A new center at the University of Northern Iowa will teach students valuable skills to boost their chances of finding a job while providing local businesses and community members with sales expertise.

The UNI Center for Professional Sales Excellence will feature a dedicated space for sales development activities, student internship opportunities, and recruiting events that will allow students to build skills, earn badges and certificates that showcase their professional sales capabilities, and build relationships with potential employers. The center’s first workshops will be held this summer.

“Employers are always happier to hire students who are ready to hit the ground running,” said Dale Cyphert, head of the marketing and entrepreneurship department, which is launching this initiative. “An important piece of the College of Business’s mission involves identifying areas where we already do a really great job of preparing students and making sure that they are able to prove their value to prospective employers.”

The sales center, which will be open to all majors, was born from that idea of helping students succeed. 

“The purpose of the sales center is to help prepare students for a role in a company that may be sales related, but the skills we teach can also help a student win an interview or negotiate a raise or get your idea heard at a board meeting, said Marty Hansen, sales center director. “This is an opportunity for us to give students real world skills that they can apply broadly in the development of their career.”

The center, located in the Business and Community Services building on UNI’s campus, will also promote professional standards of ethical sales conduct, promote proven best practices and develop graduates with a firm grasp on current industry practices who can hit the ground running, contributing immediately to the companies lucky enough to hire them.  

“Every company has its own product information and internal processes,” Hansen said. “But when new salespeople already understand the importance of building relationships and the critical tactics of superior communication, their training time can be dramatically reduced.”

The center will partner with Advance Iowa, one of the business support programs of UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation, to offer the business college’s sales and sales management expertise to businesses and business communities across Iowa’s 99 counties.  Tapping university faculty expertise as well as the Advance Iowa’s unique expertise in pairing owners with trusted business advisors, the center will provide resources for businesses who need to enhance the professionalism and effectiveness of their own sales and sales management efforts. 

The center will also partner with the business community, serving as a sales professionalism resource for businesses throughout the state and offering access to well-qualified, entry-level sales staff as well as resources to foster the professional development of a company’s existing sales and sales management teams.  

“Many Iowa businesses struggle with their sales processes and personnel needs,” said Paul Kinghorn, director of the Center for Business Growth and Innovation. “The partnership between these two centers means not only that these companies now have better access to qualified entry-level salespeople, but also to training and support services for their existing sales specialists and managers and access to the resources needed to develop and manage professional sales organizations.”

For more information regarding July and August workshops, visit the UNI Center for Professional Sales Excellence website or contact the director, Marty Hansen, at 319-273-2630.