Sales program honored as one of the best

July 3, 2012

By Rachel Zolfo ’14

The Professional Sales Program at the Foster College of Business Administration is ranked as one of the top university sales programs for 2012, according to the Sales Education Foundation.

Dr. Mark Johlke, director of Bradley's Professional Sales Program, said the program has frequently been recognized for its success in preparing students for sales careers since its founding in 2004.

“Our program is continually recognized for its success in training students to be effective salespeople,” he said. “We aim to provide our students with the skills and knowledge wanted most by today’s firms.”

The sales program boasts a placement rate of 100 percent for its graduates this year. While other graduates can struggle to find careers within their fields, many of Bradley’s sales students receive several job offers by the time they finish. Some even begin receiving offers as early as their junior year. Major firms such as Northwestern Mutual, ConAgra and Enterprise heavily recruit students from the program.

From the beginning, students experience hands-on training and one-on-one coaching from their professors, allowing them to develop their talents in a personalized environment. Throughout the program, students cover topics like professional sales tactics, management skills and business marketing.

“The training that they receive is similar to what they would be taught at a professional firm,” Dr. Johlke explained.

The program stands out because of its use of role playing, in which students act out sales calls based on real-world scenarios. Students may act as either the seller or the buyer and the experience provides them a unique perspective.

Clay Deal ’11 graduated from the program and is now an integrated marketing specialist for Xapsis. He said he found the role-play assignments strange at first but ultimately beneficial.

“The role play assignments we go through are a little intimidating, but are invaluable,” he said. “I’ll be honest, I thought some of the situations demonstrated in the role plays were a little odd, or didn’t seem very plausible … until I started making sales calls in my new career. All the crazy things that happened during our simulated sales calls happened to me in the first month I was on my own.”

Melanie Ramsey ’12, another graduate of the program, said that the role playing exercises also helped her to develop excellent skills in communication.

“I am no longer afraid to present in front of people,” she said. “I just started with The HON Company on June 4 and we have already had to present in front of upper management. Due to the practice I had in school, I was able to pass the presentation with flying colors.”

Many graduates agree the program not only prepares them for a future in sales but for any situation they may encounter in the business world.

“The base skill set that Dr. Johlke and Dr. Jason Garrett [an assistant professor in marketing] teach you can be adapted beyond sales,” said Deal. “It’s an approach that can be used in any negotiation or management setting.”