New Sales Club Is Catalyst in Selling “Sales” at Isenberg
January 03, 2017
It’s a Cinderella story in the making. In their first immersion in a major collegiate sales competition, four Isenberg undergrads representing the school’s recently launched Sales Club were third runners-up at the venerable Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition (NISC) in November. The Isenberg students excelled in a field of 19 colleges and universities and 120 students. In the contest, at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, students (four and five per institution) role-played 10-minute videotaped sales calls with private industry “partners” serving as fictional sales prospects.
“Many of our opponents meant business,” recalls Isenberg marketing lecturer Matt Glennon, who serves as the Sales Club’s advisor. “Some of them represented college programs that, unlike Isenberg, offer minors in sales,” he continued. “In spite of that, two of our four students made it to the semifinals in the four-round competition.”
With that stellar performance in the bank, the Isenberg students have secured an invitation to compete against nine other colleges in the National Collegiate Sales Competition next spring. The event, at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, is the largest and oldest sales role-play contest in the nation.
The NISC gathering at Bryant also hosted a full complement of company recruiters. “Our contestants all received internship and job offers,” notes Glennon. For marketing department chair Bruce Weinberg that was no surprise. “Chase Career Center director Nic Wegman has been telling us for years about multiple, lucrative job offers in sales that await our graduating seniors,” he emphasizes. “We need to do a better job of selling those opportunities to them and of introducing them to sales.” Sales, he adds, has not been central to PhD research in marketing. At research universities like UMass Amherst, that may result in the subject’s neglect in undergraduate curriculums.
Weinberg and Glennon hope to see that rectified. In the course that he currently teaches—Fundamentals of Marketing—Glennon makes a strong case for the relationship between sales and marketing and for the mobility in marketing that a background in sales can confer. “Among other things, experience in sales offers fantastic preparation for product managers,” he remarks. In both areas, he says, you have to understand and empathize with people, i.e., your customers. Apart from that, he adds, the starting salaries for many sales positions are “outstanding.”
Isenberg does periodically offer the course, Sales and Distribution Strategy (taught by another lecturer, Peter Gracey). But Weinberg and Glennon hope for a more concerted approach to the subject. “I would love to develop a truly interactive sales course,” muses Glennon. “There would definitely be demand for that.” In the meantime, the Sales Club, with its ten students and growing, will continue to figure as a prime catalyst. And through its participation at the national competition this spring, the club, and sales at Isenberg, is sure to gain further momentum.