Marketing majors and other students from a cross-section of study disciplines at Clemson University are sold on a newly opened Sales Lab’s potential to jump start their careers.

Sales Lab, Marketing,

Marketing assistant professor Ryan Mullins monitors a Sales Lab mock interview remotely.
Image Credit: Patrick Wright

Located on the second floor of Sirrine Hall, the Sales Lab operates under the auspices of the Marketing Department in Clemson’s new business college. It’s a training ground for students seeking guidance on how to enhance their communication skills for a career in sales, or otherwise.

Funding for the lab, which opened last fall, came from State Farm Insurance. And according to marketing faculty member Ryan Mullins, the lab has already proved to be a great learning tool for students to hone their sales delivery and interviewing skills.

“As we continue to break down myths of what the sales role is all about, more and more students are gravitating to careers in sales. It’s a very autonomous and lucrative career choice that requires critical thinking and emotional intelligence. For the most aspirational students, it is often times a stepping stone to move up within an organization,” Mullins said. “Our lab helps prepare students for these roles through state-of-the-art video and audio capabilities where students’ mock sales and interview scenarios are recorded. We have the ability to review and critique, which enables students to identify their weaknesses and strengthen their value propositions.”

Among students benefiting from the lab’s technology are those seeking sales certificates as part of their degree. The three-course sales certificate sequence involves real-world experience and leadership training. “It gives our students a competitive edge against other job applicants,” Mullins said.

For senior marketing major Josh Davis, holder of a nationally accredited sales certificate, the new sales lab has been a valuable tool in preparing him for life after college.

March 1, 2016 - Marketing's new sales lab has been constructed with state-of-the-art capabilities. The labís seven mock offices are all equipped with video and audio recording for live viewing and review, flat-screen monitors for displaying customized presentation content, and internet access to provide support for any selling format (i.e., phone, skype, etc.). These tools are also used in support of the sales certificate courses. The lab is located in Sirrine Hall.

Senior Zac Cockman hones his delivery skills during a mock interview in the Sales Lab.

“The mock interview rooms and video capabilities are a great set-up for what a real business scenario would be,” said Josh, from Colorado Springs, Colo. “It’s a real confidence builder in that it teaches you how to interact in real situations. You’re able to see what you’re doing wrong and correct it before you get into a real-world situation.”

Mullins said students from across various learning disciplines are finding value in the sales program. The business school’s marketing department is, in effect, cross-selling the sales certificate program and sales lab to other colleges across campus as a way to provide students with a holistic learning experience.

“Students need breadth of education across domains and the sales program can help close that loop,” said Mullins. “Many students have great technical knowledge, but there’s a communication component that is a key success factor to most every career. We find that many of the technically skilled students have great ideas, but need help in communicating the commercial and financial potential of their ideas to non-technical audiences.”

Zac Cockman, a senior from Greenville, is one student who has seen the light, and benefits, of the sales lab. In fact, his experience in the lab changed Zac’s career direction.

“The lab definitely influenced my career track. Although I’m in an engineering discipline, I’m more likely going to be designing a sales pitch and implementing it than going the traditional industrial design route,” said Zac, an industrial engineering major.

“The lab has taught me many things. Among the most important is that no matter what business you go into, speaking the language of any business with confidence is crucial if you’re going to succeed. The lab is a great confidence builder in that it helps you develop, then strengthen, your own delivery style. Today, I’m actively interviewing in the sales world. My experience at Clemson and the sales program have prepared me well for a sales career in a business I feel passionate about.”

Mullins said the sales program’s lab and certificate program are two examples of how Clemson is grooming the next generation of sales professionals.

“Student growth and enrichment is first and foremost in our sales program mission. The lab provides cross-functional benefits to a student’s education here, and the sales certificate is a competitive advantage in their career searches. These are just a few of the tools students can take advantage of in building their futures,” Mullins said.

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