A team of undergraduate marketing students in a person selling class – part of the marketing concentration in NC State’s Poole College of Management bachelor of business administration program – ended their fall 2012 course with a grade, class credit, plus a $5,000 award divided among the five team members.
The award, presented to the team making the most professional presentation in a classroom competition, was arranged by Lin Cashwell, regional vice president of technology services for Milner, Inc., which has its company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
The same competition is being offered to students in the spring 2013 semester, said Joseph Pirozzi, instructor of the course (BUS 466). Cashwell, who is based at Milner’s offices in Morrisville, N.C., had interviewed and hired several students who had taken the sales class in the past, Pirozzi said.
Employer Impressed with Poole Alumni’s Sales Skills
“Apparently, he was impressed with their sales training and our sales projects and contacted me to discuss my class and the possibility of a competition. That discussion led to creation of the $5,000 Milner Professional Sales Award for my personal selling class, to be awarded to the winner of the semester sales project,” Pirozzi said. Cashwell initially committed to funding the award for two semesters.
Students were evaluated on their ‘final sales call’ in which they applied all the material and training that was covered in the course of the semester, Pirozzi said. “They were graded in six different areas with the ultimate objective being a sales order,” he said. Cashwell and Pete Vorencamp, principal of GAP Marketing, together with Pirozzi served as the customer/management evaluation team.
“I truly enjoy these projects as this is where I get to enjoy the ‘fruits of my labor’ through the presentations,” Pirozzi said. “It’s the culmination of everything we covered throughout the semester, where the hard work of the students comes together and they get to strut their stuff.”
Winners of the fall 2012 competition are (left to right in the photo) John Daidone, Trevian White, Taylor Sparrow, Leamon McLamb, and Josh Little. The team represented Nomacorc of Zebulon, NC, in the project challenge.
Cashwell said he has seen an ‘erosion in professional selling skills” over the course of his 26 year career with his firm, and came up with the idea for the competition to ‘create an environment in which people were focusing on selling.’ He found synergy with the team competitions that Pirozzi has held in his class for over a decade.
“This fit perfectly with what I was trying to do,” Cashwell said. He also said he liked what he saw in the Poole College interns he has hired over the years. “I had three alumni of the program, who have since moved on to other cities, but I really appreciated the work ethic that I saw in them. They had to earn their own money, put themselves through school, were fostered by their parents to work and achieve their goals.”
He also noted that with Baby Boomers retiring and the Millennials coming into the workforce, the competition gave him a chance to meet the students earlier in their academic career, to get to understand what motivates them, and to do some recruiting for internships and full time positions.
In this course, the students learn about personal selling, and then in their final project, they have to sell the judges on their product. Pirozzi has held these types of competitions as part of the class for 11 years.
Role of Sales in Marketing
“Sales is part of marketing and actually is the crux of the process,” he said. “Without successful sales there is no need for other marketing efforts, product development, or supply chain. Actually, there is no company. By the way, sales also applies to our everyday lives; everyone is selling throughout their day.”
His overall mission in all of his classes , Pirozzi said, “is to prepare my students to make a successful transition from the world of academia to that of the working world. Taking them from behind their school desk and putting them behind their business desk. This class includes learning, understanding and executing the fundamentals of successful selling to prepare them for a successful career in B2B sales.”
Feedback from some of the students indicates that the competition helped them to see themselves in a real world situation.
“I keep in touch with many of my former students,” he said. “The project revolves around the student and not the task or the company so without a doubt many of my students have utilized in business what they’ve learned. I’ve received feedback over the years from students expressing their appreciation for the opportunity of the project exercise. I just received some from a couple of students who were in the fall class.”
Students Find Value in Real World Project
“This project gave me a first look at the competitive world of sales,” said John Daidone, one of the fall 2012 award winners. “With the Sales Award, I feel like our project team worked for an actual sale with a company.”
Sparrow said, “The project was very beneficial to me since I’m pursuing a career in sales. My team worked well together. The #1 thing I learned is to close the sale when you have the opportunity and not always wait until the presentation is over.”
“I enjoyed the project and the added compensation allowed us to really do our best,” McLamb said. “Working with this team was also the best group experience I’ve had at NC State. Real-world feedback was very valuable.”
Little concurred that it was a valuable experience, adding, “I would have loved to have smaller presentations in class (preferably in place of tests) leading up to this project. Thank you for taking time to organize this event.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed the project. (It) gave me a chance to step out of the box and experience something new, sparked an interest in pursuing sales as a career,” White said.
When asked about what he has seen draws a person to selling, Cashwell said, “financial success, although I see with the Millennials it’s not that significant. They are more about working as a team, social interaction, and (see selling) as a vehicle to move up with a company into management, as one of the training grounds one has to go through.”
Selling also is attractive for those who don’t want to “be stuck in an office, who want to be able to get out and interact with people,” he said.
As regional vice president of Milner, Cashwell said what motivates him is developing people. “I’m not the type of manager who sits in the office. I’m in the field quite a lot, working with reps as they go on appointments, telling our story. And because some of the reps are younger, I try to help them understand what our value proposition is, to help them be a consultant, to recognize the business processes that may be broken and how we can help them fix it. It’s solutions selling.”
About Milner Inc.
Milner is a full service provider of business-to-business solutions that enable organizations of all sizes to improve efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. Our consultative approach and long-term partnerships allow Milner to offer a wide range of innovative solutions to address business challenges. Our clients can be assured that by working with Milner they will receive state-of-the-art products, the latest technology, and dedicated service from a trusted provider and a long-time industry leader. Milner, Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in Norcross, GA; providing technology solutions on a national scale since 1987. For more information, please call 800-875-5042 or visit Milner Inc.
- John Daidone, Cornelius, NC
- Josh Little, Charlotte, NC
- Leamon McLamb, Raleigh, NC
- Taylor Sparrow, Raleigh, NC
- Trevian White, Greenville, NC