Author: David Dodson

Published

State Farm has committed $96,000 to establish a sales lab at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.

The donation will benefit Terry's Marketing Department, which will use the gift to renovate and outfit space in Sanford Hall to house the State Farm Sales Lab. The lab will consist of six small break-out rooms, a small conference room and a video control room. All of the rooms will have video-recording capability.

"A high percentage of business graduates, including about 70 percent of marketing majors, start their careers in sales," said Robert T. Sumichrast, dean of the Terry College of Business. "The addition of this dedicated lab space will strengthen the Marketing Department's program in professional selling, and it will help the Terry College better prepare graduates for job opportunities right out of college.

"The State Farm Sales Lab will also be multifunctional," he said. "When the rooms are not in use as a sales lab, it will be highly functional as break-out space for other classes and student teams to meet in small groups. We are pleased to have State Farm partner with us on this important enhancement to the educational environment at Terry."

"State Farm is proud to present this gift to the Terry College and honored to be a partner in the UGA community," said Jim Kinkade, a State Farm vice president of agency. "This is a win-win for everyone as we help prepare these young adults for life and careers."

The Marketing Department, as part of its strategic planning, has made sales management a key focus, including the faculty's recent approval of professional selling as an area of academic emphasis.

"More than 300 students each academic year take the two sales courses, and all of them are required to make presentations," said Margaret Emmelhainz, the faculty coordinator for the undergraduate program in marketing. "The sales lab will allow us to increase the number of presentations students make and will provide a much better way of providing feedback to students."

Gary Garrett, a State Farm agent in Athens who worked with the Terry College on the gift proposal, said the sales lab was made possible by contributions from the State Farm Insurance Company Foundation and 18 fellow agents who used the company's matching gift program.

"When I called upon my fellow agents to assist with this initiative, they did not hesitate to help," Garrett said. "And there will be a select group of agents who continue to work closely with the students, helping them with their presentations and staying involved with the Marketing Department's executive advisory board and summer sales internship program. This continued involvement on behalf of State Farm will help the students prepare for the annual National Collegiate Sales Competition and, ultimately, for their careers after graduation."

The sales lab will provide additional support for the department's recent run of success in the National Collegiate Sales Competition, said Kevin Ellis, the faculty advisor to UGA's chapter of the Pi Sigma Epsilon national sales and marketing fraternity and the Terry Sales Competition. He noted that the Terry College has had individual students and the college's team finish in the top three of the national competition the past two years.

"The inability to record, review and critique the sales presentations and role-playing sessions of our students as they practice for these sales competitions has been an obstacle we've had to overcome," Ellis said. "The sales lab will be immensely beneficial when we host the Terry Sales Competition in the fall and when our top students are practicing for the national competition in the spring."

Anticipating more student success in competition, the renovation of the small conference room includes plans for a trophy case to display sales competition awards.