UH student places
third in national sales contest
By Crys Lewis
Daily Cougar Staff
"A lot of people come to the University
not wanting to be salespeople," said Kristi Von Woglom-Parodi, director
of UH's Program for Excellence in Selling. But sales
can be applied to almost any profession,
whether it is selling a product or a concept, she adds.
Located within the C. T. Bauer College
of Business, the program is the largest undergraduate sales program in
the United States, Von Woglom-Parodi said. It
accepts students of all majors.
"Sales is a professional profession," Woglom-Parodi
said. "Alumni say they learn to sell themselves above and beyond a product."
One student who did just that is Tatiana
Chavanelle, a senior accounting student minoring in Russian studies. During
the spring semester, Chavanelle won third
place in a national sales competition
sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. She previously won
first place in the regional competition, sponsored by
the Paul Nick Agency of Northwestern Mutual
Life. Susana Howard, a senior PES-marketing student took second place.
"Dr. Eli Jones is awesome," Chavanelle
said of her professor in the "Professional Selling" class, one of the program's
five required courses. "If I hadn't taken the class
with him, I probably wouldn't have done
any selling," she said.
"For me, it was an opportunity to improve
my communication skills," she added. Chavanelle is from the Ukraine, and
moved to the United States seven years ago.
Since English is her second language,
she took the course business majors can take in place of a public speaking
class to help her with language skills.
For the sales competition, she sold services.
"It was actually a requirement," she said, since the sponsor, Northwestern
Mutual, sells financial services. Her project
was on the FedEx Home Delivery Service.
"I actually spoke to a FedEx representative
(and) used (his) helpful suggestions and pointers he gave (me) about competition,"
Chavanelle, who graduates in December,
has already been hired by Mann, Frankfort, Stein & Lipp, the largest
regional CPA firm in Houston. After graduation, she
plans to start work in the firm's taxation
department in January.
"In the past, people from our program have
won awards in this competition. It was a great thing to do (to) see where
our skills are at that point. The program is really
young, but for what it's accomplished
in its three years is really incredible," Chavanelle said.
PES is a certificate program with five
required classes. The classes have been structured to "give students some
real-world application, " Woglom-Parodi said. As
one of their first assignments, students
are given a jacket, custom-made for the sales program.
"Students go out and find a sponsor for
their jacket, someone to make an investment in that student's future,"
she said. "It's usually their first cold call. It's a good task
for a student to do a cold call to close
To earn advanced certification, students
must take the course "Key Account Selling," which gives them experience
in real-world applications. Students are required
to call on a top CEO of a company in Houston.
"It's scary. You think, 'Oh my God! I have
to call on a CEO,'" Woglom-Parodi said, adding that afterward students
often find their self-confidence is higher, and they
have a better understanding of the sales
and buying process.
"Twenty-four (major) companies in Houston
were active sponsors of the graduation and induction ceremony," she said.
For more information, visit the Web site
at marketing.cba.uh.edu/sales, or call (713) 743-4746. Applications are
being accepted for the fall semester until July 25.