Business savvy and performance under pressure are key to sales success – and that’s why the College of Business’ new Global Sales Lab will deliver a major advantage to FIU students.
Inaugurated October 19, the Sales Lab features 12 sales training rooms, each equipped with a camera and microphones, and recording and playback capabilities. Students can conduct mock interviews, participate in executive training sessions, work on role-play exercises and record sales presentations, all of which can be archived for review.
These capabilities all serve to increase students’ exposure to the sales profession. The technology-enhanced rooms also allow real-time streaming for competitions, sales course assignments, interviews and peer reviews.
It’s a central part of the College of Business’ Sales Program, which focuses on sales leadership development, professional networking and competitive training. For the Fall 2015 semester, 450 students took the basic sales class.
“Our goal is to connect students with companies and jobs,” said Nancy Rauseo, senior lecturer and coordinator for Sales Programs in the Department of Marketing.
Business leaders support Lab’s resources.
Four naming sponsors are on board: ADP, Axxis Solutions, C.H. Robinson, and Northwestern Mutual – The South Florida Group.
“For local, national and international businesses, the Sales Program and Lab serve as a talent incubator,” said Andres Campo, principal for Axxis Solutions.
Evalena Behr, a recruiter at Northwestern Mutual, one of the Lab’s Naming Sponsors, said she will be using the lab to interview students, participate in the sales tournament and contract potential interns.
“It’s also going to serve as a resource for the students, an area they can come to for studying or doing homework,” Behr said.
Students leverage new opportunities for hands-on learning.
“Now we can watch ourselves and take notes,” said Sean Velasquez, vice president of the Sales Society executive board. “We can really see how we need to improve our sales strategy, the tone of voice, the posture and body language, or if we’re using too many filler words.”
Naming Sponsors can use the Global Sales Lab to set up interviews and recruit, boosting their brand awareness among FIU’s sales students. Executives and recruiters can watch students’ archived videos and determine which are best suited for internships or jobs.
Panther Sales Tournament showcases the lab’s capabilities.
The Panther Sales Tournament, where students use role-playing techniques to sell a product to a corporate executive, will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the Global Sales Lab. During the 15-minute in-person meeting, students must showcase a product and its positive impact on the business, as well as build a rapport with the buyer, address any questions or objections, and ultimately close the sale.
In the fall 2015 tournament, the first held in the Global Sales Lab, students’ sales calls were streamed live to judges sitting in another conference room. Students were tasked with selling an iPhone 6 to buyers from multiple industries.
In her presentation, student Andrea Saladrigas highlighted the importance of communication between employees and vendors to the owner of three restaurants, its impact on the company’s supply chain, and the phone’s security. After some negotiating on the price, the deal was done.
“You stood your ground to make the deal,” said Matthew May, Sales Manager at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, who played the buyer. C.H. Robinson is also a Naming Partner.
The judges pointed out one area where more work is needed: handling buyers’ objections to the price or the product’s qualities. “For most, the response came down to ‘trust me’,” said Mark Crofton, global vice president at SAP Sales Academy.
FIU’s Panther Sales Tournament is one of the only U.S. programs to include a Spanish-language track, where the selling and buying is conducted in-language and students are judged by Hispanic executives. In spring of 2016, the Sales Program will host the first-ever Global Bilingual Sales Competition, inviting students from national and international universities.
“It’s all about preparing FIU students to take high-paying jobs in the professional sales field, with the help of some great business partners,” said Rauseo. “We’re making a difference in a student’s professional career and personal life.”
The program’s final exam is a one-on-one exercise where they pitch and try to sell the Salesforce app to a corporate buyer. The Global Sales Lab will make those sales calls and other assignments more dynamic, students agree.
“You can judge each other in real life and get feedback at the same time,” said Franklin Guijarro, a marketing major who will graduate in 2016 with a Sales & CRM Certificate. “You can send the videos to employers – or they can access them remotely – and companies can watch your exercises, your performance.”
Who won the Panther Sales Tournament?
- Andres Gonzalez
- Vanessa Miranda
- Jonas Erthal
- Hailey Gerards
- Andrea Saladrigas
- Lauren Vincent
- Andrea Saladrigas
- Nicolas Norena
- Susan Crispin
- Jose Cruz
- Wilmer Marquez
- Eryka Melo