Since its founding in 2009, the CSUF Mihaylo College Sales Leadership Center has provided support, networking and applied career readiness experience for Cal State Fullerton students of all majors seeking careers in sales or seeking to improve their personal brand. Brad Anderson, the center’s new director, discusses his vision for the center and how to maximize the resources of the center for career advancement.
In a consumer-driven economy, sales ranks front-and-center in the U.S. economy. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 14.5 million Americans were employed in sales, nearly a 10th of the total labor market. As the economy shifts due to technological and societal trends, the need has never been greater for entrants into the sales force to be prepared for the current realities and best practices of the field.
But even if your career goals don’t include sales, all professionals in today’s competitive environment need to be able to sell their personal brand to prospective employers and clients.
“Anyone can benefit from learning to sell. In any vocation, you sell,” says Brad Anderson, director of the CSUF Mihaylo College Sales Leadership Center. “Selling is the act of persuading others to take action or respond in a certain way. This can be convincing people what to have for dinner or to invest in new equipment, whether for a rocket launch or the purchase of a new car. If you learn the aspects of being successful, success will happen.”
Anderson succeeds Mark Mantey, who expanded the reach of the program during his five years of leadership.
As the incoming director of the center that has equipped Cal State Fullerton students of all majors with sales expertise for the past decade, Anderson hopes to expand the center’s reach through outreach connected to its initiatives, including the new sales minor, which debuted this semester, providing a 12-unit complement to any non-marketing major program, as well as the expanding professional connections that the center offers.
“I would like to interest more students in the benefits of a sales experience,” he says. “I believe that many would benefit from our sponsor partner internships and career opportunities, but students are not aware of what the center can offer them.”
A Career in Sales Leadership: A Look at Brad Anderson
Like many sales professionals, a sales career was not the original objective for Anderson. The University of Redlands management alumnus and Cal State San Bernardino MBA graduate sought to manage people and projects.
“But I discovered that I had a proficiency for sales and relationships,” he says. “I enjoyed interactions with people. My first offer came from Carnation Company to sell quality products to local grocers. I developed relationships with store managers and solved problems for them while earning a good living. I also had a flexible schedule and work/life balance.”
Anderson went on to spend the majority of his 30-year career working for Nestlé Purina Pet Care Company, a subsidiary of the world’s largest food company best known for chocolate confections.
The Sales Leadership Center Impact
For companies in Orange County and further afield, alumni of the Sales Leadership Center have provided a source of versatile and well-prepared talent. Henry Schein, Kellogg’s, Nations Direct Mortgage, PepsiCo, So Cal Office Technologies, Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits and Stanley Black & Decker, are among the companies employing graduates of the program.
Center graduates often return to assist the next generation of students, with alumni serving as speakers and recruiters at Sales Leadership Center events.
The center’s sponsors include such companies as Kellogg’s, King’s Hawaiian, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide Insurance, PepsiCo/Frito, Stanley Black & Decker and Verizon, and various smaller firms.
Ways to Get Involved
The applied experience of sales competitions gives students the opportunity to present sales pitches to actual professionals, which is invaluable preparation for interviewing or selling.
A number of students have also utilized the competitions to prepare for similar events across California or nationwide, earning scholarships and notability for the center and their personal futures in the process.
In October, three Mihaylo College business students involved in the Sales Leadership Center – Rachel Griffin ’20, Skylar Martinez ’19 and Taylor Medina ’19 – competed at the Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.
The major event for this fall is the Titan Sales Competition on Nov. 30, which will feature more than 30 contestants and 30 sponsoring companies providing judges.
“This competition allows our students to gain real-world experience with selling scenarios from two of our sponsoring companies, Henry Schein and So Cal Office Technologies,” says Anderson. “The sponsoring companies see our students shine as they present the scenarios in realistic settings with presentations to buyers. The students compete for scholarships and bragging rights, along with trophies, which are great résumé builders.”
The center also sponsors recruiting events, sales workshops and corporate tours providing behind-the-scenes exclusive insight into corporate cultures and workplaces. Register for the free events through the center’s Eventbrite page.
Last academic year, the center’s sponsors provided 29 scholarships, valued at more than $29,000, to qualified students. The center is on track for a similar level of scholarships for this year.
The Student Leadership Team of the Sales Leadership Center gives students applied leadership experience in addition to sales skills. Opportunities include presidential, vice presidential, recruitment, external affairs, retention, operations, marketing and visual arts roles.
For more information, visit the Sales Leadership Center online or at SGMH 3357.