Announcing the Real Faces of Sales Awards, as Nominated by You!

April 8, 2019

LinkedIn Real Faces of Sales Awards

In early February, we asked you to nominate your acquaintances and peers for our first annual Real Faces of Sales Awards. We wanted to discover those under-the-radar selling stars who may not get the recognition and notoriety they deserve.

You all really delivered.

We received so many amazing submissions and learned about so many inspiring examples of modern salespeople who are mastering the critical arts of researching, prospecting, relationship-building, and driving results. Choosing winners proved to be a considerable challenge for our panel of judges, but that was a nice problem to have. So, thank you.

Today, we are excited to unveil our selections across four categories. Read on to learn about real salespeople who are making a real difference.

The Real Faces of Sales Awards: 2019

Our goal with this initiative was to highlight “great sales pros out there doing awesome work that goes largely unnoticed.” After sorting through a number of candidates, we settled on four winners: the Super Sleuth Salesperson, the Prospecting Star, the Relationship Maven, and the People’s Choice.

Here’s a look at our panel’s choices, and what made them stand out.

Super Sleuth Salesperson: Brian Mooney, General Manager at NextWave Hire

This nomination comes from Phil Strazzulla, founder and CEO of NextWave Hire, who notes that Mooney recently came over to the company after a lengthy career in corporate HR, where he mostly focused on open enrollment and recruiting.

“Sales at a startup is one of the hardest jobs you can do,” says Strazzulla. “There is no demand generation engine, no marketing team, no standard operating procedures or training.”

Despite all of this, Mooney caught on quickly.

Strazzulla continues: “Even with zero experience, his natural acumen for sales meant he was naturally doing discovery and lead triaging on day one.  He naturally bonds with our customers who he has incredible empathy for.”

This is made possible, in part, because “Brian spent 10 years in our customer's shoes before coming over to the sales side,” Strazzulla adds. While not all salespeople will have that luxury, we should all strive to adopt this sort of perspective. Mooney really does see things through the eyes of his buyers, and it’s made him an instant success.

Judge’s Take: “Brian is a testament to how you succeed in sales, by understanding your prospects and showing empathy. He has mastered the hardest thing for most salespeople — it’s not about me or my product or company, but it’s about my buyer. With a lot of hard work and dedication, he created a new career in sales for himself. “

Prospecting Star: Melanie Zdanowicz, Account Executive at Lessonly

It’s not often that a prospecting email leaves a lasting impression on someone. As salespeople, we’re usually happy if our outreach merely elicits a response. But the quality of one particular message that showed up in Marcus Murphy’s inbox went above and beyond.

“About a year ago I received the best outbound prospecting email from an SDR at Lessonly,” says Murphy, who serves as Director of Sales and Monetization for DigitalMarketer, and also as an instructor and Customer Advisory Board member for LinkedIn. “If you're a salesperson trying to prospect you need to take notes.”

Murphy says there were four aspects of Zdanowicz’s email — which carried the subject line “LOVE that LinkedIn Profile” — that delighted him:

  1. This is not the most creative subject line, BUT if you're paying attention to my themes you know this would catch my eye.
  2. It's thoughtful. She made connections to what I was trying to accomplish and how her product or solution aligned to expedite my objectives.
  3. She took the time to read my LinkedIn summary and quoted it in her introduction.
  4. She also told me she just wanted to connect with me for 10 minutes. I know that it will take longer than 10 minutes but the statement shows that she's respectful of my busy schedule.

“She really is the future of sales and truly embodies the thoughtfulness needed to understand the modern sales cycle,” Murphy continues, complimenting Zdanowicz’s ability to guide customers through their journeys with patience and substance. “Melanie understands the importance of understanding her future customers’ themes. Not only what my potential pain points are but what I’m personally passionate about. Once equipped with that information she’s skilled enough to tie it into her outreach. I get prospected by literally thousands of people... and I can count on one hand the people who have executed this type of process effectively.”

The veteran executive sales leader was so impressed that he forged a rapport with Zdanowicz and now works with her in a mentorship role.

Judge’s Take: “You’ve gotta hand it to someone that was nominated with such conviction, by a customer.”

Relationship Maven: Sangita Patel, Area Vice President of Sales at Pegasystems

Vidya Drego, a product marketer at LinkedIn, wanted to shine the spotlight on Patel, who joined up with Pegasystems last year after spending two decades at Forrester. Drego says that in her experience, Patel is “always developing authentic and personal relationships with customers.”

“Sangita is a dynamic sales leader who is compelling because of her depth of knowledge, quality of relationships, ability to grow talent, and drive to win,” Drego continues. “That's not what makes her unique however. As a minority woman in sales, she has to be twice as good as her peers and it shows both in the results she's driven, the teams she's mentored, and the customers she's impacted.”

In her nomination, Drego called out one story that seems to say it all about this admirable bridge-builder: “My first exposure to her was when a mutual colleague pointed out that the mark of the depth of her relationships was how many customers she had at her wedding!”

Judge’s Take: “Doesn't get any better than when you have your customers at your wedding. That is truly building customers for life.”

People’s Choice: Dale Dupree, Founder of The Sales Rebellion

The people have spoken, and their appreciation for Dupree — aka The Copier Warrior, and leader of The Sales Rebellion — is blindingly evident.

Here’s a sampling of the many positive comments we saw from numerous nominators for this cherished sales coach and mentor:

  • “Not only is he dedicated to his work, but he is dedicated to his clients. His integrity, care, and passion are contagious.”
  • “If you meet Dale Dupree, you do not forget you met him. He is brutally honest while being one of the most compassionate people I know.”
  • “Dale has bridged the gap between corporate interests and community building, something that not many people can understand. On top of all of that, he has begun to influence the next generation of sales professionals and is training them how to replicate his process.”
  • “There are a billion sales coaches out there, but I've yet to meet one who brings such a high level of creativity, empathy, and determination to the process. Dale represents everything that's missing in so many sales departments out there.”
  • “Dale understands what it means to change the game for people and he consistently and diligently breaks down the barriers that we as sales professionals encounter daily. Dale taught me how to sell from the heart, how to have a servant’s mentality, and how to build the kind of trusted, sustainable, quality business relationships we all seek to find.”
  • “He's one of the REALEST sales people you'll ever meet in your life. His walk carries a rare vulnerability in the stories he tells and the strong relationships he builds.”

Wow, that is some amazing feedback. Clearly Mr. Dupree has touched a lot of people, making his selection for the People’s Choice award well earned. He’s living out the mantra presented in his LinkedIn profile:

"I believe in Radically Educating your prospects on a first touch. I believe in Responses, good or bad, but never indifferent. I believe your Territory is your Community, we enable Sales Wanderers. I believe your Pipeline is Alive. I believe people are more than just a signature for your deal. I believe in fellowship over negotiations.”

Needless to say, he’s got plenty of believers himself.

Facing New Challenges and Keeping It Real

Going through all of these nominations, and reading about these esteemed sales pros, was honestly an invigorating experience. Sometimes, it seems like those cringeworthy tales of “sales fails” and faux pas are always the ones gaining viral visibility, but there are many more salespeople out there illustrating the way it should be done, today and going forward. This was a powerful reminder of that.

Thank you once again to everybody who took the time to nominate a peer, colleague, or connection, and congratulations to our inaugural field of winners. Huge thanks also to our judges, who put a lot of thought into these evaluations: Nancy Nardin, Morgan Ingram, and Sally Duby.

Keep your eyes peeled for more regional winners from around the globe, and also for upcoming Real Faces of Sales content in the future.

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