The President’s Club: What’s the Big Deal?

All sales professionals aspire to earn the prestigious “President’s Club”.  This is the ultimate sales achievement award that is also sometimes referred to as “The 100% Club”, “The Winner’s Circle”, “The Chairman’s Inner Circle”, etc.  From the moment you graduate from sales training and are assigned your sales territory you hear about this great award and work your sales plan around getting there.  In addition to the recognition amongst your peers and your company’s executives there are usually lavish trips associated with it.  During these trips you also have the opportunity to be seen by most of your senior executives.  It’s an opportunity to socialize with them in an exciting environment.  Many career advancements can be attributed to making yourself well known at these events.

During my long sales career I have had the opportunity to enjoy these President’s Clubs.  I’ve gone to recognition trips in Miami, Bermuda, England, Ireland, Hawaii, California, Italy, France, Monte Carlo, The Caribbean, Singapore, Cambodia, Japan, Bali and New York City.  Nothing feels better than to hear your name announced and go up on stage to get your award and photo with the CEO.

How important though are these President’s Clubs?  For the salesperson?  For the company?  My quick assessment is “very” but let’s explore this further.

I asked several CEO’s and Heads of Sales to weigh in on this topic.

I asked them three (3) questions:

  1. Do you look for this on Sales Candidate’s Resumes?
  2. Do you count how many?
  3. Do you want proof of these achievements?

Barbara Spector

First let’s hear from Barbara Spector, President of Smart Moves Inc.(www.smartmoves.com).  Smart Moves focuses on helping clients recruit, develop and retain talented employees.

Here are Barbara’s responses:

1)      Do you look for President’s Club Awards on a Candidate’s Resume? Absolutely.  This is what we call the “Achiever Pattern”.  It is something that anyone recruiting for top performers need to search for.  We follow up in one-on-one interviews with questions about the awards.

2)      Do you count how many they’ve earned?  I’m not concerned with how many but the more the merrier, so to speak.  Having a number of awards over time indicates a trend of high performance over time.

3)      Do you want proof of these achievements?  While we aren’t looking for “proof”, per se, we will ask performance based interview questions that peel away the onion about these awards so we understand what the skills, capabilities and the actual achievement was in uncovering specifics about the achievement, for example, if they were awarded President’s Club we want to know what they actually accomplished.  It might be that they answer by saying “I increased market penetration for the company by x% and did it in half the time than was expected”, followed by a series of questions we should ask that gets at how they did that, what they learned, difficulties in achieving it, how long it took, who else was involved, what skills were necessary, etc..  The purpose of asking the questions is to eliminate the BS factor.  But as an added benefit in asking these drill down questions, is that the candidate gets to talk about something they are really proud of and, behold, the candidate’s real personality emerges.  Add the Objective Management Group Assessment (Predictive Analytics) to the equation and you will likely have a 98% chance of hiring a star performer.

If you’re interested in finding out more about OMG then click here: http://results.smartmovesinc.com/acton/form/9535/001e:d-0001/0/index.htm

Okay so Barbara, as a Talent Recruiter and Consultant is a big believer in looking for sales candidates that demonstrate success as evidenced by earned President’s Club recognition.

Chad Burmeister

Now let’s talk to some senior sales executives.  They not only want to use folks like Barbara to help in these sales talent searches but also have an intuition about identifying successful sales candidates.  Let’s hear from Chad Burmeister, VP Sales & Marketing for ConnectandSell (www.connectandsell.com). Here goes:

1)       Do you look for President’s Club on Sales Candidate’s Resumes?  Yes, absolutely, one of the best predictors is past performance.

2)      Do you count how many?  No. I look for some level of consistency.  In addition we use the Objective Management Group Profiler Tool.  It has been very very accurate for helping us find/hire A Players.

3)      Do you want proof of these achievements?  Not important.  If a candidate lies, it shows up in the references.  Don’t lie people!

Chad net’s it out.  President’s Club is important and it better be real!

Chuck Hellings

What does Chuck Hellings, EVP for ePath Learning (www.ePathLearning.com), an On-Line Training Co. have to say on the subject?  Chuck chose to use my questions as a guide and responded as follows:

While I do not specifically search for it, it stands out and moves the sales candidate up when I see it.  Once is better than never and more than once is better than once.  Consistency is the sign of a true champion.  I personally do not seek proof above their written statement.

