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How to EnterCompany: MarketBridge, Bethesda, MD
Company Description: MarketBridge is a leading global provider of technology-enabled sales and marketing solutions and services for Fortune 1000 companies, delivering client results based on an empirical approach to designing, building, and managing programs.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year

Nomination Title: MarketBridge's Credit Training and Coaching Program for Saks Fifth Avenue/MasterCard

Tell the story about your organization's sales training and/or coaching program since the beginning of July 2011 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Saks Fifth Avenue offers its upper-affluent customers access to an exclusive rewards program, SaksFirst, through their private label credit card (Saks Store Card) or an upgrade to their co-brand credit card (Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard). Each card provides different features, benefits and rewards and, while these are among the richest in the luxury retail industry, explaining the options correctly and consistently to customers was a persistent challenge for Associates.

MarketBridge was engaged in 2007 to build a coaching and training program targeted directly at Associates and the credit options available to their clientele. Despite our proven effectiveness at increasing Associate knowledge and confidence, while also significantly boosting card applications, we continued to improve and refine our approach, evolving into a best-in-class program recognized with a Gold Stevie Award in 2012.

However, the client’s needs changed and our entire approach had to change along with it.

Instead of targeting Associates, we were directed to switch our focus top-down, enabling store Management to train Associates. Developing a strategy for this necessitated a complete overhaul of what was currently in market to not only address Management knowledge gaps, but teach them how to become effective trainers as well.

We used a five-phase, on-site training approach using dedicated Account Executives. In Phase 1, we did “sage on stage” training to establish a credit knowledge baseline. Then, in Phase 2, we “gamified” our approach to ensure knowledge retention through increased interactivity. We moved to skill training in Phase 3 which introduced Management to four, custom-made modules they would train Associates with. In Phase 4, we put Managers in front of Associates while we co-facilitated the modules with them. Finally, in Phase 5, we stepped back and provided observation and post-session coaching as Managers trained Associates on their own.

To support these in-store efforts, reinforce key messaging and ensure ongoing Management participation, we also utilized a variety of long-distance learning tools. These included monthly supplemental materials mailings, an email campaign and online tools like (matches Associates with the best-fit module) and (video and text tips to overcome objections).

As a result, this new, Management-facing approach has been a resounding success in all key program areas.



Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of the nominated sales training or coaching program:

Becky Johns is a Vice President at MarketBridge. In her current role, she works with clients to improve marketing and sales productivity by developing and executing integrated, data-driven strategies. At MarketBridge her experience centers primarily on building brand loyalty through customer acquisition, engagement and retention programs and developing online and social media communities. In addition, she has expertise in enabling sales teams through innovative training and sales readiness programs.

Courtney Milliken) is a Program Manager with MarketBridge. Most prominently, she is responsible for leading the deployment and measurement of sales enablement and digital customer relationship programs for clients.