Director's Corner

It is my honor to introduce you to the new Center for Sales Excellence & Customer Delight.

The main objective of the Center is to increase engagement with all stakeholders in the Professional Selling Environment. We envision the Center as the nexus for students, faculty, sales professionals and other stakeholders in order to meet the challenges facing the Sales profession today and tomorrow. The Professional Sales discipline is changing dramatically due to inbound marketing, social media, data analytics, marketing automation, smart phones, etc. These changes represent learning opportunities for all stakeholders and the Center plans to embrace those opportunities and add value to everyone’s journey. This journey of engagement and collaboration will be interesting!

Each month, I or another Sales Professional will provide thoughts on the issues and challenges we face.

- Vince Howe, Ph.D., Director


November 2018

Lots to report since my last update:  

The Center for Sales Excellence & Customer Delight is proud to announce that we have our first two sponsors: Syneos Health and The Select Group (TSG). Funding from TSG and Syneos will allow us to accelerate our sales professional activities and assist our students in preparing for their Sales Careers (e.g., hosting and attending sales contests, attending professional sales conferences, updating our role-play facilities and software, hosting events where recruiters and students can engage). Syneos Health’s contribution will also allow the Center to award our first Sales Scholarship to the Junior who wins our first Internal Sales Contest. Both TSG and Syneos Health will have their firm’s name engraved on our Founding Sponsor plaque that will be permanently placed in our Sales Center facility. Join me in saying THANK YOU to Syneos and TSG!!!

I would also like to thank Josh Glover, EVP Sales for nCino, for hosting our Internal Sales Contest and providing judges to assess the students’ Role-Play Internal Competition. This competition is a great engagement for all of us and clearly a great experience for our students. Again the winner of this Internal Sales Contest will win the first ever Syneos Health Scholarship. Given our PSE students’ performance in PSE Regionals in Atlanta (6 of 8 individual awards went to our PSE students), competition for the scholarship should be fun. PSE is a Professional Sales & Marketing Student Fraternity – more information on their accomplishments can be found in the Marketing Dept. newsletter and this website.

I recently attended our first ever University Sales Center Alliance (USCA) fall meeting in Terre Haute, Indiana (Indiana State University hosted…Larry Bird fame). We were admitted as Associate Members last May and honored at this meeting. Only 54 universities globally are members of USCA whose organizational objective is to enhance all Professional Sales stakeholders by sharing information on professional sales trends, technology, sales enablement, educational processes, and much more. Learning best practices from established USAC programs will certainly help to accelerate our learning curve. In addition, our membership in USAC has kept my phone ringing from firms looking for the best and brightest Professional Sales Students…a win-win for all.

Finally, be aware of our upcoming "Sales Enablement Technology Forum" to be held Wednesday, March 13 at 6:00 pm during Business Week. I would encourage all readers to attend and gather knowledge on one of the hottest topics in Professional Sales -- Sales Enablement. The sales profession is becoming more demanding due to the increased information available to the Buyer, the focus on Team Sales and Account Based Marketing. All of these trends and more are increasing the need for effective sales enablement, training and on-boarding processes. This forum will be a great nexus to discuss and share our experience with all Professional Sales stakeholders. More information is forthcoming…

- Vince Howe, Director, Center for Sales Excellence & Customer Delight


April 2018

For this month's Director's Corner, we have a guest contributor, graduating CSB senior, Sydney Payne. Sydney reflects on her Professional Selling major and the factors that led to her securing an excellent position with First Data. Congratulations, Sydney!

Wide-eyed and excited, I will be walking across the stage in May graduating from the Cameron School of Business. My career is about to begin! So many experiences and opportunities have led me to this moment and I want to fill you in on what I took advantage of during my time here at UNCW, what I wished I would have done differently and how to set yourself up to be employed before you graduate!  

The number one recommendation I utilized was building strong relationships with my professors. Although these CSB professors seem intimidating, highly intelligent (which they are!) and busy, they are humans too. They understand that we as students are learning constantly, overwhelmed by schoolwork and always worried about where we stand academically in the courses we take. The key to all the confusion is to—speak up! That is what office hours are for. Professors at UNCW encourage visiting them during office hours to answer questions and help you in any way they can. From my personal experience as a Sales Major, my core business classes were challenging. I struggled in accounting and finance courses, but what set me apart from other students was that I showed my professor I wanted to learn and be successful. I met with my professors when I stumbled through content.

My freshmen year, I would sit in class frustrated, confused and discouraged, constantly staring at the clock waiting for the 50-minute mark to hit so I could dash out the door. It was not until sophomore year when I realized “Wow, talking to teachers about what I don’t understand is way easier than struggling through the next test”. As I began taking my marketing courses, I started to become more interactive with my professors. Asking questions, providing examples and really becoming interested in my field of study. Dr. Lisa Scribner’s “Consumer Behavior” Marketing class fascinated me from the minute the class began. She allowed us to share weird facts about ourselves, discuss scenarios about habits and how those behaviors influence buying decisions. I raised my hand a lot in that class and decided that being engaged during the class was much more entertaining than staring blankly at a computer screen.

