Andy Olson is a 21st century Mike Brady.
The father of six in a bustling blended family, Olson accomplishes with aplomb the near-miraculous balancing act of being a dedicated dad and a sales professional who annually orchestrates eight figures worth of deals.
Sure, he’s busy, flying around the U.S. and Canada to meet with Fortune 500 clients, spending weekends running from soccer pitches to baseball fields for his kids’ games. Still, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m a hard worker that wants to win in all aspects of life – business, husband, father and friend,” Olson says.
Boy, is he ever doing that.
After billing about $15 million in 2014, Olson might have been forgiven for pausing to admire the achievement. But he wasn’t interested in slowing down. Instead, he put nose-to-grind and strove to beat the revenue tally in 2015 – a feat he achieved. “I want to increase my business for a seventh consecutive year,” he says of his goals for 2016.
While Olson prefers to look ahead, his performance over the last 12 months is certainly worthy of being recognized as the Distributor Salesperson of the Year. Not only did Olson far surpass any other finalist in annual sales, he rose above the rest in almost every award criteria Advantages outlined. He more than doubled, for example, his next closest competitor in our online finalist voting, showing that customers, industry colleagues and coworkers consider him an elite rep.
“Andy’s passion and drive for our business is simply outstanding,” says Anne McKeough, vice president of global sales at Staples Promotional Products. “He travels throughout North America working creatively and strategically with his key clients to help them drive their business. He grows his sales year after year and collaborates closely with his key support team to make things happen every day.”
A consummate family man, Olson’s wife, Jenny, and their six kids – ages 7 to 16 – are the fuel that drives him to be his best. “I don’t want to let them down,” he says. “Their happiness dictates my success.”
Now in his 16th year in promotional product sales, the strategic account manager for Staples Promotional Products says there isn’t a golden ticket to prosperity. Rather, his success is rooted in practicing consultative selling principles that make him a partner to clients.
“We talk to them about the initiatives and products they’re working on, and we develop solutions based on their needs,” says Olson, who works primarily with automotive and industrial companies. “It’s about us helping to drive more sales their way.”
This customer-first service has resulted in Olson earning a bevy of devoted clients. Even so, he eschews taking all the credit, saying the support team at Staples is integral to success. “It’s a great group of people that enable me to build up these programs,” he says.
While modest about his accomplishments, Olson has advice to offer industry sellers eager to increase their sales: “Surround yourself with top sales reps, and don’t be afraid to ask them how they got there,” he says. “Most would be pretty open about sharing.”
It’s also wise to build strong relationships with excellent suppliers, Olson believes. “It will reduce your workload. Your suppliers will give you ideas,” he says. Fundamentally, reps must be reliable and accountable, always considering the long-term relationship. If an order goes awry, propose solutions, learn from the experience and communicate with the client how you’ll prevent such issues in the future. “When customers see you’re working hard to meet their needs,” says Olson, “they’re going to trust you with their next project.”
Working hard is something to which Olson is no stranger. And that’s fine, for this Nebraska native with a Kansas City soul is happy spending the rest of his professional life in the branded merchandise industry, supporting his family and helping clients prosper.
“I love what I do,” says Olson. “I don’t want to do anything else.”