This Fall semester, students in Dr. Linda Orr’s Advanced Professional Selling undergraduate class raised thousands of dollars for local non-profit organizations while practicing their selling skills
The students were required to perform a “real-world” sale in which they found large corporate donors for five organizations - the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank, the Humane Society of Greater Akron, Hattie Larlham, the Akron Ronald McDonald House, and the local chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).
The winning team, made up of Dheeraj Corepall, Blake Doty, and Paul Simkovich, raised more than $2,500 for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
Gina Campbell, CFRE, Individual Giving Manager of the Foodbank was impressed with both the students and the project.
“The fund development team at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank had a great experience with the students and their project,” she said. “Blake, Dheeraj, and Paul were always punctual, dressed in business attire, energetic, knowledgeable, and represented The University of Akron and the Foodbank with the utmost professionalism.”
Campbell commented that the students utilized the communication and marketing tools that were made available to them and were goal focused with the objective of not only completing the assignment for classroom requirements, but also promoting the mission of the Foodbank.
Regarding the project, Campbell stated, “The educational-based reality project gave students the opportunity to face the daily challenges of reviewing prospects, attempting to secure appointments, selling their product, and securing a gift.”
She noted that the assignment was tough, as the students were challenged with the obstacles of individual and corporation solicitation versus fundraising events, and the fact that by year-end, most companies are at the end of their budget year and their philanthropy dollars have been exhausted.
For the students, the project provided a great learning experience and a feeling of satisfaction from helping others. They also commented that the assignment helped them overcome their initial cold call jitters, enhance their professionalism and learn how to craft a prospecting strategy.
One student, Alex Modon, commented that he actually found himself almost laughing during a sales presentation as he realized he was applying exactly what he had learned in class out in the real world.
The project will continue every semester, providing more CBA students with an opportunity to enhance their sales skills while working for real clients and helping those in need. Next semester‘s class will raise funds for the same five organizations, as well as Summa Foundation and the Akron Rotary Camp.