Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the sales and distribution arm of Northwestern Mutual, has been selected as America's Best Sales Force by Sales & Marketing Management magazine. The Company's 7,500 Financial Representatives tied with Cisco Systems for first place in the magazine's annual ranking, which was published in the July edition of the magazine. (Results also were posted on the magazine's Web site http://www.salesandmarketing.com/ ).

"It is a great tribute to all our representatives and specialists in The Network to be recognized at a national level. This accolade confirms what we have known for a long time -- Northwestern Mutual has hired, trained and supported the best people selling the best products," said Chairman and CEO James D. Ericson.

Northwestern Mutual has been included among Sales & Marketing Management's Top 25 Sales Forces in four of the past five years, and eight of the past 13, and has been rated number one among life insurance companies every year that the rankings have been published. This year, the magazine specifically cited Northwestern Mutual for excellence in its extensive field training program as well as its high sales force retention rates.

Recognition of Northwestern Mutual comes at a time when the Company has recently completed reassessing the value of its brand and the role that its field force plays in maintaining long-term relationships with clients. The research overwhelmingly validated the important role played by its representatives in providing expert advice and innovative solutions.

As a result of this research, Northwestern Mutual recently branded its distribution system the "Northwestern Mutual Financial Network" to better capture the full range of insurance and investment products and services currently being sold by its representatives.

"Our field force name may be 'new," said Ericson, "but, in reality, Northwestern Mutual has been offering its policy owners financial services solutions for almost two decades through Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated and, more recently, through The Frank Russell Company, one of the world's premier investment management firms."

While Northwestern Mutual will continue to focus on the long-term relationship building that characterizes its sales strategy, the Company will also continue to develop new products and invest significant resources to sales train its representatives.

"We are fiercely committed to continuing to be the premier provider of life insurance and a leader in the larger arena of financial services," said Ericson. Throughout its 143-year history, Northwestern Mutual has consistently developed products and services to meet the changing needs of its clients. In 1968, the company began offering a blended life insurance product, Extraordinary Life, and in 1969 introduced disability income insurance. The Company established local Investment Specialists in 1982, introduced a series of mutual funds, Mason Street Funds, in 1997 and developed a comprehensive long-term care product, QuietCare, in 1998.

About Northwestern Mutual Financial Network

Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, through its 7,500 Financial Representatives, provides expert guidance on insurance, investment products and services, retirement and estate planning, education funding and employee benefits. The Network has more than 350 offices across the country. It is consistently ranked one of the "Best Sales Forces" in its industry in Sales and Marketing Management magazine surveys.

About Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual, the nation's leading provider of individual life insurance, has always received the highest possible ratings for financial strength from Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch (formerly Duff & Phelps) and A. M. Best. Besides life insurance, the Company and its subsidiaries also provide annuities, mutual funds, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance. In its category, it was named the most admired in the world in Fortune's latest corporate reputation survey. Among its majority-owned subsidiaries are The Frank Russell Company, the investment management and advisory firm, and Robert W. Baird and Co. Incorporated, the securities brokerage firm.

             How to Attract and Retain Sales Representatives
                         10 Key Tips for Success

  1) Offer unlimited income potential.
  2) Give them independence, autonomy and flexibility.
  3) Develop top-notch training and development.
  4) Provide excellent products and services.
  5) Build and maintain a solid Company reputation.
  6) Make them smart about your customer.
  7) Listen and learn from them.
  8) Create strong alliances between them and corporate.
  9) Keep them informed on key issues.
 10) Recruit the best talent:  excellence attracts excellence.

Source: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network -- "America's Best Sales Force," according to Sales and Marketing Management magazine.

SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

Contact: Deanna L. Tillisch of Northwestern Mutual, 414-299-2705

Website: http://www.salesandmarketing.com/

Website: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/about/newskit