President’s Club is recognition of superior performance.  It is making the All-Star team.  While there are many successful sales professionals out there, those that have been honored by being the best at what they do for their company have a special place of importance and worth that sets them above all others.

I like Chuck’s statement about making the All-Star team.  As an athlete, even as far back as Little League, making the All-Star team was exciting.  All competitive natured people strive for this.

David Emery

Now let’s go across the Pacific Ocean to hear from David Emery, CEO for Reciprocus, a Singapore based Consulting Company.  Reciprocus (www.reciprocus.com) helps companies find markets for their products in Asia.

1)      Do you look for this on Sales Candidate’s Resumes?  Yes, as this info definitely gives you an indication about the quality of a sales person and the fact that a candidate provides the info says something about the competitiveness of the person.  I was trained in Sales at Xerox and incentives were just part of the culture there and I am still proudly keeping the respective certificates and videos from the different trips.

2)      Do you count how many?  Track record is always better than a single event but I wouldn’t count.

3)      Do you want proof of these achievements?  No, but maybe ask for confirmation when getting references from former employers.

So David also believes that making the President’s Club is important and a part of his evaluation of the sales candidate.

Tino Kokkinos

Next up is Tino Kokkinos.  Tino has held several Sales VP roles with great companies like Dun & Bradstreet, The Executive Board and Harte-Hanks.  Tino knows sales talent.  Tino combined his answers to the three questions in one simple paragraph:

Certainly a meaningful achievement.  When I look at candidate’s resumes I look for “above average” performance.  President’s Club is an indicator of above average performance.  I usually probe to learn what the major driver was – one large sale, several successes with a new product, etc.

Tino’s like a hawk.  He looks for President’s Club recognition and then drills down with the sales candidate.

Kevin Akeroyd

Let’s hear from a sales executive from a large firm.  Kevin Akeroyd is General Manager, SVP for Oracle Marketing Cloud. Kevin has limitless energy and an eye for great sales talent.  What’s Kevin say on the subject?

–          We look at overall attainment v. their goals, 100% of the time.  If they made “Club”, it’s a bonus and it clearly means they attained

–          We do value consistency of attainment over their tenure, so yes, if there’s a consistent track record of “Club” that correlates to consistent track record attainment over the tenure that counts for a fair amount.

–          We do try to validate claims on the resume, including actual compensation as well as awards and “Club”.

Are we seeing a trend yet?  Making “Club” is very important.  Not only for winning that new job but also getting promoted.

John Cucci

Next we’ll learn from John Cucci.  John was a SVP Sales for MCI and most recently was Head of Sales for Dun & Bradstreet.

Winner’s Circle type activities are optically a “nice to see” on a resume.  I believe the greater indicator is the earnings over the last 3-5 years.  If you have a consistent performer it will not only show in Winner’s Circle it will show in their W-2.  Ask how their existing compensation plan works and how they have maximized their earning potential.  If they struggle to answer their own earnings question that would be a big red flag for me.

It seems to me we have gotten away from relationships and spend too much time on metrics which may or may not apply to good sales people.

It’s more important in my mind to ask about:

1)       The PRODUCT they have sold and if there is a link to the product they will sell for you

2)      Do they have PROCESS they follow in sales, can they explain the 8 CRM processes and what they look for in a deal.  How do they plan and execute?

3)      Most importantly what is their BEHAVIOR with the deals or working with others?

So, in John’s case he likes to see “Winner’s Circle” achievements but he is more focused on the sales candidate’s historical earnings (W-2).  He then wants to understand further how the candidate plans their territory and each sale.  Good stuff!

Pat O’Brien

Let’s get back to getting feedback from a Sales Executive from a smaller start-up company.  Next we’ll hear from Pat O’Brien from Leadspace.  Leadspace (www.leadspace.com) is also an iSalesman client and is reshaping the marketing services industry by using Social Media to find Prospects or “Best Buyers” for their clients.  Again, Pat has taken the three questions and responded accordingly:

The President’s Club would be a factor for me but if a candidate is going to list it once I would want to see it consistently.

As I live in the “start-up” world I need to take risks with folks that maybe a more established larger organization wouldn’t and thus bet on the up and comers or folks who might have a little less consistency.  Sales performance is, of course, paramount but I need folks who can thrive in that unique start-up environment.

