Fredonia grad teams up with incubator to develop business sales course

(FREDONIA, NY) – George Simmons, who received a B.A. in Political Science in 1975 from the State University of New York at Fredonia and is now a senior partner at a sales and marketing consulting firm based in Boston, Mass., has engaged with his alma mater to fulfill what he believes is an essential market need – graduates with experience in selling – that’s not being met.

Working with Fredonia Technology Incubator Director Chuck Cornell, Mr. Simmons offered his time, expertise and financial resources to support the planning and launch of an initial course, BUAD 350: Special Topics. Business to Business Selling, at Fredonia.

School of Business Interim Director Linda Hall worked with Mr. Cornell and Simmons to pave the way for the special topics course as a trial balloon, to both gauge student interest and to develop external partnerships.

“Sales is not what it has been perceived to be for many years; it is something I have been passionate about for most of my life,” said Simmons, a senior partner at Derby Management for the last 19 years. “Careers in sales (especially inside sales) are not just high paying, they are one of the most satisfying – you are providing better solutions to business problems. The trouble is there are not enough trained graduates in this field.

“I think SUNY Fredonia can be on the cutting edge in solving this workforce need and graduating more career-ready students,” Simmons said.

“We are continuously looking at ways to provide unique opportunities and pathways for our students at SUNY Fredonia,” Dr. Hall said. “Students in this course gain a certification with a well-known customer relationship management (CRM) software and interact with professionals in the field of sales. Micro credentials earned in their field while still in school make our graduates stand out,” Hall said.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “More than 50 percent of U.S. college graduates, regardless of their majors, are likely to work in sales at some point. But of the over 4,000 colleges in this country, less than 100 have sales programs or even sales courses, and of the more than 170,000 students who earn MBAs annually, only a tiny fraction learn anything about sales.”

The ultimate goals of developing a proposal for sales courses at the university are to provide quality education and training opportunities to Fredonia students who are interested in a sales career, to prepare qualified candidates to fill entry-level sales positions in Western New York and to provide opportunity for students to develop entrepreneurial skills.

Fredonia is again offering Business to Business Selling this semester and is planning additional courses to establish a pathway for students to gain a comprehensive education in the field. The School of Business is also seeking private sector partnerships with Western New York companies that have a sales team to develop internship and applied learning opportunities, create opportunities for guest lecturing and to enhance the Western New York workforce for sales positions.

In his “day job,” Simmons specializes in projects involving senior sales talent recruiting, sales optimization processes, sales management design, value propositions and sales metrics. He has held all C-level positions with the exception of engineering at both public and private companies in a variety of industries in the areas of software, tech hardware, medical services, distribution, industrial products and packaging.

In addition to being a Fredonia graduate, Simmons completed Northeastern University’s MBA program. Simmons and his wife and large golden retriever live in the Boston area, and he is also active in a variety of maritime and coastal organizations.

Derby Management was formed in 1990 and has worked with over 400 companies, providing their management with extensive strategic and tactical skills resulting in creating operating business plans, reducing sales cycles and increasing sales and marketing productivity, producing financial planning and fundraising and coaching senior management.

Fredonia’s School of Business has a tradition of excellence which is consistent with the university’s high ranking among the finest public universities in the Northeast — and among the most affordable options in higher education.

The School of Business offers a wide range of business programs in Accounting, Public Accountancy, Finance, Management, Marketing, Business Administration, Music Industry, Sport Management and Economics. All programs in the School of Business introduce students to the latest technology, global and cultural components of business, experiential learning and practical internship opportunities. The course work emphasizes critical thinking, communication skills, business ethics and professionalism.

The Fredonia Technology Incubator, an economic development program of SUNY Fredonia, works with external partners to promote economic growth by supporting entrepreneurship and the development of new, innovative companies into successful business ventures. The incubator provides administrative and business services, mentoring, networking, professional consulting, educational opportunities and access to capital and work ready space.