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APRIL 2018

FSU’s Professional Sales program continues to shine

Sales TransitionChuck Viosca was so impressed with the Florida State University professional sales students he met over the years at various intercollegiate sales competitions that he jumped at the opportunity to join the College of Business marketing faculty and FSU Sales Institute. Institute director Pat Pallentino sees Viosca’s hiring as a strategic move to elevate the already highly regarded program to the next level.

Viosca gave up his tenure-track faculty position at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where he’d taught for 16 years to fill the non-tenure track teaching faculty post. “When I was offered the FSU position, I felt like I was being called up to the major leagues,” said Viosca, who had started a much smaller sales program at Nicholls and created the Bayou Sales Challenge. “I was especially eager because I knew I’d be working with some great faculty and the top professional sales students in the country.”  

Founded in 2003, the FSU Professional Sales program has grown to be one of the nation’s largest, with more than 260 students who major in professional sales. More than 400 students take sales courses each semester.

FSU’s program has gained a stellar reputation, and Pallentino is frequently asked by business schools across the nation, and in places like Ireland and Italy, to give guidance on bringing their programs up to the same level. Faculty members at other schools often come to FSU’s campus for a firsthand look. They learn about the program by reputation and by observing FSU students excelling in their professionalism and skills at national and international sales competitions.  

Pallentino said by adding Viosca to an already impressive faculty, which includes associate marketing professors Leff Bonney and Willy Bolander, who are widely known for their leading-edge research on the sales profession, the program is aligning itself with the university’s and college’s quest for preeminence.

Graduates of FSU’s Professional Sales program continue to impress. They emerge from the program having had access not only to excellent faculty, but also the opportunity to participate in highly challenging intercollegiate sales competitions, including the annual International Collegiate Sales Competition hosted by FSU in Orlando. After they graduate, they land jobs with top companies, often out shining other members of the sales force, becoming top performers, Pallentino said.

Kim Keyser, a 2014 marketing and professional sales graduate and member of the 2013 FSU Sales Team, is one example.  She began working at Mission Pharmacal in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2015, rising to the position of professional territory sales manager in mid-2016 and winning a spot in the company’s prestigious Pinnacle Club in 2017.

“What I learned as a member the sales team has helped me be extremely successful so far,” Keyser said. “It is really amazing that everything I learned in the FSU Professional Sales program in college is such a real world set of skills.” 

Leanna Roll, also a marketing and professional sales major who graduated in 2011, likewise attributes her success to what she learned in the Professional Sales program. She has been a top performer at every sales job she’s had since graduation and currently is a customer strategy manager at Tribridge in Tampa, Florida.

“As a student, you compete against the best sales students in the country and are put in front of CEOs and other executives, so you learn to present yourself well, and that gives you a tremendous foundation and confidence to interact with people from all walks of life,” Roll said. “The Professional Sales program also has provided incredible networking opportunities and opened doors to every job I’ve had since graduating.”

As Pallentino is fond of saying, “When our students graduate, they get not just good jobs, but great jobs.”

He plans on continuing to produce graduates ready to excel in their fields. With the help of the institute’s faculty and its strategy for the future growth of the program, he believes they will.

By: Barbara Ash 

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