No Secret to Success of CMU Professional Sales Program

May 7, 2012  |  Posted by in Uncategorized

Ken Cherry Ken Cherry is Assistant Professor, Marketing and Professional Sales at Central Michigan University.

One of the most exciting parts of my job teaching and advising students in the Professional Sales program at Central Michigan University is preparing them for collegiate sales competitions.  As you may be aware, the CMU Professional Sales program utilizes Carew International’s DPS, APS, PTN and BCE curriculum in our classroom.  Each year our sales program students compete regionally and nationally in Pi Sigma Epsilon ( fraternity sales events, going up against major sales programs, including those at Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana and several MAC schools.

As a sales veteran who is relatively new to academia, I have been struck by the similarities between preparing for real world sales presentations and the preparation by our students for the Pi Sigma Epsilon sales competitions:

  1. Practice and Preparation: After students review the case provided them, we quiz them, and then we do a filmed role play of them selling the case to the buyer.  Finally, we critique them for what they did right and what needs improvement (just like Carew does in DPS sales training).  For our most recent competition, the students averaged 15 hours of preparation for their role plays.
  2. Active Listening: A majority of the points for these competitions is tied to finding the customer’s GAP.  Our students have to build a question plan, just like DPS, and get to their customer needs (GAPs).  This requires active listening and great exploratory questions so that they understand what their clients need.  We emphasize a talk/listen ratio of 20% talking to 80% listening.
  3. Handling Objections: These competitions always include an objection, and our students use the tried and true LAER process to explore and handle these objections.  Along the way, they are asking questions and building their value proposition so that they can eliminate any “Oh by the ways” as we call them in APS.
  4. Closing: Not all of these role plays turn into sales, but closing is the key to gaining agreement on next steps.  If students have followed their game plan, prepared, listened, delivered their value proposition and filled their client’s GAP, they either get the next appointment or close the sale.

The CMU Professional Sales Program was created less than four years ago and already we are a major player in collegiate sales competitions.  Using many of the principles taught in Carew’s DPS sales training, the CMU chapter of PSE has now won the last three regional sales competitions for the North Central Region (our students have taken first and second place the last three years, out of three years participating).  At Nationals, one of our students came in fifth place (against schools like Texas A&M, LSU, Florida, California, etc.) and we placed four of our students in the top 12 (out of 200 students who participated nationwide).  The CMU Professional Sales program still has room to improve.  Our goal is be number one nationally, and we will get there using these proven methods and our continued hard work.  The skills and concepts that our students learn through our Carew-based curriculum will be the key to them getting to number one.

The most exciting part of all is realizing that the skills and knowledge we are providing these students will facilitate continued success in the job market upon graduation and later as sales professionals with exceptional selling skills.

As part of our ongoing commitment to professional development, Carew International publishes a regular blog to provide timely insights for optimal sales performance.  To learn more about Carew’s incomparable sales training programssales leadership training and customer service training, visit our website at

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