Students in Southeastern Louisiana University’s new Professional Sales Program will soon benefit from a state-of-the-art training room thanks to a $100,000 donation from Northwestern Mutual.

Pending University of Louisiana System Board approval, the new Northwestern Mutual Sales Training Room will be located in Garrett Hall on Southeastern’s campus, with renovations to existing space beginning in early 2019.

Steven Dugal, managing partner of the Mississippi and Louisiana offices, as well as Paul Hodge, managing director of the Mandeville and Gulfport offices, are supporting the initiative.

“We are excited to get involved in Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program. From our experience at other universities, sales students ramp up faster than non-sales students, have lower turnover, and are more prepared for the workforce” said Dugal, noting that Northwestern Mutual has been instrumental in donating to other similar, successful programs at universities.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program was created to draw high-ability students toward selling as a career, better prepare those students for early success in professional selling careers, and connect them with sales professionals in the region. According to research conducted by the Sales Education Foundation, more than 50 percent of business school graduates enter the workforce in a sales-oriented position.

Dean of the College of Business Toni Phillips said the core sales curriculum consists of courses in personal selling, advanced professional selling and sales management and is supported with other marketing courses in consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy. With the current goal to prepare students for success in the sales profession, the program has been developed for marketing majors with a future goal of including those majoring in areas outside of business who wish to pursue a sales certificate.

“We know that professional sales is not only a starting point for careers, but is becoming more and more important across all sectors of the economy,” said Phillips. “The Southeastern Professional Sales Program will help train the next generation of sales leaders and the investment that Northwestern Mutual is making demonstrates that the program is on the right track. We are really appreciative of Northwestern Mutual.”

An important objective of the program, Phillips added, is to connect sales program students with sales professionals and organizations through role-play competitions, internships, guest speakers, panel discussions and career opportunities.

For more information about Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program or how businesses can get involved, contact Instructor of Marketing April Kemp at April.Kemp@southeastern.edu, 985.549.2277, or visit southeastern.edu/sales.

Above image: Seated, from left, are Northwestern Mutual Managing Director/Financial Advisor Paul Hodge and Northwestern Mutual Managing Partner of Louisiana and Mississippi Steven Dugal. Standing, from left, are Southeastern Associate Professor of Marketing Tara’ Lopez; Brian Jones, Northwestern Mutual college unit director/financial advisor; Kolby Hodge; Lisa Dugal; Katy Simpson, chief marketing officer; Michael Bazile, chief operating officer; April Kemp, instructor of marketing; and Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale.

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