This story appears in the spring 2016 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University.
Though Californians are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, West Coast universities have lagged behind their East Coast and Midwest counterparts in offering degree programs in professional sales.
San Diego State University is an exception, thanks to its developing partnership with global giant 3M. In 2011, the company went looking for a West Coast university to add to the roster of its Frontline Sales Initiative program.
“We analyzed several business schools for energy, enthusiasm and compatibility,” said Candace Mailand, Frontline program manager in 3M’s marketing, sales and communication division. “SDSU met all the criteria, and it has been a phenomenal partner.”
As one of 14 universities in the 3M Frontline program, SDSU received support to develop a sales program within the Department of Marketing and hire a new faculty member, Gabriel Gonzalez, to oversee it. This sales specialization track has grown to include more than 75 students since fall 2013, said department chair George Belch.
3M also supports a specialized course, Sales for Social Impact, through which students create business plans for products that can have positive impacts in developing economies. Some of those students go on to become summer interns at 3M.
In December, SDSU officially opened the 3M Sales Lab in the College of Business Administration. The state-of-the-art lab features a presentation/meeting room connected by two-way mirror to an observation area, allowing students to improve their presentation skills with the aid of video technology and live feedback.
Not only do students benefit from 3M support while on campus, but some, like marketing majors Marlene Cortez and Michael Prince, have been offered sales positions after graduation in May 2016. Both were summer interns with 3M last year.
“Our students are learning the skills necessary to work in today’s sales force,” Gonzalez said. “They are business acumen, an analytical perspective, and above all, an entrepreneurial outlook.