At first glance, Manhattan, Kansas, might not seem like an obvious place for an East Coast company to allocate recruiting resources. But a strong first impression at the 2014 National Collegiate Sales Competition convinced Boston-based Dell EMC to take a closer look at potential employees from the heartland.
“There was a Kansas State student at the competition who really caught our eye. We were incredibly impressed with her demeanor, maturity and ability to represent herself throughout the event,” said Katie Marvinney, campus manager, inside sales program at Dell EMC. “We kept in touch and ultimately were able to bring her on board as a full-time employee once she finished up her degree.”
What started with one hire in 2015 has quickly blossomed into a recruiting pipeline from Manhattan to Dell EMC, which provides organizations with industry-leading converged infrastructure, servers, storage and cybersecurity technologies. In the past 16 months, Dell EMC has hired four additional Kansas State University graduates from the National Strategic Selling Institute in the College of Business Administration.
“We have built a strong relationship both with the faculty and the students at K-State and have already enjoyed the success of National Strategic Selling Institute alumni within Dell EMC,” said Kelly Dostal, senior manager of inside sales at Dell EMC. “It is critical to our success as an organization to tap into the leaders in sales education across the country, and K-State boasts an incredible faculty that has built a program where students graduate with a skill-set that allows them to be effective and impactful sellers immediately upon joining our team.”
Even though the National Strategic Selling Institute was established just seven years ago, it has built a reputation for producing some of the most career-ready graduates in the country. For the past six years, the Sales Education Foundation has recognized it as one of the nation’s top sales programs.
According to Dawn Deeter, director of the National Strategic Sales Institute, the program features a curriculum focused on the application of selling skills through role-playing and real sales experience. That experiential learning environment puts students in the same scenarios they will encounter in any entry-level sales management position.
“At K-State we were taught to develop our own personal selling style, instead of relying on a script like a lot of sales people use,” said Dan Burger, December 2016 graduate, and the latest Wildcat to join Dell EMC. “That’s something that’s allowed me to have success here — having already developed a style of selling that fits my personality and allows me to make genuine connections.”
Anastasia Vandermark, another 2016 graduate, has gone on to a sales role with Dell EMC and credits the program for giving her a leg up on the competition.
“The NSSI helped prepare me for my current role by teaching me how to not sell the product, but sell its value to the person I’m talking with,” Vandermark said. “It’s not about what you are selling, but how it will positively affect the person or organization you are selling to.”
That personal touch is something that sets K-State sales students apart from some of their counterparts from other universities around the country.
“I’ve found that the students we’ve recruited from K-State are generally really good, down-to-earth friendly people,” Marvinney said. “Sometimes in sales there is danger of coming off as too polished, where you can feel like you aren’t talking to a real person, and I’ve never encountered that with students at K-State.”
A new partnership agreement between Dell EMC and the NSSI ensures that the pipeline of talent will continue to flow for years to come with an increased presence on campus at sales competitions and career fairs. Kansas State is now one of only a few schools outside the company’s region from which Dell EMC actively recruits.
“We are thrilled to partner with Kansas State University’s National Strategic Selling Institute, as it has emerged as one of the premier undergraduate sales programs across the country,” Dostal said. “K-State alumni that join our organization have the passion, professionalism and sales experience to quickly become the future sales talent and sales leadership within Dell EMC.”