Former businessman stresses importance of sales skills

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Mark Mantey explains the benefits and opportunities the Sales Leadership Center offers to all majors. JESSICA PINEDA / Daily Titan
Mark Mantey explains the benefits and opportunities the Sales Leadership Center offers to all majors.

Mark Mantey, co-director of the Cal State Fullerton Sales Leadership Center, took time on Monday to sell majors in business and marketing on the idea that sales skills are crucial, regardless of one’s career.

Mantey moved to California from Wisconsin in the 1980s with a small amount of experience in sales, and worked until he became the divisional vice president of sales for international food company Nestlé.

Chris Punzalan, a 27-year-old marketing major, said that the events hosted by the Sales Leadership Center represent a great opportunity to get hands-on experience.

He added that significant participation in the projects could potentially contribute to a portfolio that marketing students must complete for their capstone class.

“When we have our projects in classes, it’s make believe,” Punzalan said. “The project here, it’s a real company with real info and, you know, you come up with a real idea.”

He said that he had about eight years of experience with a hospice company and moving up from data entry to medical billing, software implementation and financial analysis.

However, he said his experience would likely not mean much for pursuing his desired job in marketing.

“When you’re applying for any specific job where it’s not just a general office job, you have to have the specific talents,” he said.

Mantey emphasized the importance of students taking advantage of resources available to them on campus. His Sales Leadership Center is open to all students, regardless of major.

In addition to general advice and assistance, the center offers workshops and courses that will, when coupled with specific courses at CSUF, grant students certification in professional sales.

“You can be able to go to your employer and say, ‘Yay, I got all A’s and B’s in my curriculum in Cal State Fullerton in business, but I took it a step further and I have a real interest in selling, so I got involved with this thing called the Sales Leadership Center, who taught me how to sell and exposed me to a whole

lot of things that I wouldn’t have had gotten through my regular classes,’” Mantey said.

Part of the reason that the center helps all students, he said, is because of the universal nature of skills that are required to succeed in sales. “If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, nothing like a little sales skills to lock down that date, huh?” Mantey asked.

Additionally, he said that over 50 percent of undergraduate business majors end up starting their professional careers in sales after graduation, regardless of their original intent.

Mitchell Loo, 19, an accounting major, said he understood the need to stand out in the job market. “I’m planning on joining the accounting society, so hopefully they’ll give me some advice about how I can separate myself,” he said.

Loo said that he would accept a sales job if he could not find accounting positions initially, and recognizes the overlap in skills between sales and other fields. “Sales is a lot of communicating with the people,” he said.

Mantey was optimistic about job prospects for graduates seeking sales positions.

“The labor force in a lot of companies today looks a lot like me: Anglo male, nearing retirement, and I’ve heard that up to 40, 50 percent of sales forces look like me,” he said. “And as those individuals retire in the next few years, that’s going to open up a lot of opportunities at all levels for upcoming graduates.”

The event, hosted by sales and marketing fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon, also served as a meeting to announce future club activity and events, which will culminate with the inaugural Titan Sales Competition.

During the competition, teams that represent themselves or bear the name of a student business organization or fraternity on campus will strive to make the best possible sales pitches.

They will receive training and advice from either Nationwide Financial or United Parcel Service, then act as sales representatives for one of those firms. Judges will assess each team’s performance to determine the winner.

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