It takes more than knowledge to make a sale. It requires experience, skill, empathy, and an ability to adapt on the fly. In Bryant’s Sales program, students from all academic areas take their skills beyond the classroom and learn to use them in whatever career path they choose.
Madison Gifford '19, now a Senior Business Account Executive at Comcast, one of the largest multi-channel video service providers in the United States, credits the program as a key factor in her success. “I never imagined I would be in a position like this straight out of school, but thanks to the Sales program it fell into my lap.”
Adaptability is key
In addition to innovative coursework and an openness to experimentation, the Sales program, which includes the Sales minor and other elements such as Bryant’s Sales Team, incorporates a variety of experiential learning opportunities, including roleplaying, competitions, job shadowing, interactive symposia with sales leaders, and adaptability training with an improv expert.
“I've always seen myself as a facilitator of learning as well as a professor,” explains Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing and Director of the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition. “I try to direct the students to the right resources, help to coach them, and walk them through applying different tools and techniques.”
“Every single program at Bryant has some kind of overlap when it comes to what we teach in sales. Across every single area of study, there is a way to partner that creates synergies and add value for our students. We work together and help each other.”
Exploring that range of techniques and resources helps students build experience and gain a competitive advantage, no matter the path they take. “You want to be well-rounded, especially in the business world,” notes Sociology and Marketing major Hannah Bloomwald ’21. “The things we’re learning are important for any field. Knowing how to be persuasive and make a good argument are skills everyone can use.”
“Every single program at Bryant has some kind of overlap when it comes to what we teach in sales,” Boyer notes. “Across every single area of study, there is a way to partner that creates synergies and add value for our students. We work together and help each other.”
Supplementing with real-world situations
Nicholas Fratto ’21 a member of Bryant’s competitive Sales Team, says his competition experience reinforces what he’s learned. “The Sales program has given me an opportunity to practice and learn the sales process in real-world situations,” he says. “I like being able to supplement what I’m learning in class with something that takes a different approach.”
The hands-on approach the program takes, says Boyer, lets students delve into the field to see how what they’re learning applies to the real world. “The research shows that when we can give the learner autonomy, and we can show them how what they're learning is relevant to their life and their work, then they're much more motivated to learn,” she says. “They retain more and their performance is higher.”
"Being able to train with artificially intelligent robots right in your hands wherever you go is a game changer.”
“The Sales program is extremely hands on and we’re very lucky in that aspect because sales is really something you have to learn by doing,” states Gifford. The wide range of experiences she trained for, she says, helped her stand out in a crowded job market. “Joining the Bryant Sales Program started out as something fun and challenging I wanted to do and has since become one of the main reasons I was able to become a senior account executive at a multi-billion-dollar corporation.”
Into the future
A firm believer in incorporating innovation and technology into the classroom, Professor Boyer recently introduced a new way for her students to prepare for the future. The RNMKRS (pronounced rainmakers) app she helped develop allows students to role-play the sales process while an artificially intelligent bot listens, adapts, and responds in real time, providing important feedback on the students' performance.
In November, Bryant will host a first-of-its kind sales competition using the RNMKR app, with competitors from around the nation. “It's critical to stay at the leading edge,” says Boyer. “Utilizing new technology helps students learn in different way and it helps us to be better teachers.”
Using RNMKRS, which was beta-tested by Boyer's students, builds empathy and allows students to hone sales skills in a safe, judgment-free environment. It’s also a lot of fun, the students say. “Doctor Boyer’s RNMKRS app is truly going to change the sales training industry completely,” says Gifford. “It’s extremely cutting-edge technology and something that is affordable for everyone to implement. Being able to train with artificially intelligent robots right in your hands wherever you go is a game changer.”