Rolling out the red carpet for salespeople
In its 45th year, the annual DSA programme, dubbed the ‘Oscars of the sales industry’, focuses on trust and teamwork
Despite rapid advances in technology which have added new channels to the art of selling, great salespeople still need to relate to their customers, understand their products and services, have the ability to build and manage short- and long-term relationships, and help customers make the best decisions.
As in previous years, the 45th Distinguished Salesperson Award (DSA), organised under the sponsorship of the Sales and Marketing Executives Club (SME Club) of the Hong Kong Management Association, recognises the abilities of individual salespeople, helps improve the quality of salesmanship in Hong Kong, and builds up the image of selling and marketing as a prestigious profession.
Allen Leung, chairman of the DSA Organising Committee, says the programme is not just about giving awards to outstanding salespeople, but also about providing them with opportunities to enhance their professionalism. “Through the judging process, award participants are able to gain self-confidence and enhance their professional skills,” Leung says.
Meanwhile, he adds, for participating companies, the DSA is one of the most effective ways to recognise the efforts of outstanding staff members while giving encouragement to their sales teams.
“The programme provides a platform for salespersons from different industries to interact and share experiences and insights. It motivates them to keep up their outstanding sales efforts,” he says.
During the judging process, participants are tested on their product knowledge and are required to make a sales presentation to a panel of expert judges. Later, the judges select a product the participants are unfamiliar with and invite them to make a short sales presentation to a target audience. There is also an in-depth question and answer session where participants are evaluated on their sales skills and knowledge. The awards are judged independently by a group of prominent industry professionals spanning different fields and market sectors.
Under the theme of this year’s DSA, the organiser was keen to highlight the responsibility salespeople have to demonstrate trust, empathy, assurance and a consistent message. “When put together, the first letters form the word ‘team’, which is meant to highlight that support from company and peers is also crucial to a salesperson’s success,” Leung says.
A total of 61 companies participated in this year’s awards programme, with representatives from 57 of them picking up awards. Thirteen of the 61 teams were new entrants, including three from the mainland and Taiwan. In total, 175 nominees, comprising 135 DSA nominees and 40 Outstanding Young Salesperson Awards (OYSA) nominees, took part, with all DSA nominees and 33 OYSA nominees receiving awards.
The OYSA, first introduced in 1985 as part of the DSA, represents the organiser’s efforts to give encouragement to up-and-coming young salespeople aged 25 or below.
According to Leung, the Organising Committee was pleased to see that the quality of the candidates is continuing to improve. “The continuing improvement in sales skills that we see reflects that companies understand the need of talented salespersons, and are investing more in cultivating sales professionals,” Leung says.
Equally satisfying for the committee was the number of companies eager to take part and the diversity of the sectors in which they operate.
“We see companies joining the programme coming from industries ranging from retail and F&B to banks and telecommunications,” Leung says. “I believe this is an indication of the wider business community’s growing recognition of sales and marketing as a profession. Some of the participating companies even told us they now regard the DSA as the ‘Oscars of the sales industry’ and as a standard of excellence in selling.”
As advances in technology drive the development of more sophisticated products and services, Leung believes the skills of the salesperson need to evolve at a faster pace. “Salespersons, as well as their companies, have to be quick in acquiring new product knowledge and sales skills to keep up with the evolution,” he says.
At the same time, he says, technological advances have also helped salespeople. Product presentations, for example, can now be given on easily transportable tablets.
“While outstanding sales capabilities rely on many skills, technology tools can help to make the presentation of products more interesting,” Leung says.