Also, just like some schools suffer grade inflation, whereas some are too tough, I think the same thing is true in sales.  Most companies, in my opinion, dole out quotas which are too big.

So, a factor? Yes.  Top factor? No.

So Pat is not really focused on President’s Club recognition but would consider it as valuable as long as the candidate consistently made it.  Rather he is focused on traits that he thinks would be successful in a start-up company.  We’ll have to get to the bottom of that in a follow-up Blog.

Jim Fowler

Let’s hear now from a couple more CEO’s.  First up is Jim Fowler.  “Fowler” is a serial entrepreneur who I had the pleasure of working with when he founded Jigsaw and iSalesman helped them find big clients.  This eventually led to Salesforce.com acquiring Jigsaw for $170 million and sending “Fowler” off to his most recent start-up, Owler (www.owler.com).

I asked Fowler the three questions and he responded accordingly,

Club attainment matters to me only as a function of their sales proficiency.  In other words how much of their number did they attain?

When I see these numbers on a resume I’m always reminded of Benjamin Disraeli’s famous quote: “There are three kinds of lies.  Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

When I see “Club” and Quota Attainment claims on a resume I start digging in.  I’m much more interested in how they did versus their peers than a phantom number.

Fowler always leaves you reflecting on his words for some deep inner meaning but my take away from this is that Jim would find “Made Club” on a resume interesting but he would certainly drill down on the numbers behind it as well as find out how selective “Club” was in your company.

Bruce Wideberg

The next CEO is my brother Bruce Wideberg.  Bruce was the CEO for a large contract labor company in Boston and is now involved with a similar start-up.  Bruce chose to comment on “President’s Club” through the lens of “does it benefit the company?’

I would have to say that instituting a President’s Club Recognition Program was one of the most effective ways to instill a sense of accomplishment in our salesforce, reinforced our culture, afforded upper management quality time with each over-achiever, and was definitely a consideration in hiring, succession planning, and promotions.  It became such a force within our ranks that the competition to “Make Club” really drove the business to new heights.  A sense of belonging really meant something to those who were multiple winners.  It always worked out that the top 5% achievers made club (5% of 1800 sales people = 90 Winners plus spouses and significant others).  We would have the “Club” event quickly after the New Year and loudly with high end destinations, gifts, parties, bands, activities each day, etc.  “If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing right”.  A bunch of folks extended, with their families, to enjoy the destinations after the event concluded.

I’m proud of my little brother Bruce.  He instilled a real Sales Culture in his company and made the sales people feel like they were the most important part of the company.  The results showed.  Making “Club” was a cornerstone of his company’s success.

Bruce still can’t beat me at golf though.

Jerry DeMartino

The last person we’ll hear from is Jerry DeMartino.  Jerry was a senior executive with MCI during the “go-go” days when we were growing $Billions every year.  Jerry knew all the great sales people in the Telecom industry.  Jerry is now CEO of Competitive Telecom Group, one of the largest Executive Search companies in the Telecom sector.

Jerry’s words:

We do occasionally come across recognition awards listed on resumes.  They clearly have some value but have never had a hiring manager ask for verification.  Frequently it could be a negative.  Seeing recognition awards that are not current begs the question: “why have you won nothing in the last 5 years??”

Same applies to performance above quota.

Proof of Performance is determined by my clients looking for past W-2s

BTW we’re looking to fill 4 senior positions:

CMO in Dallas or Santa Clara

CFO Texas

2 SVP’s – NY, Denver, Va.

Jerry is placing less importance on “Club” and more importance on the sales candidate’s W-2 and how the candidate achieved these earnings.  Club would be relevant to Jerry if the candidate achieved this recognition consistently!  Also, if you have an interest in the openings above you can reach Jerry directly at jerry@competitivetelecoms.com

So how does this all relate to iSalesman and you?  The best prepared candidates for promotion and great sales jobs with other companies are to be able to “sell yourself”.  If you are a high achiever, and have earned “Club” recognition we recommend joining the iSalesman President’s Club.

This is an elite award, and in order to qualify, you must submit the form below, and provide the name and email address of either your direct manager at time of award receipt, or the name and email of a sales executive responsible for the award at that employer. We will email them for a confirmation, and then update your profile.

Published in Awards and Recognition, Motivation & Inspiration, Sales performance, Top Producers