SLU sales program celebrates five-year anniversary

Southeastern’s professional sales program celebrated its fifth anniversary on May 5.

The program is designed to provide students with skill sets to make them stand out in the job market with skills such as consultative selling and building client relationships. It has been named one of the top sales programs by the Sales Education Foundation and was accepted as an associate member of the University Sales Center Alliance in 2022. 

Assistant professor April Kemp credits Northwestern Mutual and Smitty’s Supply Company with funding and support for the sales program. The program has since gotten support from 13 different companies. 

“Northwestern Mutual was the first company to partner with us and make a commitment to us making a sales space to train students. We worked with Steven Dugal and Paul Hodge from Northwestern Mutual to develop a relationship and they saw the value in the training we wanted to provide. Through getting them on campus, we were able to get that commitment,” Kemp said.

The support from the program received allowed for the creation of the Professional Sales lab in Garrett Hall. The lab includes three rooms where students can role-play with each other to practice skills related to business. 

Senior marketing major Emily Stark credits the sales program with teaching her to sharpen her business skills and develop her character.

“Looking back at when I first joined the sales program, I had no idea the impact it would have on my future self. Over the past two years, I have learned more than just ‘how to sell.’ My professors and peers in the program have taught me many important life skills, such as how to present yourself in a professional manner, how to be adaptive in your environment and think quickly on your feet, the importance of listening and building strong relationships, how to build your own personal brand, and most importantly getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” Stark said. 

The program provides a variety of activities to train and develop students’ abilities through mentorship, professional networking events and competitions. In addition, 200 students a year are taught in their professional sales classes. The sales concentration consists of three courses: personal selling (MRKT 321), advanced professional selling (MRKT 421) and sales management (MRKT 425). 

In addition to activities, the sales program hosts Career Fair, Biz-Connect (an internal role-play sales competition) and the Southeastern Sales Challenge each semester. Last fall, they hosted the Lagniappe Regional Sales Challenge. Other events include professional development speakers, mentor networking days and an annual golf tournament put on by the students. 

Recently, the program got permission to offer a Sales Leadership Certificate that students in other majors can get by taking some of our courses. Students recruited into the sales team are encouraged to be friendly, self-motivated and coachable. 

“For any students interested in joining the program, my one piece of advice is to just say yes. Say yes to the opportunities that you are given because not everyone will get them. Saying yes to not only joining, but also competing and traveling for competitions, having mock interviews, taking on a leadership position, and all the other events this program offers is the best way to challenge yourself,” Stark said.

For more information about the professional sales program, visit their page on the Southeastern website.