The Professional Sales Concentration at the Naveen Jindal School of Management kicked off a full slate of fall 2018 events recently with a Speed Sell competition, followed by a presentation from renowned sales expert and author Mark Hunter. Both events were key opportunities to reinforce the learning that takes place in the classroom.
Hunter, whose book High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results (New York: Amacom, 2017) is ranked No. 16 in Amazon’s Telemarketing category, spoke about how to reframe the concept of sales in such a way that it does not matter what one sells, but rather why one sells.
“There are three P’s you need to be concerned with,” he said in his keynote address Aug. 28 in the Davidson Auditorium. “The first P is ‘passion.’ The second P is ‘people.’ When you’re passionate about people, the third P takes care of itself — ‘profit.’ ”
Earlier that day, Hunter had served as a judge in the Speed Sell competition, in which students had only two minutes to impress potential recruiters and executives with their confidence, communication abilities and energy. In essence, the students were selling their own talents and skills.
The competition was broken into two divisions — one for each Advanced Personal Selling (MKT 4332) class instructor. Dhuha Qazi took first place in Semira Amirpour’s class, and Shelly Meter took top honors in Jerome Gafford’s class.
Both Qazi and Meter are seniors pursuing marketing degrees with sales concentrations and sales certifications from the University Sales Center Alliance, of which UT Dallas is a member.
After Hunter’s presentation, Qazi and Meter discussed what they had learned from him, the competition and the breakfast session during which he had shared some strategies for sales success.
“It’s really, really cool to get to engage with those kinds of people, understand where sales is headed and get different peoples’ takes on those kinds of things,” Meter said. “Some of them align with what we’ve already learned, and some are just kind of a new way to think about things.”
Hunter’s presentation also confirmed for Meter what she had done in winning the Speed Sell competition.
“In the competition, I hit on two of the key things he mentioned during his keynote: having that customer obsession and really being empathetic to the person,” she said. “What we learn here and [in] our sales classes is transferable to anywhere in life — including how we sell ourselves to employers and friends.”
For Qazi, Hunter’s presentation reinforced what she had been learning in class.
“With his approach on how important customer service is — listening and building relationships with customers … you create an experience with them and a lifelong relationship rather than just a one-off thing,” she said.
How a salesperson treats people, Qazi said, is crucial to success.
“You can be selling anything,” she said, “but how you engage with people — the relationships you make, the way you talk to them — that’s what makes the impact, that’s what they’ll remember and that’s why they’ll keep coming back to you. That’s what we’ve been learning in class, and that’s what I can really take away from Hunter’s presentation.”
Dr. Howard Dover, director of the Center for Professional Sales at the Jindal School, spearheads all sales-related events and competitions at JSOM. They not only help reinforce classroom teachings, he said, but also introduce JSOM sales students to potential employers in an environment that showcases their abilities and education. These experiences help JSOM sales students be fully prepared to be sales leaders when they graduate, he said.
“Mark Hunter had expressed an interest in being part of our sales program for over a year,” Dover said. “Having a well-known sales expert engage with our students during Speed Sell and then give a semester kickoff keynote was a unique experience for our students.”
Part of what makes experiences such as the Speed Sell so unique is that they closely mimic real-world scenarios, Dover said. In the sales industry, top sellers are rewarded for their performance. Dover rewards sales concentration students who perform well in competition with leadership roles. This past March, he appointed Jordan Murphy, president of the Student Sales Board, which assists the Center for Professional Sales cultivate corporate partners and sponsors. Murphy is a senior emerging media and communication major who is minoring in marketing with a USCA sales certification. More recently, Dover appointed him to an account manager role.
Murphy’s responsibilities include nurturing relationships between the Jindal School and companies such as Eli Lilly, IBM and North American Plastics with support from the University’s development team. Such roles allow students to practice the relationships they will be managing in their careers and earn points toward their certifications. More importantly, they get to network with potential employers and display their talents for them.
“I joined the program last fall, and I just continue to be amazed by the amount of exposure we get to people like Mark Hunter,” Murphy said. “It has opened my eyes to understand how willing people are to help prepare future sales leaders in the industry.”
— Jimmie R. Markham