MSU Sales Leadership Minor Preps Students for Careers in Business-to-Business Sales

A 100 percent placement rate for graduates would be enough for many collegiate advisors to close the deal on a sales program with prospective students.

​But for advisors with the MSU Sales Leadership Minor, a perfect placement rate is only part of the pitch.

​​Ask Jennifer Rumler, managing director of the Sales Leadership Minor program and internship coordinator for the Department of Communication - both within the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

​Rumler can call up tons of facts and stats for students who inquire about careers in sales-particularly those that result from the 18-credit minor.

​"When we let students know that 70 to 80 percent of all entry-level jobs for college graduates are going to be sales jobs, that's pretty convincing," says Rumler. "Then I ask students this: 'do you want to go into a job and wing it? Or do you want to have sales education behind you and ramp up?'"

​Rumler came on board in 2008 to help facilitate the rise of the program to national prominence as one of the best sales leadership programs in the country. Today, the now 7-year-old program stands as the only of its kind to leverage the strengths of two nationally-ranked colleges: The Eli Broad College of Business and the College of ComArtSci - as well as multiple corporate partners.

​Up to 50 students are accepted in the program each semester, for a total of 100 each academic year. The program promotes and enhances the field of professional selling and sales management through education, research and outreach. Dozens of corporate sponsors from national and international arenas invest in program, providing both financial support and internship opportunities for students.

​"It's a win for companies, and it's a win for our program, and it's a definite win for our students," says Rumler. "About 40 percent of our students go into their senior year with a full-time job lined up because of these types of relationships."​

​MSU alum Evan Kline is among those who experienced a tremendous "return on investment." The 2012 graduate in advertising specialized in sales communication, and stepped into a job almost immediately after commencement - at which he was a featured speaker for the College of ComArtSci.

​"The program prepared me for my career by helping me to learn to dig deeper," says Kline, a biopharmaceutical sales representative with Amgen. "The program also enhanced my perception of a sales career by providing meaningful content and relationships."

​While at MSU, Kline was among students bringing home the hardware in national sales competitions. Students and teams from MSU Sales Leadership Minor program boast strong performances at both fall and spring competitions, and have garnered four national team sales championships in the last eight years.

​Recently, an MSU student team added more trophies to the case with first and third-place wins in the 2016 National Collegiate Sales Competition in Kennesaw, Georgia. The tournament-style competition is the largest in the world, attracting 134 student competitors from 67 universities across North America.

​Journalism senior and sales leadership minor Abbie Newton placed first in the individual competition, while marketing senior and sales leadership minor Patrick Conway reached the quarterfinals. Their combined efforts propelled the MSU team to third among participating universities. Two additional students from the MSU Sales Leadership program played vital roles in the team's success, including finance major Emmie Ashwell and marketing major Matthew Mergener. Associate Professor of Marketing Douglas Hughes coached the team, assisted by marketing doctoral student Blake Runnalls.

​Those types of successes, Rumler says, represent the caliber of the Sales Leadership Minor program as well as the dedication of students pursuing sophisticated sales careers through MSU.

​"That success doesn't come without a lot of hard work and dedication," says Rumler. "Our students put in time in and out of the classroom, and understand that sales people are the front line of any business. In reality, nothing happens in any company until something is sold."