According to a 2016 study more than 50 percent of American business school graduates get their first job in sales but most either resign or are terminated from it. In response to this growing need for qualified and interested sales professionals, the Haslam College of Business recently launched the Professional Sales Forum.
Modeled after the success of Haslam’s Supply Chain Forum, the Professional Sales Forum will bring sponsor companies to Knoxville for a two-day discussion about the field, with numerous collaboration opportunities between students, faculty and companies throughout the year. The college hopes to interest students from all business majors and connect them with companies from a wide range of industries.
“Effective sales skills are not just for sales people,” says Tom Van Dorselaer, the forum’s executive director. “These are important skills that all business people should have. We all sell, whether it is for a new process or a breakthrough idea or even interviewing for a job.”
The new forum grew out of a strategic direction from the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management with guidance from Van Dorselaer, formerly an associate director of Haslam’s executive MBA for global supply chain. Van Dorselaer brings more than 30 years of sales experience at Procter & Gamble to the position.
“It’s extremely exciting for me to help the Haslam College of Business build stronger partnerships with companies interested in growing their profitability through accelerated sales performance,” Van Dorselaer says. “For years, UT has been known for our top-five ranked supply chain programs which focus on driving efficiency and reducing costs for organizations. Professional selling focuses on the other half of the profit equation, which is building revenue.”
Dan Flint, Regal Entertainment Professor of Business in Marketing, serves as the forum’s faculty lead with support from associate professors Mark Moon and Alex Zablah, both of whom have sales backgrounds.
The college is in the process of expanding its offerings in sales for business students and has already launched several classes in the discipline. A select group of students also will compete in both an intracollegiate sales competition and Florida State University’s international intercollegiate competition this fall.
Professional Sales Forum sponsors enjoy a host of learning, networking and recruiting opportunities. Current sponsors of the forum include 21st Mortgage Corporation, Berry Global, Cintas, E&J Gallo Winery, Mondelez International, Pepsi Co., Ryder and UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute.