Bartow's largest employer was recently named one of the top 50 companies to sell for by Selling Power, a magazine often considered the leading trade publication for sales managers and sales vice presidents.
"Obviously, any time we get recognized it's a great accomplishment and it makes us feel extremely proud that our people are being seen as creating value in the marketplace," said Shaw Industries Chief Human Resources Officer Mike Fromm. "We're excited that someone externally is seeing the things we're doing and seeing it as a value-added proposition to our customers."
The Dalton-based carpet manufacturer ranked No. 18 on the publication's 2018 rankings, ahead of such international conglomerates as Google, IBM and Microsoft.
Shaw has made the top 50 list fives times in the last six years. The company was ranked No. 37 in last year's countdown.
Organizations chosen for the list were determined by a number of factors, including compensation and benefits, hiring and sales training and customer retention.
The "key" for Shaw, Fromm said, is its 12-week training program to get new sales force hires "assimilated and acclimated" to their corporate culture.
"It's comprehensive all the way from the classroom, hands-on, the technology and support things. They really understand how the product is made, what are some of the characteristics and attributes of the products, the different solutions that we can offer," he said. "And most importantly, then really home in on do they gain empathy from the customer and really understand the customer's needs so they can specify the right solution for them?"
Fromm said Shaw's global sales force — consisting of traditional associates out in the field — currently numbers between 1,200-1,300 representatives.
"One of the things that I think separates us from the competition within the industry and across industries, regardless of boundaries from a sales perspective, is the infrastructure that we have," he said. "The way we provide customer service that we offer, the sales operations, marketing services, our sales technology platforms ... all those things are really intended to take the stress away from our sales folks so they can do the things they need to do, which is sell."
Shaw's corporate culture, Fromm said, forms the bedrock of the company's sales force success.
"It's the way we treat people, the way we set the focus around people and the importance of people as our competitive advantage," he said. "We want everyone to feel like they're included and involved, that they matter and that they really are [here] to take care of others, both internally and externally."
Whether an associate is working in residential or commercial sales, Fromm said the company promotes the same skills, tools and infrastructure to facilitate their employees' ability to "outperform the competition."
And that, he said, has a major impact on Shaw's bottom line.
"For customer retention, I think it's a significant tool for us," Fromm said. "When you look at the investment we make in making sure they know how to interface with the customer, we constantly get feedback through different surveys that our field is head and shoulders above our competition in the way they service our customers."
Fromm listed a few characteristics the company looks for in an "ideal" sales force recruit. "Someone that's very inclusive, recognizing that it starts with showing others respect and hearing their perspective in order to then offer solutions," he said. "You have to be willing to listen and engage and build sound relationships, so we're looking for trustworthiness."
In an extremely competitive market where fresh talent is in high demand, Fromm said Shaw is on the lookout for more "self-starters" with a "high degree of initiative" to add to their sales force ranks.
"We continue to grow, so we'll always have opportunities for people who want to join our organization," he said. "There is a war for talent, so we're always looking for those individuals that fit our culture and fit our strategic priorities."