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College of Business Establishes a Sales Advisory Board of Prominent Alumni and National Leaders

March 8, 2021

As part of its new Professional Sales Program, the Idaho State University College of Business has created a Sales Advisory Board comprised of six prominent executives with vast experience. 

The Board, which will serve as a support for the new professional sales program, includes individuals like Idaho State alumnus and former National Football League player, Merril Hoge as well as local commercial real estate broker, and former executive with General Electric and Oracle, Don Zebe. Zebe established the first scholarship endowment for the sales program and will serve as chairperson of the group. As part of the program, the College will launch its first Annual Sales Competition open to all majors on April 19.

 “The Board members will support the Professional Sales Program by providing their time, input and expertise in collaboration with outside sales professionals,” Zebe said. “This will ensure that students are getting the education and mentorship needed to succeed.”

 Other members of the Board include:

  • Eric Driscoll, an Aberdeen, Idaho native and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Ag & Turf Northeast. Driscoll recently led the company in the attainment of 10 John Deere dealerships including 25 locations and 480 employees throughout the northeastern United States. 
  • Kent Malinowski, CEO of SuccessWorks Inc. a sales training and coaching company with a unique sales methodology including systems for hiring people, managing the sales pipeline and the sales process.
  •  Virginia Lee Williams, Vice-President of Global Customer Success at Planview, Inc. an international leader in resource management tools.
  •  Jeff Wimer, Chief Development Officer and Career Financial Advisor for Northwestern Mutual in Boise, Idaho.

“The Sales Advisory Board members will be involved with curriculum development and help guide students through the internship and career process,” said Zebe.


The Board will meet twice a year with College of Business Dean, Dr. Shane Hunt to provide their input on curriculum and other topics within the program, helping to continue to build opportunities and skills in sales for any student in the University.


The Annual Sales Competition offers students in any major sales skills practice and a chance to win a portion of $2,250 in cash prizes. Teams of two members including a buyer and seller will compete to sell a product or service of their choice.


“One of the first concepts we teach in sales is that everyone sells,” said Assistant Dean and Director of Professional Development, John Ney who is helping to lead the competition. “Truly, it doesn’t matter what field you go into, we all need the ability to sell a product, a service, an idea or ourselves.” Ney explains that people may not realize it, but they are doing some manner of selling every day. “Take a medical doctor for example, we judge them by their skills but also their bedside manner. They have to convince us that they have the best remedy for our health needs or most people will leave and find another. The same is true in most fields.”


Participants of the competition will be judged on five objectives of the sales process including finding the ideal customer and building a relationship, understanding the customer’s needs and preparing a custom presentation, matching product or service benefits to the customer’s needs, answering customer concerns, and negotiation. Judges will also evaluate students’ communication and presentation skills.


As the director of professional development, Ney says companies demand students who demonstrate three main skills on top of what they have learned in their field of study: 1) strong oral and written communication skills; 2) engagement and taking leadership roles; 3) the ability to work well in teams.


“Participating in this competition helps in all three of those areas,” said Ney. “Sales is also about learning to listen and communicate well, building trust, negotiating, solving problems and being ethical. All really important traits for a successful life and career.”


Ney noted that in addition to these benefits and the cash prizes, winning students can look forward to a trophy.


Idaho State students who are interested in adding sales to their background can also pursue the College’s new Professional Selling Certificate program available this fall. Students interested in this program should contact a College of Business advisor at cobadvis@isu.edu.   


To learn more about the members of the Sales Advisory Board or the Sales Competition, visit isu.edu/cob/current-students/undergraduate/programs/sales/.



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