PLYMOUTH–In mid- May, more than 150 Plymouth State University seniors will be awarded business related degrees at the institution’s Commencement ceremony. Some already have job offers, though others will be looking to land a good job with their newly-minted degrees.
On March 10 they received some valuable job hunting advice from one of New Hampshire’s most successful business and educational leaders, former Governor John Lynch. PSU’s College of Business Administration (COBA) invited Lynch to visit and speak with business students about taking the first step in achieving their goals. Lynch met with various business clubs who presented their work to him, providing feedback and advice on their work.
“I am so impressed by the program and the students; it’s not only the clubs they’re involved with, or the products they’re trying to market — it’s their enthusiasm for what they do, and for me that’s what is so impressive about these students,” said Lynch.
Nick Melewski, a Business Administration major, wants to remain in New Hampshire.
“As a student who’s about to get a job, I need to know more about the job market in New Hampshire,” Melewski said. “He certainly has the business knowledge and he’s given us advice on what our next steps should be.”
Lynch emphasized that there are opportunities in New Hampshire and graduates with expertise in business skills can be successful. He was happy that so many PSU students want to stay in the Granite State.
“It’s very heartening — there are a number of high tech companies that are growing rapidly, that are really looking for sales people,” said Lynch. “There are a lot of jobs out there for salespeople, so to see the passion here among the students, should pretty much ensure they can get a good job.”
Accounting major Autumn Wharton was happy to meet the former Governor and hear his advice.
“He has experience with what’s out there for students like us. He knows where the opportunities are in New Hampshire,” said Wharton.
COBA Professor Bonnie Bechard said Lynch’s experience and expertise were very helpful.
“What I think the students can learn from the governor is that there is a lot of opportunity in New Hampshire,” Bechard said. “One of the messages he sent to students was this is a very special place, and there are great opportunities, particularly with small businesses.”
Lynch, a four-term governor, is generally acknowledged as among the most popular governors in the state’s history. During his tenure, New Hampshire was named the safest state three years in a row, the best state to raise a child, and the most livable state in the country.
As a business and educational leader, Lynch has thrived in a variety of settings, from serving as director of admissions at the Harvard Business School, to establishing a consulting firm, to transforming a struggling manufacturing business, Knoll, Inc., into a highly profitable operation. Lynch is currently a member of the USNH Board of Trustees, he previously served as chair of the BOT before becoming governor.
By DAN SEUFERT
Union Leader Correspondent
PLYMOUTH — Where salespeople got their college degrees is not likely to come up when someone is trying to clinch a deal with a customer, but employers are beginning to notice, says a professor at Plymouth State University, which is among a growing number of colleges that have added sales degrees to their offerings.
“For years, businesspeople had their own training schools for their salespeople. That’s how it was for a long time,” said professor Robert Nadeau of PSU’s College of Business Administration.
Now, salespeople with college instruction are far better prepared to deal with modern customers, who are far-better informed buyers than in days past.
“Fifty-seven percent of customers are armed to the teeth with information about the products when they arrive,” Nadeau said.
PSU’s Professional Sales Leadership Program, which offers five courses and was started at the university in 2009, has been named one of the best locations for hiring sales professionals by the Sales Education Foundation, which just released its annual list of Top University Sales Programs.
Plymouth State, which offers the degree as a minor or as a certificate, also recently placed in the top 20 schools in the nation at the National Collegiate Sales Competition in Atlanta, the world’s largest sales competition.
Nadeau said his students go through an eight-step consultation sales process, which teaches them skills like advanced networking, how to qualify a prospect, how to build trust with a customer, how to ask a customer or client the right type of questions, how to make an engaging presentation, how to handle objections, how to gain commitment, and how to follow up.
His graduates average a 50 percent faster “ramp-up” time in training and 30 percent less turnover once hired, he said. And sales jobs, even during the worst economic times of recent years, have been plentiful, Nadeau said.
PSU sales program graduates are averaging 2.8 job offers before graduation, and most are starting in jobs making $50,000 or more. After one or two years on the job, many are making $100,000 or more, he said.
It helps that the college has a Sales Advisory Board with companies like Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Grappone Automotive on it, he said.
Jamison Clouthier, a PSU sales graduate who works for Hewlett-Packard’s Americas CloudStrike sales and strategy team, said, “The PSU sales program helped me get my career off the ground by helping me build a solid foundation to what professional sales truly is.
“The program enabled me to practice what had been taught in not just role-plays and classrooms, but at the (Atlanta competition),” Clouthier said.