Sales And Business Development Club Emphasizes Real-world Experience

Among the list of careers that Boston College students pursue after graduation, sales and business fall at number two. Sales, however, is emphasized so little, and even given a negative connotation in the BC community.

Chris Alto, president of the Sales and Business Development Club, and John Ippolito, vice president—both A&S ’15—recognized this discrepancy and have set out to debunk what they call the “used car salesman” stereotype.

By providing hands-on opportunities and educating students on the importance of sales in everyday life, the Sales and Business Development Club hopes to make a lasting impact on the landscape of BC’s community.

Alto and Ippolito agree that the club’s first goal is to shatter the negative implications that university students harbor when it comes to sales.
“Sales needs to stop being associated with used car salesmen—we want BC students to see that those involved in sales are the revenue drivers, the people that bring in business,” Ippolito said. “In any field, sales is the glue that keeps everything together. It is an integral part of any career choice. The moment you walk into a job interview, you are selling yourself.”

The second goal of the club is to provide real-life opportunities for students to perfect their business techniques. After speaking with John Falvey, a professor in the marketing department—the only professor to teach a sales course—Alto and Ippolito realized that sales is not something that students can learn in a classroom.

They have catered club events and activities to support this notion. Experience that simulates that of the real world is the only way to help students succeed in the realm of sales.

The Sales and Business Development Club has already partnered with GE Healthcare and IBM to assist in educating students on the importance of sales in the general economy. The club hopes to host events in which distinguished speakers from these companies as well as BC alumni converse with students about current issues in sales.

Throughout November and December, the Sales and Business Development Club will be hosting various panels in which students are encouraged to ask questions and interact with speakers.

“One of the most important aspects of sales is learning how to ask the right questions,” Ippolito said. “We really want our members to dictate how these conversations will go. The panel-structured events are meant to be really interactive.”

In addition, the club has recently been invited to participate in a worldwide sales competition hosted by MIT Sloan. For the first time in the history of BC, the Sales and Development Club has been invited to work with Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan to bring panelists into the competition.

The first MIT Sloan’s Worldwide Sales Competition conference for the competition that BC students are invited to is Nov. 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The two panels that will be featured are: “Sales, Marketing, and Business Development: How are they different and how do they work together?” and “Sales and Biz Dev in Start-Ups.”

After having a successful kick-off meeting on Oct. 29 and an abundance of interest on the listserv, the club is now trying to weed out disinterested members and form a strong leadership team and core of general members. Because it is a newly founded club, Alto and Ippolito are eager to fill leadership roles right away.

“With sales, you get what you put into it,” Ippolito said. “Your salary depends on how hard you work, and likewise our most active members will benefit the most from their participation in the club’s various events.”

The Sales and Business Development Club has a mission to bring respect to and bolster interest in the sales and business fields at BC. Even for those not interested in careers in sales, the club encourages involvement for all undergraduates.

“Sales is a really professional career where you can make money, but even for those who don’t want to be in sales, it is a fundamental skill that anyone can use,” Alto said. “Whether you’re pitching somebody an idea within an organization or trying to get a good candidate on your team, sales is the underlying factor.”

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