Students Gain Real-World Sales Experience Through Partnership with Hickory Farms

Hickory Farms Food

Students taking the Advanced Sales and Sales Planning class (MKT 4500) this semester won’t be just learning about sales from a book in the classroom.  This class is “Going Beyond Business as Usual” with students “hitting the road” to sell Hickory Farms specialty gift baskets to businesses as gifts for their employees and customers. Proceeds from the student sales will be used to establish a Hickory Farms Sales Scholarship at BGSU.  

Associate Professor Dr. David Reid, who is teaching MKT 4500, states, “The partnership with BGSU is part of Hickory Farms’ effort to add value to their community through unique partnerships.”

A team of Hickory Farms representatives, led by Joe Loch, Senior Director, Corporate Gift Sales & Partnerships, has been conducting in-class sessions on Hickory Farms, its policies, products, and sales processes. “We’re excited to build on our relationship with BGSU and work with the staff here to create a unique learning experience for the students.”  The team joining Loch also includes 2015 BGSU alumna Emily Double who has been working in the company’s Brand Management team since last summer.

Students will be involved in the company’s online sales training program. Dr. Reid states, “Hickory Farms is providing students with access to Salesforce.com, one of the top sales automation systems used by numerous sales forces at all kinds and sizes of companies.  Mr. Loch will be training them on how to use it as well, providing students with hands-on experience with the system, how it works, and how to use it as they sell Hickory Farms products over the semester.  Just as in actual sales, both Mr. Loch and I will be using it to monitor their performance and to assist them in reaching their objectives.”

According to Dr. Reid, each student will be provided a list of sales prospects they will be expected to contact and sell to.  Students will also be given the opportunity to prospect in separate vertical industries to contact possible prospects for face-to-face selling. “For their grade for this portion of the course, the students will be assigned various objectives and their grade will be based on their performance relative to these objectives.”

In addition, the students will be writing and submitting a hypothetical sales proposal for a major gift sale based on a scenario provided by Loch.

At the end of the semester, Hickory Farms is hosting a formal dinner that will be attended by Hickory Farms executives. Recognition will be given to the top three students based on their sales performance relative to the objectives set.

Hickory Farms is headquartered in downtown Toledo and has been offering specialty foods and gifts for more than 60 years.   Its signature gift boxes and baskets include its savory sausages and cheeses as well as assortments of fresh fruits, nuts, wine and a new line of chocolates. 

Pictured with Dr. Reid and his class are Joe Loch, center, and left of Loch are Hickory Farms Brand Management team members Theresa Brashear and Emily Double. 

Group.Hickory Farms Project