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MTSU cuts ribbon on professional sales lab to trai...

MTSU cuts ribbon on professional sales lab to train business majors [+VIDEO]

Students in MTSU’s Jones College of Business now have access to an innovative sales laboratory that will allow them to hone their selling skills in their efforts to become ready-to-hire graduates.

The university cut the ribbon Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the Mel Adams State Farm Agent Sales Lab on the first floor of its Business and Aerospace Building. It is named in honor of the alumnus (’61) and retired longtime State Farm agent who continues to support the university and its new Professional Selling concentration.

From left, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; State Farm agent Tom Clark; developer Bob Parks; and State Farm agent Bill Cunningham listen as Laura Buckner, instructor in the Department of Marketing, explains the resources available in the Mel Adams State Farm Sales Lab following a ribbon-cutting for the lab Tuesday, Aug. 7, inside the Business and Aerospace Building. Supported by a $50,000 endowment by State Farm agents, the lab allows students in the Professional Selling concentration to conduct and record mock interviews and review them with faculty to identify areas of improvement. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, listens with State Farm agent Tom Clark, developer Bob Parks and State Farm agent Bill Cunningham as Laura Buckner, instructor in the Department of Marketing, explains the resources available in the Mel Adams State Farm Sales Lab at a ribbon-cutting for the lab Tuesday, Aug. 7, inside the Business and Aerospace Building. Supported by a $50,000 endowment by State Farm agents, the lab allows students in the Professional Selling concentration to conduct and record mock interviews and review them with faculty to identify areas of improvement. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“It feels really good,” said a humbled Adams, recalling the days when he started in the business equipped with just a pen and a piece of paper. The Rutherford County native, who was affiliated with State Farm for 56 years after starting his career as a filing clerk, encourages students to “enjoy what you’re doing … and put people at ease” when making a sale.

Jones College of Business logoThe multifunctional lab will train students to do so, providing real-world sales scenarios to help them practice. The two-room space is equipped with high definition cameras, computers, software and workplace furnishings that are similar to a professional office setting. Students and faculty can record mock interviews and sales calls and will be able to review and analyze their performance to improve interview skills.

“Jones College specializes in hands-on, experiential learning in its business programs,” said Dean David Urban. “We use the sales lab as a key part of our new concentration in Professional Selling. In the lab, students make real sales presentations, and can review the video recording of the presentations to learn the most successful sales practices.”

Before the ribbon-cutting, MTSU hosted a luncheon for Adams and other State Farm agents who funded a $50,000 endowment to support the lab. A majority of those agents are MTSU alumni, and some will serve as mentors to Jones College students.

Andy Womack, MTSU alumnus and State Farm agent, takes a picture Tuesday, Aug. 7, of his daughter, Dana Womack, left, and Mel Adams outside of the Mel Adams State Farm Sales Lab inside Business and Aerospace Building following a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the lab. Supported by a $50,000 endowment by State Farm agents, the lab allows students in the Professional Selling concentration to conduct and record mock interviews and review them with faculty to identify areas of improvement. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Andy Womack, MTSU alumnus and State Farm agent, takes a picture Tuesday, Aug. 7, of his daughter, Dana Womack, left, and Mel Adams outside of the Mel Adams State Farm Sales Lab inside Business and Aerospace Building following a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the lab. Supported by a $50,000 endowment by State Farm agents, the lab allows students in the Professional Selling concentration to conduct and record mock interviews and review them with faculty to identify areas of improvement. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“Mel not only was my mentor but mentored other new agents as well,” said Adams’ friend Andy Womack, a fellow MTSU alumnus and longtime local State Farm agent. “He set a standard for sales, business management, and professionalism that was a model for agents at all career levels.”

The celebratory event included lab demonstrations by Laura Buckner, an instructor in the Department of Marketing, who pointed out that “someone can tell you what sales is all about, but until you actually practice it, it’s just not the same … that’s why this lab is so valuable.”

Added Urban: “We find that employers are not just interested in what our graduates know; they are even more interested in what our graduates can do. The learning by doing that our students receive in the sales lab gives them a real competitive advantage over students from other universities who do not receive that type of training.”

For more information about MTSU’s Professional Selling concentration in the Department of Marketing, go to www.mtsu.edu/marketing or call 615-898-2902.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Retired State Farm Insurance agent Mel Adams, center, prepares to cut the ribbon Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the professional selling instructional lab inside the Business and Aerospace Building named in his honor. Pictured are, from left, David Urban, dean, Jones College of Business; Laura Buckner, instructor, Department of Marketing; Andy Womack, State Farm Insurance agent, Murfreesboro; Adams; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Jeannie Gregory, State Farm agent, Gallatin; and Deb Thompson, vice president of State Farm, Murfreesboro. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Retired State Farm Insurance agent Mel Adams, center, prepares to cut the ribbon Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the professional selling instructional lab named in his honor inside the Business and Aerospace Building. Pictured are, from left, David Urban, dean, Jones College of Business; Laura Buckner, instructor, Department of Marketing; Andy Womack, State Farm Insurance agent, Murfreesboro; Adams; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Jeannie Gregory, State Farm agent, Gallatin; and Deb Thompson, vice president of State Farm, Murfreesboro. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)


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