Haslam Hosts the First Meeting of the Professional Sales Forum

April 11, 2018

The Haslam College of Business’ Professional Sales Forum hosted its first meeting April 4-5. More than 50 professionals attended, with a keynote address from Phillip Fulmer, director of athletics at the University of Tennessee.

“Our keynote luncheon speaker is a leader who knows more than a little bit about winning and sales,” said Tom Van Dorselaer, the forum’s executive director. “I can’t think of a better example of effective relationship building, integrity and closing the sale than Coach Fulmer.”

Fulmer discussed his time as coach of the University of Tennessee Vols, and the role that selling his strategies and recruiting students played in his success. Additional presenters included Buddy Lewis, senior director of sales at PepsiCo, Ron Anderskow, global president of Helen of Troy Beauty, and six Haslam marketing faculty.

The forum began in August with two sponsors and an internal sales competition for students at the end of September. In just eight months, it has grown to 18 sponsors, sent a team of students to a national sales competition, and marketing faculty members have begun integrating sales education into the college’s curriculum.

A group of students from a new class on corporate social responsibility presented their project with Mondelez International at the forum as well.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that a group of professional salespeople were able to bring such a large number of sponsors on in such a short amount of time,” said Chad Autry, head of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management. “The fact that the Professional Sales Forum was just an idea less than a year ago and it is now filling a classroom with professionals from across the country speaks to their drive and sales expertise.”

On its second day, the forum held an internal sales competition judged by forum members with 50 students competing. Students Rachel Shoonheim and Lynn Fults were the overall winning team, followed by Matt Larsen and Ryan Mercado, and Katie Crutcher and Hunter Morrow-Elder. Those competitors not graduating in May will have the opportunity to continue to hone their skills and compete in the fall at Haslam and at the national level.

“Our students are learning how to uncover needs, work through objections and get to the heart of the issues that will convert their buyers through these exercises,” said Dan Flint, the faculty lead for the forum. “Our sponsors also have a lot of fun watching them work and helping to teach them professional sales skills.”

Professional Sales Forum sponsors enjoy a host of learning, networking and recruiting opportunities. Contact Tom Van Dorselaer or visit the Professional Sales Forum website to learn more about the benefits of becoming a sponsor.