MOON TOWNSHIP – Robert Morris University students, faculty, and alumni came together in Ferris Hall to celebrate the grand opening of the new Center for Sales Excellence.
On Jan. 29, an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Center for Sales Excellence, which was funded by John Waldron from Waldron Private Wealth with Fastenal and United States Steel as corporate partners.
Dr. Dean Manna, director of the sales center, noticed that various studies showed that there was less appeal for sales related careers from students. This resulted in the launch a new sales center. Supply chain management was also another industry that was not being fulfilled.
“There was a whole gap of individuals [in the last 20 years] that didn’t want to get into sales or they thought sales was not a glamorous profession when in fact it is probably one of the most important professions out there and because they are the ones that make things happen, they’re the ones who makes people buy their products or buy their services,” said Manna.
The Department of Marketing in the School of Business has a new center that will support the sales certificate program, a 15 credit undergraduate program. So far, there are 75 students involved, and a hundred students are expected to join by the end of the year.
“We are building [the program] with the hope that the industry will come to us,” said Manna. “A lot of our advisers have hired several of our students.”
Dean Manna has been at RMU for 46 years. He manages and oversees the curriculum of the sales certificate program and works with the advisory board so that they can provide insight on how to improve the curriculum. He has seen the program change over the years.
“When I first came here, we were a basic curriculum where we taught subject matters important to the marketing field, and our goal was to continue to improve our curriculum,” said Manna. “Our goal is for our students to know how to build relationships with customers and to have them think of business as being problem solvers.”
Principles of Marketing, Managing and Selling of Brands, The Psychology of Sales, Consultative Sales, and Advanced Professional Selling are all part of the certificate coursework. According to the website, this program can be part of an undergraduate degree or independent coursework.
Nina Guenther, president of the American Marketing Association, is a student at RMU who is enrolled in the certificate program and is currently in the second course.
“I learned SPIN Selling and how to apply it in a sales setting or in a job interview,” explained Guenther. “I am currently learning role-playing and ethics in sales. [The Sales Certificate program] will help me to understand how to sell in a future career and give me experience in doing so through role-plays and relationship selling.”
The Center for Sales Excellence is an interactive space for students. According to Jade Lu-Zoller, a Computer Information Systems major who works at the IT Help Desk, the space includes six Chromebooks, a TV and a wireless HDMI kit.
It also uses Google Meet, an online video conferencing program. Another feature is the Google Jamboard, which includes a camera and an interactive whiteboard for students to share their ideas and collaborate with people internationally.
“With the new Jamboard that was added to the center, I will also be able to talk with other sales students from other universities and discuss topics with them on how their universities teach sales and incorporate different methods into my own selling experiences,” said Guenther.
Before the ribbon-cutting, various speakers expressed their gratitude and shared their thoughts on the process of opening up the center to students, including President Howard, Dr. Jill Kurp, department head of Marketing, Brian and Shea Waldron from Waldron Private Wealth, Dean Michelle Patrick as well as Dr. Manna.
With the center now available to students, Dean Manna outlined several plans for the future. This includes having an associate membership with the University Sales Center Alliance by Feb. 25.
According to Manna, the membership would make RMU the only school in the Pittsburgh area to obtain the associate membership.
Regarding Manna’s central idea for success in the sales industry, he emphasizes the importance of problem-solving and communication skills.
“I teach the idea ‘don’t go in it with the intent of making money’. The money is going to come if you’re good. You don’t earn it by selling. You earn it by looking at the people, defining what the problems are, and coming up with solutions,” said Manna.