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March 12, 2014

Marketing forum “True confessions: Lessons I learned as a sales rookie” to be held March 25

10“True confessions: Lessons I learned as a sales rookie” is the title of a panel discussion to be held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Tuesday, March 25, from 4–5:30 pm in Schneider Hall Room 100. The event is free and open to the public.

“There is a distinct transition from student life to work life,” said Jerry Kollross, assistant director of the Center for Sales and Sales Management. “Our students are very curious to learn how their life will change when they move from being a student to being a professional.”

This year’s panel members—all recent UW-Eau Claire graduates—are as follows:

  • Elle Fox, ’13, account manager, GrayBaR
  • Emma Carlson, ’12, technical recruiter, TEKsystems
  • Aaron Severson, ’13, territory manager, Hormel
  • Kyle Thorpe, ’13, financial representative, Northwestern Mutual Life.

Kollross and Dr. Robert Erffmeyer, director of the Center for Sales and Sales Management, will moderate the discussion. They will ask panel members questions focusing on their personal lives as well as their professional ones. Some of the questions panelist will address include the following:

  • What was the best part and the most challenging part of transitioning from college to career?
  • What was their first sales call like?
  • How much pressure do they feel to make their sales quota? How do they manage that pressure?
  • Which UW-Eau Claire courses best prepared them for what they are doing now?
  • What have they done to make their transition to a new community easier?
  • What advice do they have for graduating seniors?

“In class we talk about what life after college might be like, but bringing back recent graduates to tell it like it is gives students a more accurate picture,” said Erffmeyer. “Although the panel is composed of individuals working in sales, their comments should be of value to all students nearing graduation.”

The panel is the first program in the 2014 Hot Topics: Marketing Forum series. The event is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire Department of Management and Marketing, Center for Sales and Sales Management, and the UW-Eau Claire Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE).

For more information, contact Dr. Bob Erffmeyer and Jerry Kollross, Department of Management and Marketing.

Meet the panel participants

Emma CarlsonEmma Carlson, TEKsystems

TEKsystems, the largest private talent management firm in the world, provides IT staffing solutions, IT services and talent management to organizations. As a technical recruiter for TEKsystems, Carlson develops recruiting strategies for clients that are designed to identify qualified candidates. Once a candidate is placed, she manages them while on assignment; assessing and investigating contractor related problems, and administering performance counseling, coaching, and disciplinary measures when necessary. Carlson also maintains relationships with industry contacts to provide customer service, gain industry knowledge, and get referrals and sales leads. “Like in all sales jobs, communication is key,” said Carlson.

Elle FoxElle Fox, GraybaR

GraybaR is a national leader in electrical and communication/data distribution. As an account manager for GraybaR, Fox sells everything from wiring devices to energy saving LED lamps to end users like schools and retail businesses. Every day at Graybar is different, according to Fox. Some days she makes cold calls and prospects for new business. On other days she quotes orders and provides support to current customers. Still other days find her out of the office doing in-person sales calls to new and current customers. “Not only is every day different, but there is a great variety in what I sell every day,” said Fox, “This keeps things interesting and motivating!”

Aaron SeversonAaron Severson, Hormel

Hormel Foods is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded meat and food products. One of Hormel’s key accounts is SpartanNash, a Fortune 500 food distributor whose core business includes independent and corporate-owned retail stores throughout the United States, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Azores, Bahrain and Egypt.

As a territory manager assigned to SpartanNash, Severson presents new items and promotional activity at the corporate level. He also works closely with independent groups who utilize SpartanNash as their wholesaler.

Severson approaches sales with the goal of developing his business and showing his customers the road map to growing their businesses. “Before you know it,” said Severson, “That one sale will become five you didn't expect to have."

thorpeKyle Thorpe, Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual is a financial services organization whose products include life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, mutual funds, and employee benefit services.  

Thorpe began his career with Northwestern Mutual as an intern his junior and senior years of college. After graduation, he started working full time as a financial representative.

“Simply put, I help people,” said Thorpe. He builds long term trusting relationships with clients by helping them become confident financially. “I take the ‘what if’s’ in life out of the equation when it comes to building financial security,” he said.

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