Selling program champions relationships

Nick Berryman | Lariat Photographer
Leawood, Kan. senior Sara Thompson speaks to underclassmen during a luncheon in Cashion Academic Center Wednesday. Eight students described their internships and their journey into Professional Sales.

By Meghan Hendrickson
Staff Writer

Baylor’s Center for Professional Selling does not teach students how to make a sale, but how to assess the needs of a customer and help them find successful solutions to meet those needs. This was one of several thought-provoking ideas that was shared by eight senior professional sales students to underclassmen Wednesday.

The professional sales major of the Hankamer School of Business hosted an invitation-only luncheon on the fifth floor of Cashion Academic Center for underclassmen who expressed an interest in learning more about the major and the value it holds.

Professional sales is a major that stems from the marketing major at Baylor and is limited to only 18 students for the purposes of competition, small classes and effective learning.

Students interested in majoring in professional sales are required to take pre-requisite courses and be selected through an application process.

Fort Worth senior Sarah Shive attended the luncheon last fall and is now a professional sales major expecting to graduate in May.

Shive helps recruit new students to the Center for Professional Selling.

Two weeks ago Shive competed in the Baylor Business Sell-Off, an individual-level sales competition open to business students, and received an invitation to interview with Dell after the company witnessed her sales skills at work during a role play scenario.

“I have an interview in two weeks,” Shive said. “If that job opportunity comes through, it would be such a full circle because I never thought I’d be a sales major and get a job at a sales competition. To me, it’s proof that this is a successful program.”

Shive said the professional sales major doesn’t close any doors, burt rather gives students more opportunity. The eight students presenting at the luncheon each came from different backgrounds with different interests, personalities and strengths, but she said because they found their passion in professional sales, each one of them has been equipped with the skills they need to be successful.

“At Baylor we are taught Christ-centered sales, meaning we don’t want to push a product – we want to build a relationship,” Shive said in her presentation at the luncheon. “I believe that being learned in that perspective of sales already puts you a step ahead.”

Dr. Andrea Dixon came to Baylor from the University of Cincinnati last year to serve as the executive director of the Center for Professional Selling.

Dixon said the reason she does what she does is because of the students.

“I see in a four-month period of time how much they change from where they started just a few months ago,” Dixon said. “They would have had PowerPoint slides with 80 words, but part of my job is getting them to change their mindset to see that it’s not a presentation — it’s a conversation.”

Dixon said one of the most important things about professional selling is building value into a product based on the point of view of the customer.

Rockwall junior Emily Kirwan is a double major in nonprofit marketing and international business, but attended the luncheon because she felt it was an opportunity to learn something valuable.

“I realized that I need to start working on myself to become better at what I want to do by preparing now,” Kirwan said. “One of the students said that no matter what you do in business, it still involves sales. I think that’s true. I think it’s important that I learn to sell myself as a business professional.”

The luncheon provided an opportunity for underclassmen to receive wisdom and practical advice from their senior peers.

“Each one of those students provided reassurance that they’re where God wants them, but they started several majors ago,” Dixon said. “It’s normal to go through the process in college of trying different suits on — we’re telling you to try them on even faster and try more until you find the place that feels right for you.”