Students Benefit from Real-World Experience with CRM

May 7, 2019

Getting hands-on with technology at Eller improves job prospects


Eller Entrepreneurship class in computer lab
Student Ana Garcia, left, presents to the class while lecturer David Dembitz, right, asks questions


In five years at the UA, Business Administration minor Ana Garcia had learned plenty of theory. But she’d never reached out and talked to people the way she will need to in the working world.

Adjunct professors David Dembitz and Sam Williams decided to fill this educational and professional development gap in a course called Sales for New Ventures in Eller College’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

Students learned prospecting, sales techniques for business-to-business sales, and the management of a sales team. To do this, they were able to use the Salesforce Lightning customer relationship management (CRM) tool. They made notes in the system on each interaction as they cold called prospects, sent out email campaigns, scheduled appointments, and conducted interviews.

An Assignment For Their Future 

What were the students selling? Themselves. “They’re given an assignment to interview university alumni working in business-to-business sales on why they picked sales as a career,” David explained. After talking to the alumni, the students direct them to a video resume and mention that they are looking for a summer internship or a full-time job.

Because the students are gaining hands-on experience with Salesforce, Sam said that to recruiters, “They rise to the top of the resume pile, and they tend to get the offer.” He added that the students also build confidence in actually making these cold calls. He quoted the adage, “You can’t teach a kid how to ride a bike in a classroom.”

Ana appreciated getting that real-world experience, and having access to CRM technology. “Using the program made it easy to keep track of all this information, such as who responded to my email campaign, who I interviewed and their responses, and where I was at in the sales funnel with that particular lead.”

Sophomore Abraham Cho also felt Salesforce was a tremendous help, especially because the professors guided them in setting up an efficient flow. Abraham said, “There are people who find Salesforce frustrating to use, but that’s because it’s configured the wrong way.” He said his experience in the class has already benefited him when talking to recruiters.

Both students appreciated Salesforce’s visual layout. Abraham noted it makes the technology particularly appealing to millennials.

Salesforce Coming to UA

David and Sam shared with the class that the UA has acquired Salesforce as the technology solution for its own constituent relationship management strategy, Trellis.

After using it herself, Ana believes Salesforce will be beneficial to the university. “Anybody who interacts with the constituent can input the information about that interaction so the next person speaking to them won’t hold similar or irrelevant conversations.” She also predicted, “It will aid in cross-departmental communication because all the information will be in the system and not passed down in notes or word-of-mouth.”

Abraham also believes that the university will find using a university-wide CRM useful. “It makes communications more personal, and gives you context for each constituent.”

Next Steps

David and Sam are continuing to share their knowledge of sales techniques and Salesforce technology with students in a Student Engagement & Career Development program, Fast Track: B2B Sales.

If your UA department is interested in adopting a university-wide CRM solution, contact us or learn how to get involved.