The Sales Institute at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Gary W. Rollins College of Business is officially open for business.
After more than two years in the planning, the Sales Institute has the mission to train and educate students entering the sales community and connect with local businesses. A ribbon-cutting took place on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the institute’s third-floor location in Fletcher Hall, introducing both the Sales Institute and the Business Skills Laboratory.
“At the end of the day, a good salesperson is a trusted advisor. That’s what we’re training kids to do here, be a trusted advisor to their customers,” said Dr. Christopher R. Plouffe, the first Gary W. Rollins Endowed Chair in Sales.
Plouffe spearheaded the design and launch of the sales curriculum and programming along with the design and architecture of the Sales Institute’s governance and corporate partners structure.
The Insurance Group of America is the institute’s lead sponsor. CEO Jamie Noe said he has confidence in its future.
“My goal of this is that 10, 15 years down the road, sitting under a tree, there’s hundreds of kids in sales organizations and getting opportunities across the country and that this is the No. 1 sales institution in the United States,” Noe said.
“We are truly here, with tons of humility and grateful, for the opportunity to hopefully push this university and the Sales Institute in order to make it something very special for the university, for the city, for the state and the region.”
Students enrolled in the Sales Institute can earn two different professional sales credentials:
- A minor in professional selling. With 12 hours of required coursework, it is open to UTC majors, with the exception of those majoring in marketing.
- A concentration in professional selling. With nine hours of required coursework, this credential is specifically designed for marketing majors.
The first graduates of both the minor and concentration in professional selling received their diplomas in May 2022. All members of the first cohort of students in the professional selling program now have full-time sales positions—and all received multiple offers.
The six Business Skills Laboratory suites in the Sales Institute feature a state-of-the-art, cloud-based video recording and dissemination system to be used across the curriculum. The Interact/Cynergy IT system is considered the gold standard in such systems.
The Sales Ready curriculum and coursework includes a full-semester course in business negotiations. Despite the critical importance of negotiations in sales, especially business-to-business—the focus of UTC’s sales curriculum—less than half of sales curriculums and programs worldwide offer this course and training in business negotiations.