Ramon Avila, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Marketing, is an enthusiastic and energetic professor committed to the success of Ball State students. As a faculty member with industry experience in sales, Avila recognized early in his academic career that the majority of Ball State marketing majors begin their careers in sales. He also understands that sales force turnover in some industries has reached 50 percent, and that sales force turnover at entry level positions is often linked to the new hire not knowing enough about sales or what a sales jobs entails. Avila was dedicated to solving these problems.
Building on the work of Rod Davis and Jim Lowry, Ramon established the Professional Selling Institute (PSI) in 1996. Joe Chapman (also with industry experience in sales) became an integral part of the PSI, teaching sales management and personal selling courses. Although still relatively new, the PSI was already leading the way in sales education through its use of video recording labs (for sales call role plays), a unique curriculum, experienced faculty, and sales-oriented career fair.
The goal of the PSI was to prepare marketing majors for successful careers in professional selling. As time went by, it became increasingly apparent to students, faculty, and recruiters that a sales curriculum was important for more than just marketing majors. Students with a variety of majors began taking the sales courses, and recruiters began noticing the difference.
In 2002, Ball State hired Scott Inks to help with the expanding sales program. In addition to teaching personal selling, Inks developed and taught a new sales technology course, allowing the sales faculty team to integrate the curriculum and provide students and recruiters additional services.
Also in 2002, the PSI established a Sales Advisory Board and became a founding member of the University Sales Center Alliance. The PSI was growing rapidly and it became apparent that additional support was needed. Later that year, the sales team accompanied by then dean of the Miller College of Business Lynne Richardson, approached the President of H.H. Gregg, Jerry Throgmartin, with a proposal that would change the program.
In 2003, H.H. Gregg management agreed to donate one million dollars to the PSI to help the program develop and grow. A few months later, the Ball State University Center for Professional Selling was born. The funding allowed the sales team to move into new offices and remodel its video recording labs with new furnishings and state-of-the-art integrated video and computer technology. Today, the Center for Professional Selling continues to serve students, businesses, the university, and the community by producing outstanding graduates and quality research. As it grows, the center will continue to be recognized as one of the nation's best sales centers.