She recommended that I should attend the NYC Business Trip, which is an annual trip in December to visit companies that deal with Marketing whether that is about digital advertising, media, news, trendy start ups or huge fortune 250 companies. This trip gave students a sneak peak of what it is like to work for these companies. I decided to go, not knowing anyone else attending other than Dr. Lisa Scribner. The trip was amazing! I met new friends, explored the streets of New York City and also opened up the door to how I am employed now.

The last company visit was with First Data, a payment processing company who provides innovative business software and solutions to help merchants become more successful. Robin Ording, VP of Leadership Development at First Data spoke about First Data’s mission to help merchants! I was captivated from this foreign industry of payments I had not learned much about, but also intrigued at a company wanting to make other businesses become more successful with their resources. She then challenged the room to pitch their latest product line Clover. My group was the last to share our “sales pitch”, with a packed room in a big time NYC office, I dared to be BOLD and 100% myself. I enjoyed every second standing up in front of the group rattling off imagery of the use of Clover, and I was confident although I did not have much product knowledge. After the meeting concluded, Dr. Lisa Scribner said, “Sydney, I have someone I would like you to meet”… I perked up in my business suit and walked with her to the table. With a big smile on my face and a firm handshake, I was standing in front of Tony Marino, EVP & Head of Human Relations. She spoke highly of me as a student and the next question Tony asked was if I would like to work for the company over the summer as an intern! I was shocked that the mock sales pitch and recommendation from my professor led me to an exciting summer ahead.

 That summer, I worked as a product intern for First Data in Atlanta, Georgia and I loved every minute on the job. I learned to be bold, and ask questions because this was the time to shine and show this massive company I could bring them value in some way! In conclusion to this story, I have accepted a full-time position with First Data starting in July as a employee in the Sales Associate Program. I am thankful and ecstatic to have the opportunity to be employed by such an amazing company. 

This too could be your story! Finding an opportunity to learn from companies that are doing great things can impact your learning outside the classroom. Having an internship can show you what want to pursue after graduation or even what you do not think you are passionate about. Having these experiences outside that classroom, not only allows you to learn new concepts, but also it allows you to apply your learning to techniques and skills the company you intern with. If you do not know what you are passionate about, Business Week is a great way to experiment with different industries and career paths. Tons of CSB alumni, CEO’s of companies, Industry specialists and recruiters donate their time to feed you advice and knowledge about what opportunities are possible after graduation.

In addition to meeting professionals in fields you may be interested in, the Cameron Executive Network is a perfect way to get connected with a mentor that works in an industry you are curious about. Not only does it allow students to network with professionals, but also it allows a mentorship, which may be the most valuable thing to have throughout college. Having a mentor has helped me navigate through big decisions, sharpen my networking skills and challenge me to invest in self-educating myself.

Although my time in the business school seems very successful and fun I do wish for a few things I could have done differently. I wish I were more involved in the business school by joining PSE, which is a business fraternity. I feel like being involved in a community outside of school with my peers would have made me feel like I had stronger relationships with people I will be graduating with.  I also am really excited about the new Sales Center of Excellence and Customer Delight. I think that this addition will put a target on CSB Sales students and provide many opportunities for internships, jobs and sales role-play opportunity to enhance the overall experience for business students. I do wish that as a sales student I would have had more practical role-play, or sales pitch practice so with the addition of this sales center, It should play a huge asset in students development of sales skills.

Overall, my experience in Cameron Hall was unbelievable. The faculty, staff and all my peers turned a student who was not very excited about school, into a student who constantly wants to learn something new about sales.

March 2018

For the first installment of the Director’s Corner, I am summarizing a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (March – April 2017), "The New Sales Imperative" (Toman 2017).

Today's Business-to-Business Buyer (BTB) sales professionals feel that their customers are in the driver's seat. The Internet, search engine optimization (SEO), social media and other inbound marketing methods have empowered today's buyers with information to satisfy their own needs. Current BTB leads are believed to be two-thirds of the way through the buying process before the selling organization becomes aware of their existence.

Cross-functional buying centers are growing in size to ensure the right products are purchased, i.e. the average buying center team today consists of 6.8 personnel. Further, studies by SalesForce.com have found that 65 percent of business buyers are likely to switch brands if the vendor does not personalize communication to their company. One could argue that today's sales personnel are facing a diminishing role in the purchasing process.

Toman and his colleagues totally disagree. This access to expanding lakes of data, need for personalization, diverse buying centers, etc. have actually elevated the need for sales to make it easier for the "buyer to buy." Tomorrow’s sales reps and managers must avoid focusing on getting customers to buy from their firm and instead concentrate on how customers make decisions, i.e. understand the "Journey" the buyers go through. Marketing and sales must collaborate to support the customer journey by providing the right info at the right stage of the journey. Their engagement with buyers must be unbiased, credible, reduce indecision and compel actions. Sales personnel must adopt a consultant's role and engender trust to convert leads and create long-term relationships.