Nominees must overcome a tough set of hurdles when they face the judging panel. 'The judging criteria comprises the essence of a successful salesperson,' said Andy Hon Hak-keung, head of retail distribution at HSBC and one of this year's judges. 'This year's contestants demonstrated that they have excellent presentation skills, written and verbal. They were equipped with good product knowledge and presented the benefits and values of the product or service they brought in effectively.' He said the competition benefited the sales industry in a variety of ways. 'The awards have established a high standard for the sales industry in Hong Kong and have led to the continuous improvement of salesmanship for more than 40 years. 'Without doubt they have achieved this aim, and they have had a profound impact on the development of today's professional sales culture. Salespeople now do not simply sell a product, they take the responsibly to 'dig out' consumers' needs and provide appropriate solutions for them to satisfy their wants and needs. The image of selling and marketing has became a prestigious profession.' The awards are beneficial to the companies and individuals taking part. Mr Hon said for individual companies, the competition was a tool to show commitment to staff development and, for individuals, the awards presented a good opportunity to review and refine their day-to-day sales practices, and it helped them improve their performance. In this era of information overflow, an outstanding salesperson played a vital role in enabling customers to make a proper decision or complete a satisfactory sale by delivering accurate product and market information, he said.