The 48-Hour Ramp Up
From “Go” to “Go For It” USF adds SkillFitness coursework to MBA program in two days.
Developed in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the University of South Florida (USF) Sport and Entertainment Management MBA program offers specialized classes and coursework emphasizing the business fundamentals of sports and entertainment. The two-year program also includes a paid cooperative residency that provides students with on-the-job opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge to the real-world challenges of sports marketing while working with local Tampa sports and entertainment companies.
USF professors designing the MBA program believe that developing sales skills and sales experience should be integral to business education. Sales skills help future executives perform better in a sales role and help them learn to manage the sales process. Sales skills such as making a good first impression, uniquely positioning oneself, and actively listening also can serve students throughout their careers when they are job interviewing, networking or leading teams.
USF MBA students take “Sales and Fundraising in the Sports Industry” as a required class during their second-year of the program. Course designers and instructors were looking for a way for students to practice the skills they learned in the classroom in order to ingrain and transfer the skills to students’ residencies and on-the-job experience after graduation. Professors considered in-class role-playing too limiting and one-to-one coaching wasn’t scalable across the 25-plus students taking the class. Instructors also were concerned students wouldn’t take in-class role-playing seriously.
In developing their program, USF MBA professors visited the Major League Soccer (MLS) National Sales Center in Minnesota. The National Sales Center recruits and trains college graduates for a career in sales for all 20 MLS teams. Impressed with the results MLS saw in using SkillFitness to transfer classroom knowledge into sales skills with its trainees, the USF faculty decided to incorporate SkillFitness into its MBA program.
Within 48-hours of finalizing the decision to use SkillFitness, the course instructor posted her first skill video module. The instructor recorded a short, informal introduction to each module offering tips and suggestions to address sales issues that she knew students would face as they progress in their residency or which may emerge in special situations such as selling during USF football tailgate parties. Students had four to five days to practice the skill, to share their attempts with their classmates, and then to submit a recording of themselves for coaching and evaluation.
The course instructor discovered that students took the video role-playing exercises more seriously than most classroom exercises – probably because the exercises were recorded and being shared with classmates.
Video recording skill practice also seemed to encourage off-line student engagement and cooperation. Often several USF MBA students intern at the same organization. Without prompting from the instructor, these students formed informal study groups to practice skill development over lunch and during breaks at work. In these study groups, two students role-play the skill, while a third records the results.
The instructor also noticed that video role-play seemed to help improve students’ social skills – which can be valuable outside of sales in any area of their professional and personal lives. Along with skill mastery, students are coached on communication delivery: pace, pitch, avoiding monotone delivery, and encouraging engagement.
The course instructor found it useful to quickly develop content to address issues and skill development challenges that unexpectedly emerged as students progressed through their residencies. She also valued the ability to provide coaching and feedback through her smartphone, which allowed her to quickly respond to students and to fit coaching and student evaluations into her busy schedule.
RESULTS AND FUTURE ACTIONS
USF professors are impressed with the ease of using SkillFitness and with students’ engagement with the learning process. They are considering expanding their use of SkillFitness to their undergraduate sales initiative program and to their college’s online course offerings.
Want to learn more about leveraging SkillFitness to teach Millennials? Read Teaching Millennials to Sell: 6 Tips from Major League Soccer in the SkillFitness blog.
For more information on how SkillFitness is used to teach sales skills to new college grads, check out our Major League Soccer case study.