UPS Brass Training Sales Competition Finalists


Every Wednesday of the winter 2016 quarter, a group of suit-wearing executives from UPS could be seen walking toward Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration at 3:55 p.m. with clock-like precision.

Although the crew size fluctuated, its members never arrived in brown trucks. Instead of packages, they were delivering knowledge to students representing the university at Pi Sigma Epsilon’s Sell-A-Thon Nationals.

“I was expecting every now and then [UPS] would have a person come into a meeting,” fourth-year marketing student and winner of the regional speakers’ competition Danielle Kellum says. “But to have them consistently bring out five to six people, getting a different person assigned to us each time with feedback on how to improve - it’s really crazy.”

UPS is a corporate sponsor of the PSE Pro-Am Sell-A-Thon, a year-long competition that trains and develops students in all aspects of the business-to-business sales process. It climaxes with the national showcase set to begin March 24 in Milwaukee, Wisc. where cash prizes and a Tom James suit await the victor.

During the competition, students take part in a simulated sales presentation where contestants are evaluated on his or her ability to move the customer through the sales process and obtain a commitment. Role-plays are judged by a panel of sales professionals.

“[UPS] helped me not just for the sales competition, but for the real world,” Kellum says. “I’m learning hands-on, doing the real thing and I get feedback from people that do this every day in their profession.”

The group of UPS mentors was headed by Larry Palmer and Mark Cipres, two of the company’s corporate sales trainers. They regularly brought along Cal Poly Pomona three alumni, including ’01 human resources graduate Michael St. Onge who began at UPS after seeing an opening posted in the career center in 1997. 

St. Onge started as a loader, moved up to a recruiter after graduation and has been with the sales department for the last 10 years. Now an area sales manager, he has not missed a meeting and had front-row seating to witness the students’ transformation.

“They’re less timid; less shy,” he says, “Now they’re in control of the process so they can work on little things like body mechanics, voice inflection and mannerisms. I feel like they’ve come a long way for sure.”

St. Onge says in addition to helping the community, UPS wanted to be involved because it gives them a chance to spot talent early. Two CPP students participating in the contest have already discussed potential long-term employment plans for after graduation.

“UPS is so much more than a trucking company,” UPS area sales manager Michael St. Onge says. “There are all kinds of professional positions we’re hiring for that people don’t associate us with. We want students coming out of college looking at us as their first career step.”

St. Onge encourages all Broncos to visit for career opportunities.