedly thrilled that the winners of both awards are women, who have made huge strides in the business since I joined nearly 18 years ago and now make up a decided majority of the industry. And they’re getting their due for the success they bring with them, which is about time.
Our amazing Supplier Rep of the Year, whose nominations from distributors were downright effusive, is Julie Strob (at left), the key accounts manager for Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products. Let me end the suspense: She’s the real deal. With an increase in sales of 40% over 2013, Julie’s sales strategy is clearly paying off. But don’t take it from me; I invite you to contemplate the words of Danny Rosin, president of the Raleigh-based distributor BrandFuel, one of the distributors who nominated Julie:
“She’s someone our team counts on to help us with those complex opportunities by educating us on options, going to bat for us with her management team and being incredibly responsive – for someone on the road so often, we really appreciate that,” says Rosin. “She’s also taken the time to understand who our clients are so that we can be mutually successful. The best part? She’s someone we trust – and she is honest.”
Then there’s this year’s Customer Service Rep of the Year. I confess, I’m been on the receiving end of such horrific customer service (and blogged about it with such acidic venom I’m sure certain airlines, cable companies and phone service providers have me on their own personal “eff with” list) that when I experience good customer service, my loyalty for that company becomes downright evangelical. I’d even go so far to say that I believe customer service is the most important department – yep, even more than sales – of any company. Why? Salespeople get the clients, but it’s the customer service reps who keep them coming back and have the power to turn them into word-of-mouth advocates.
And hoo boy, does this year’s winner of the SGR CSR of the Year – PCNA’s Cally Neal (lower right) – have those traits in spades. “Cally has always been extremely supportive of our initiatives and her follow through is first rate,” says Cathy Cummings, supplier relations manager at Counselor Top 40 distributor AIA Corp. “I can always depend on Cally to provide product suggestions and sales assistance.”
Jennifer McNab, manager of vendor relations and product development for Counselor Top 40 distributor Accolade Promotions Group, concurs. “Over the last three years Cally has helped us become more sophisticated with the approach we have for product placement in our programs and catalogues,” McNab says. “She has provided us with industry insight specific to our various markets as well as insight into what companies in the same industries as our clients are having success with. Her professionalism has evolved and she has truly taken the ‘let me help you’ approach to managing our business. Her perceptiveness, expertise and commitment to helping our business grow is an asset, attributes that we wish more of our suppliers brought to the table.”
So here’s to Julie and Cally, who truly exemplify the best this industry has to offer!