From Bauer to Big Brown: UH grad impresses UPS with sales techniques
Listen up, all you graduating Coogs about to embark on the adventure of finding a new job. The skills you picked up at the C. T. Bauer College of Business may be exactly what your future employer is looking for.
Just ask Krista Borders (’99).
A marketing and management double major, Borders decided to enroll in a sales course back in the early days of the Program for Excellence in Selling (PES). She was so captivated that she signed up for another class. Just as she was graduating, package-delivery giant UPS spotted her résumé and asked her to interview for a sales position.
“They forewarned me that it would be a panel interview, and there would be some role playing,” Borders remembers. “To make things even more difficult, the role plays were for fictional companies and characters, which made it nearly impossible to prepare for the interview.” Borders had no experience in sales at that time, aside from the role-playing exercises completed during the PES courses. The stakes had never been higher — the end result would be a job offer as opposed to a grade.
During the interview, she called on the SPIN selling techniques she learned at Bauer. At the end, one of her interviewers escorted her out of the building to ask if she had been coached by a UPS employee. She recalls his response when she told him that she had no such mole. He said: “‘Wow! You said all the right things and did everything that we train our sales people to do! Where did you learn that?’ I responded, ‘You know, I just did what I have been taught to do by the University of Houston’s sales program.’”
As luck would have it, “UPS had been teaching its sales force the SPIN selling techniques, a popular method at that time,” Borders says, “and had even recently issued everyone a copy of Neil Rackham’s ‘SPIN Selling Fieldbook.’”
Borders ultimately received a job offer and has held a variety of sales, marketing, pricing and business-development positions at UPS over the last 12 years. She currently works closely with sales, developing strategies to win and retain some of her District’s largest customers, often negotiating multi-million dollar contracts.
Married to Theron Borders (’98), the lifetime member of Delta Sigma Pi has an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, teaches an online MBA marketing course and plays on a women’s soccer team. Recently, she returned to campus with a UPS team to hear a sponsorship pitch by PES students. UPS was so impressed by the program that it became a corporate partner at the $10,000 level. “The fact that UPS is willing to become a sponsor during a time when every dollar spent has to be justified in terms of our return on investment speaks volumes about the value we see in the program,” Borders says.
The Bauer alumna believes that PES has made tremendous progress since her days on campus.
“They have done a lot of great things over the years. They added a sales-management-type course, where the focus is no longer solely about being an individual sales contributor but rather preparing for a career in sales as a manager, director or vice president.”
To this day, Borders recalls a comment from a Bauer professor that “really hit home.” Even if you do not end up in a sales job, he told the class, you are destined for a lifetime of selling yourself, of persuading someone to buy into your ideas or point of view.
Whether you are in college, just entering the job market or simply going about the business of life, that’s excellent advice. Learning to sell yourself may be the greatest technique of all.
By Wendell Brock