Stephanie Giese’s road to success at Virbac has been paved in … pillars.
By Malcolm Mayhew
Virbac’s Executive Territory Sales Consultant for the West Central/Florida area, Stephanie Giese has taken the popular “four pillars” adage and made it her own. The 12-year employee of Virbac calls hers the “four pillars of passion.”
Number 1: Animals. “When I was 6 years old, I loved taking care of litters of Labrador puppies we raised at home, and I loved visiting my grandpa’s farmland in Nebraska,” she says. “I felt a strong sense of purpose to take care of all the kittens in his barn.”
An adolescent’s interest grew into a college student’s major. In 2010, Stephanie graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she majored in animal science/biology. Her original plan was to head off to veterinary school but life had something else in mind for her and her husband: “The blessing of life,” she says. Stephanie and her husband soon found out they were expecting their first child.
As she started her family, Stephanie’s passion for the animal healthcare industry never faded. The couple moved to Texas in 2011 and soon Stephanie found herself applying for a job as an Inside Sales Representative here at Virbac.
“Having worked in a veterinary clinic as an undergrad, I was familiar with selling products like Iverhart and the derm line,” she says. “Answering questions and selling these products over the phone was an easy transition.”
At this point, Stephanie says, she unearthed her second pillar: Learning.
“OK, I already knew this one, but when I went through all the training and discovered different disease states with solutions, my desire to learn more blossomed.”
Stephanie’s steadfast desire to reenter the clinic world coincided with her husband’s need to move for his job. In a happy coincidence, they moved to Tampa, Florida, the territory for which Virbac just happened to need a Territory Sales Manager.
Stephanie says her sales skills were a little rough at first. “I now cringe at how I used to ‘sell’ as a brand-new rep in my territory,” she says. “But over the years I have had amazing mentors who have taught me the art and finesse of customer interaction and sales.”
After spending nearly five years as a TSM and an additional three-and-a-half years as a Senior TSM, Stephanie uncovered another pillar - education.
“When Kris Saums came to me in 2017 at our National Sales Meeting with the prospect of being an Area Sales Trainer, I happily agreed,” she says. “As an AST, I get to be a guide for new hires in their first six months. While they are in the midst of all their deep dive training, modules, and virtual sessions with their TSVs, I am helping them weed out what they will need to know in the field when they are customer-facing.”
It should come as no surprise that, given Stephanie’s history of unearthing a new pillar each time she changes positions at the company, she once again discovered a new one as an AST.
“While I liked my role as a sales rep, I love my role as an AST,” she says. “It’s here that I have discovered passion number four: helping others be better at what they do. I am now working with my 16th new hire. It’s fun to have an extra role in the company that keeps me connected across the country.”
While many of her colleagues have come and gone over the years, Stephanie has remained loyal to Virbac; she’s about six months shy of celebrating her 13th anniversary here.
“I love the products and truly feel they improve the lives of animals and our vets every single day,” she says. “I try to instill that passion into every veterinarian, new hire, and even the seasoned reps out there. I’ve been blessed with a career that has taught me so much and helped me discover what motivates me to get up every day and stay passionate!”
Kris Saums, Virbac’s sales training manager, calls Stephanie, “the total package.” “She is highly technical, has great sales skills, is a wonderful team player who has worked across the entire country helping new hires, and she keeps me on my feet,” she says. “Working with Steph makes me and the other ASTs up our game. She makes all of us better trainers. What more could you ask of a salesperson?”