New Professional Sales Lab Simulates Real Sales Experience
Thanks to generous donations from TEK Systems, Carahsoft, and SAP, the marketing department has developed and implemented a professional sales lab for its students. Located on the first floor of Zane Showker Hall, the professional sales lab is a soundproof conference room that can be accessed by four different classrooms.
First introduced in the fall semester of 2013, this lab allows students to develop selling skills by conducting student-to-student role plays. In the lab, there is a dual-screen computer, a video camera, microphones, and a large conference table and chairs. The recording equipment, linked to classroom projectors through video conferencing software such as Lync, allows students in the classroom to view students role playing in the professional sales lab. While watching, students are asked to complete forms that evaluate their peers on their professionalism, level of engagement, use of materials, and general attitude while working in the professional sales lab.
The professional sales lab is a safe environment where students can implement lessons learned in class during situations that closely mirror real-world, professional interaction. According to senior Marketing student Alex Grizzell, “The sales lab is definitely helpful. You know the class is watching you, but it takes a lot of the pressure off of you by not having to see or hear them. The lab enables us to simulate a real sales pitch without any of the distractions that usually occur in a classroom.” Grizzell and senior Marketing student Rachel Sturm are pictured above working in the lab.
Student review of their role-plays makes it easier for them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their selling technique. Marketing professor Dr. Joe Derby explains, “The ability for students to critically analyze their sales role-play is one of the most valuable resources provided by the professional sales lab.”
For students preparing to graduate, the professional sales lab is a boon. The lab provides sponsoring recruiters the chance to see students in action and gives students valuable interaction time with hiring companies. Furthermore, the lab’s distance communication technology provides for increased student – recruiter meeting frequency, including the capability for students to role-play with sales recruiters without either having to travel.
The professional sales lab is one of many tools being used to prepare students for marketing careers and is an example of the focus on experiential learning within the College of Business.