PES Graduates Earn Second Place in 3M National Sales Competition,
Participate in Unique Course on Sales for Social Impact
Four students from the Program for Excellence in Selling (PES) at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business recently placed second in a national corporate responsibility sales competition held by 3M in St. Paul, Minn.
Spencer Allen, Rebekah Elliott, Pilar Fanaselle and Jessica McBride — all advanced graduates of PES — made up the team that earned one of the top spots among seven universities nationwide. As part of the competition, the students enrolled in Sales for Social Impact, a pilot course with curriculum focused on advanced sales planning and implementation in a challenging market, Uganda.
“For each of us — the students, the professors and the 3M partners — the Sales for Social Impact, funded by 3M, was one of the most challenging and inspiring experiences of our lives,” said Carl Herman, SEI director of operations and one of the course’s instructors.
“We were challenged to produce a very high quality result and inspired by the opportunity to change at least a small part of the world,” he added.
With only eight students broken into two teams, the class analyzed market segments and customer behavior, determined product value, identified distribution channels and key risks, positioned against competitive options and developed a sales plan. Compatible Technology manufactured the sales product, a manual grinder.
“This has been the most challenging, yet satisfying course, that I have taken within my college career,” McBride said. “I used my networking, marketing and sales skills that I developed in PES and applied them to the Sales for Social Impact course, allowing me to further develop myself as a business professional in my upcoming sales position with 3M.”
McBride’s teammates agreed, citing the experience as one of the most defining of their college careers.
“This class forced us to answer our own problems and find innovative ways around common business problems,” Elliott said. “The course incorporated every aspect of business from sales and entrepreneurship to supply chain and microfinance. Every class I’ve taken at Bauer prepared me us for this experience, giving us the tools to create a competitive and sustainable sales plan for Ugandan citizens.”
The sales curriculum, developed by Acara Institute, followed corporate business processes used at companies such as 3M, a sponsor of the program.
“This is real,” said SEI corporate relations director Susana Rosas, who taught the course with Herman. “Teams are provided with tools and assistance, but this is a complex sales challenge that has no clear answers. It integrates a number of concepts we strive to teach and places it in a real-world environment. The teams are learning skills that are typically not available to students or even to entry-level employees of most organizations.”
3M is one of 27 corporations that currently partner with the Program for Excellence in Selling and their umbrella organization Sales Excellence Institute.