Spotlight: Ben Vestal – Salesperson of the Year Six Years and Counting!
At Open Options our employees are our biggest asset and a shining example of a dedicated team member can be found in Sales Manager Ben Vestal. Ben, who has a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business from Texas Tech University, has been the top producing sales team member for six consecutive years and in this Q&A he shares some insight on his success.
You’ve been the top producing Salesperson of the Year for Open Options for the past six years, but you didn’t start off in sales. How did you get started with the company and progress to sales?
I was hired as the Purchasing Manager for Open Options in May of 2005 and was responsible for all of the purchasing and order processing for sales. I also managed the warehouse and was responsible for inventory control. I was in that position for about a year and a half before I transitioned into sales.
Prior to Open Options, I had spent the majority of my career on the procurement side of business — I negotiated contracts with vendors and with their salespeople. Having that perspective helped me when I transitioned to the sales side because I knew what it took to earn and keep my business when I was the one making decisions from the procurement side.
Around the end of 2006/beginning of 2007, Open Options was looking for someone to manage sales in the Texas market. Prior to this, we did not have a dedicated salesperson for Texas. We had relied almost exclusively on SecureNet, our sister company for the Texas market. I was looking for a new challenge and approached sales management about the opportunity. I was given an opportunity with the southern half of Texas as my territory, to start. From there, my territory has grown to as many as five states. Currently, my focus is 100-percent on the Texas market.
Open Options has a really strong sales force and you’ve managed to lead the pack year after year — to what do you attribute your success?
Well, it definitely gets harder and harder every year. Open Options has built a very strong team of regional sales managers. We have a great team and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. We compete against each other internally with our sales numbers, but it is very much a team culture.
As far as sustaining and growing my market, momentum is critical. Texas is my territory and we have a very strong group of integrators who support Open Options. One of my biggest priorities is supporting integrators at a higher level to keep that momentum going. I’m here to make their jobs easier. They are our front line and I’m here to support them in whatever way I can to make them successful. I want to make sure they always feel appreciated and supported. At the end of the day, I feel most integrators do business with certain manufacturers because they want to. People buy products from people. I try to provide our dealers with the resources they need to sell and use our product, but I’ll also meet with their end users — or prospective end users — and provide presentations for them, as well. They know this isn’t just a sale for Open Options — it’s a commitment.
What is your approach to sales in an ever-changing market such as IT security?
Being plugged into the security industry is a must. We obviously don’t just deal with just our access control product. We have various manufacturer hardware and software integrations, integrators, dealers, end users — a whole variety of facets that make up our industry. Open Options does a great job at keeping our sales force educated on the market trends and advances in the field. Our sales engineers who serve as the liaison between software development and sales do a tremendous job as that information conduit.
When you approach a new integrator or dealer, how do you convince them to choose Open Options over the alternatives?
They understand that they will have both positives and negatives with any manufacturer. I emphasize that Open Options will be their best partner. We aren’t the biggest in the industry and we don’t want to be — but we are an excellent partner. It’s something we have control over and we can be mindful of every day. Do we treat our business partners the way they want to be treated? Hopefully the answer is “yes”. We try very hard to do the right thing even when it may not be the most appealing option.