Gabriella DiPietro | Staff Writer
Technology is constantly improving and advancing, which has made the industry of sales significantly more challenging. However, Duquesne University’s Palumbo-Donahue School of Business has proudly made the decision to embrace this technology-driven industry and introduce its new Center for Leadership in Professional Selling.
This newly renovated space can be found on the fourth floor of Rockwell Hall, along with two other centers for entrepreneurship and supply chain management, which helps to enhance the business experience provided to both sales students and others in the business school.
Dorene Ciletti, assistant professor of marketing, finds the center to be a much-needed addition, noting the importance of successful selling skills.
“Sales is a critical component of nearly every organization because it drives revenue and facilitates operations, so it’s critically important for organizations engaging in personal selling to employ educated, capable sales professionals,” Ciletti said.
Ciletti also noted how the Center and its goals tie in with the mission of the business school.
“The center addresses this need, providing facilities and programming to better prepare students for professional sales positions. It supports the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business focus on providing a unique, transformational educational experience,” she said.
Ciletti also shared that the fourth-floor placement of these three different centers was intentional.
“The Center for Leadership in Professional Selling, along with centers for entrepreneurship and supply chain co-located on the fourth floor, feature flexible spaces that can be configured to support teamwork, collaboration, training and product development to enhance student learning and facilitate corporate and community engagement,” Ciletti said.
The concept for the center resulted from the school’s strategic planning process in 2013-2014. With support from a variety of donors, the center has been made into a reality that Dr. Dean McFarlin, dean and professor of management at the School of Business, is very pleased with.
“It’s a potential game-changer,” McFarlin said. “The center has a state-of-the-art digital audio and visual capture system that we can use for sales-related education. All of the center’s spaces have digital cameras tied to a hardware/software system that will be essential for providing feedback about presentations, sales role plays and more.”
On Oct. 21, the center was put to the test when the school hosted the inaugural Steel City Sales Challenge, an annual sales competition sponsored by Steel Dynamics, Inc. which is open to universities in the region.
McFarlin hopes that the Center for Leadership in Professional Selling and the school’s sales program will continue to expand and grow. He has aspirations to engage some corporate sponsors to help fund the Center’s activities going forward.
“We hope to convince students—and not just business students—that ‘selling’ isn’t a dirty word. It’s really a core process for all organizations, and in a business-to-business environment, selling often means developing deep and long-lasting strategic relationships with your business partners,” McFarlin said. “Over time, we hope to collaborate with other academic units on campus to leverage the center, its technology and our expertise in professional selling for their students.”
McFarlin believes it is vital to learn and develop good influence skills, whether that involves direct selling activity or not, and the Center for Leadership in Professional Selling aims to foster those skills and provide opportunities needed for students’ success.
“This center isn’t just an asset for the business school — it’s an asset for Duquesne,” McFarlin said.