Sales lab offers professional training opportunities


Courtesy of Dr. April Kemp

Sales professional Jeff Brown and senior marketing major Ashley Murphy participate in the Spring 2020 Sales Competition in one of the role-play rooms that have recording technology. The Professional Sales Lab allows students and professors to review footage from the role-play rooms and give feedback.

The College of Business is home to a Professional Sales Lab that will help prepare students for working in sales. 

Located in Garrett Hall, the lab took two years to prepare in terms of planning and funding. Dr. April Kemp and Dr. Tara Burnthorne Lopez, co-coordinators of the university’s sales program, worked with a Sales Lab Committee to prepare the lab for students. 

Kemp explained why there was a need for a sales lab at the university.

“A recent Harvard Business Review article reported that ‘more than 50% of US college graduates, regardless of their majors, are likely to work in sales at some point,’” said Kemp. “Dr. Kemp and Dr. Lopez’s connections with local and national industry recruiters and professionals, as well as their alumni advisory board, also provided evidence of employer demand for students with professional sales skills.”

The lab was funded through several donations and grants, according to Kemp.

The Professional Sales Lab was funded by private donations through commitments from Northwestern Mutual and Smitty’s Supply,” stated Kemp. “Funding also included an $88K Louisiana Board of Regents Enhancement Grant as well as a $35K matching Southeastern Student Technology Fee Grant to support technology and equipment for space.”

Following the creation of a sales concentration for marketing majors, the lab contributed to the university’s developing sales program.

“The Professional Sales Lab is a key part of an effort to build a professional sales program for Southeastern students,” explained Kemp. “The first step was to create a sales concentration approved for inclusion in the 2017-2018 academic catalog. The second step was to build a dedicated sales facility to enable hands-on, interactive sales training.”

Kemp explained how the lab will contribute to students’ success in sales training. 

“The Professional Sales Lab enhances the quality of curricular offerings and instructional methods by addressing the following needs: First, students need opportunities to practice skills through role-playing,” mentioned Kemp. “Second, students need to be challenged to apply their knowledge through interactive teaching techniques in a professional environment, and third, students need to be exposed to and trained in the latest technology.”

Kemp described the different components of the new lab and how they can help students prepare for a future in sales. 

“First, the lab role-play rooms offer participants a degree of privacy and separation from other students not possible when conducting role-plays in a classroom,” explained Kemp. “Second, the students gain practice in a more realistic setting (small office, conference room, reception area). Third, the audio/video feeds from the role-play rooms to the lab allow non-participating class members to learn by observation without influencing, obstructing, or interfering in the exercise. Finally, the lab is with video recording equipment that will allow students to review and analyze their performances, targeting areas for skill improvement. These videos can be shared with instructors, mentors, coaches, or even employers for review and feedback.”

The lab is also not exclusively for students within the College of Business.

“While students in the professional sales concentration get priority use of the lab facilities, students in majors across campus take sales courses and use the lab,” said Kemp. “The space is available to the approximate 2,000 students in the College of Business but also potentially available to students across campus through a partnership with Career Services for events and interviews in the space. The audiovisual technology is available for use by request.”

Brielle Ricca, senior marketing major, mentioned how the lab has been beneficial to her preparation for a career in sales. 

“I plan on pursuing a sales career in the future, and the sales lab has tremendously prepared me for it by providing a real-life sales setting and allowing students to get a feel for how a typical day in sales would be,” said Ricca. “It is very important for business students to have access to resources like the sales lab because it allows students to have real-life practice and be prepared for when they get a career. I am thankful I got to utilize the sales lab because it has helped me grow so much within my college career.”

Ashley Murphy, senior marketing major, explained how she makes use of the lab.

“I have used the sales lab to practice for role-playing and speed selling competitions,” said Murphy. “The lab has five different rooms, one is a classroom where we have our sales classes, training, and events with different sales professionals and the others are used for role-plays, which allows us to practice with our classmates. What I found most helpful was being able to practice with my fellow classmates and get feedback on how I can improve. I’m looking forward to having a place to prepare for interviews as well as the internal sales competition in the fall.”

Kemp discussed how this lab differs from the marketing/analytics lab, which already exists within the College of Business.

“The difference in the two labs is that the marketing lab focuses more on students who are interested in going into digital, social media, or marketing analytics careers,” explained Kemp. “The marketing lab space has mac computers and is set up like a digital marketing firm space whereas the sales lab is set up to accommodate sales courses, conference-style presentations, and interactive role-plays.”

For a virtual tour of the Professional Sales Lab, visit