Photo from 2018 promotional video
Members of the Professional Sales Organization (PSO) are used to going their own way.
Professor Tony Petrucci acts as a faculty advisor for the group, but day-to-day, the group functions independently. Led by an executive board of upperclassmen, the organization provides members with comprehensive sales and negotiation training—skills that anyone could develop and use in their professions.
Everything from how to exert personal influence in daily life to sophisticated B2B deal negotiations is taught and practiced, oftentimes in competitive competitions like the recent sales role-play competition, virtually hosted by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
“Two members of our organization placed second and third in the whole competition!” says Dane Gilmer, director of operations for PSO and a junior marketing major. “This was huge for us, considering a last-minute change the night before that informed competitors of a shortened time of individual performing from 15 minutes to 12 minutes, on top of being a first-time virtual competition for all seven participants.”
In addition to applying the skills in competitions that mimic real-world situations, PSO aims to get students, regardless of major, minor or school/college affiliation, involved and building professional networks.
“The emphasis has been that you don’t have to walk away with a sales major to be a sales representative at the end of the day,” says Gilmer. “We’ve had a variety of students from marketing, accounting and we’ve even had a neuroscience major. The skills you build are not limited to a career in sales. What we’re teaching is not just meant for this 15-minute role play. We’re trying to promote this idea of selling yourself.”
Being a member of PSO has helped students get comfortable with this type of confidence. “For me personally, when I came in freshman year, I did not really know how to talk to people in a professional sense,” says Ly’Nese Setorie, a junior marketing major with a minor in tourism and hospitality management. “One of the things that PSO has taught me through our role-plays and ‘speed sells’ (presentations) is how to be able to present yourself confidently.”
The speed sell is a 90-second ‘pitch’ about your personality and the skills you bring to a team or a workplace for an employer. Learning to deliver that sell helps people remember who you are and what differentiates you from the pack.
“I’m somebody that really likes to ramble on,” Setorie says. “So learning that and being able to talk about myself in my professional experiences in 90 seconds has been super, super helpful. I’ve used it in so many interviews. I think that’s my biggest takeaway from our tangible skills.”
The virtual format of the past two semesters has posed challenges for PSO but also created opportunities along the way, including professionals they could invite for their speaker series.
“We’ve had a good mix of industries that have been able to speak, like tech and insurance companies,” says Setorie. She also serves as the philanthropy chair at PSO. “A few weeks ago we had Tom James, who works in the fashion industry. Zoom has definitely expanded who we could invite.”
So far, the organization has had companies such as Samsung, Aflac, RLS, Mass Mutual, Complete Document Solutions, Equitable Advisors, Hajoca, Tom James, Paycom, YRCW, Granite, Insight Global, Gartner and more, speak to their members.
“To me, this group represents the best Fox has to offer—not only what we offer to students that want to be involved outside of the classroom, but also to employers looking for ‘real-world ready’ entry-level candidates,” says Meg Wherrity, associate director of employer partnerships at the Center for Student Professional Development.