By Patrick Kelly
Negative stereotypes associated with careers in sales was the topic of discussion when alumni of the College’s School of Business visited on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The presentation, entitled “Demystifying Sales,” featured four salespeople, including two alumni, who spoke about their experiences in the field and offered advice to students interested in sales positions.
David Gabauer, ’04, who graduated with a degree in management and currently serves as a risk management consultant for Rue Insurance, moderated the panel. The panel itself was comprised of Conrad Chan, Kellie Miller, ’01 and Steve Schumer. Chan is currently a Sales Manager for AT&T, Kellie Miller is a Key Accounts Manager for L’Oréal Paris and Steve Schumer serves as a global sales enablement leader for IBM.
The event began with the panelists discussing the characteristics that they feel make up a good salesperson. “A salesperson needs to understand how to run a business,” Chan said. “They need to have a sense for what the business may need.”
Schumer built off Chan’s comments by saying, “You have to have a passion for what you do.” He continued by saying that he values a client-centric attitude and integrity as characteristics of good salespeople.
Miller had her own take on the ideal characteristics of a good salesperson by introducing what she calls the “four D’s.” “I look for drive, dignity, dedication and determination,” she said.
The discussion continued with the panelists talking about the pressure they sometimes feel from sales quotas. “If you work hard and put the time in, the results will come,” said Miller. AT&T Sales Manager Chan noted that he feels quotas are about setting personal goals. “You make your own quota,” said Chan, who mentioned that he often aims for sales figures above his set quota.
The presentation drew to a close with the panelists talking about their own approaches to sales and giving advice to students. All three panelists agreed that the relationship with the client is key.
“Relationship trumps everything else,” said moderator Gabauer. This idea was echoed by Chan, who said, “You need to want to help somebody.”
“What is the quality that you bring to the relationship?” asked Miller. She continued by saying that it is important for the salesperson to “fit the needs” of the client in the relationship.
Professor of management, marketing and interdisciplinary business Al Pelham concluded the event by reminding students of the resources available to them. He directed students to a free Behavior and Skills Assessment offered by the college, which is normally $700. Acknowledging the College’s wide variety of resources, Schumer said, “I wish I had the opportunity to take a sales course when I was an undergraduate.”
“Demystifying Sales” is the latest edition of the Business School’s 3rd Wednesday Program. These programs bring alumni and students together to discuss careers in the business field. The Business School plans three of these events per semester.