CSU dedicates the Bernie Moreno Center for Sales Excellence

By Megan Keleman

With a cut of the ribbon, the Bernie Moreno Center for Sales Excellence was officially opened at the dedication on Thursday, Sept. 19. 

As Sanjay Putrevu, the dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business, stepped to the front of the room, he went on to tell the recently-seated audience about the purpose for the center. 

A primary focus in his role as dean is “to work to do everything that we can do for students,” he explained. “So when you go to take your first job, your boss says ‘I’m glad you have learned these things.’” 

Putrevu concluded his introduction, and two guest speakers went on to tell the audience their stories.

Nic Barlage, the president of business operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, began by listing movies like “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Boiler Room” and the numerous Wall Street films. Hollywood gives people an unrealistic expectation of what sales is about. Sales is not a cutthroat industry where nobody cares about customer relationships. Rather, it is the foundation of how any business functions, Barlage explained. Without people who can generate revenue for the organization, things like the lights turning on simply won’t happen. 

“When you think about a program like this that Cleveland State has embarked on, it’s one that is very near and dear to us as an organization,” Barlage said. “We firmly believe that great cities are built around vibrant institutions, and we think that is what Cleveland State is becoming and will continue to evolve into over the course of time. We feel that the sales center, the Bernie Moreno sales center, in particular, will be a very unique asset to our community as we grow it.”

The second speaker of the event, Katlin Hall, started off as a marketing major that led her into the world of sales and, later, improvisation. She combined her interests in these two fields when she founded her Cleveland-based company, Improv2grow. Hall went on to “sell” the idea of sales to the audience by sharing how her own life was impacted by the seemingly less than glamorous world of sales. 

The CEO asked the audience what they thought of when asked what sales is and what salespeople do. Audience members blurted out words like “cut-throat,” “pushy” and “upfront.”  

One of the things Putrevu mentioned wanting is for students to gain the ability to sell themselves, specifically in an interview. Hall circled back to this point from earlier and discussed that people sell themselves every day and don’t realize it. 

She used the example of a job interview — where the interviewee must sell themselves to the hiring committee and explain why they stand out from the competition. 

“Sales is not about being the smartest person in the room. It is about being the best listener,”  Hall commented. 

“Sales has a bad rap,” Hall added. “And we need someone in sales’ corner saying, as [Barlage] mentioned, it’s an MBA in life, and I could not agree more with that statement.”

Last year, the college of business introduced its professional sales certificate. They had four graduates of the program, all business majors. However, this year there are students working towards this certificate who are not business students. 

The Bernie Moreno Center for Sales Excellence is located on the college of business’s innerlink — room 327. They currently offer the sales certificate for students in any major, and they are working on adding a minor in sales to the college’s curriculum.  

The center offers a place for students to engage with one another while continuing along in their sales certification. Students can go to the office to learn more about the sales certificate and how sales skills can benefit them in the workplace and in life.