Go Back to School – Even for a Night

Mike Cotoia
Mike Cotoia

Chief Executive Officer

Full-Time MBA Students BrochureAs COO, I am always open to ideas and suggestions about how to be more efficient and effective. Any ideas for changes, large or small, to improve our business operations are encouraged to be voiced by my employees. Some of TechTarget’s greatest innovations and processes were designed based on suggestions and questions raised by its workforce. While internal questions and suggestions are very powerful and insightful, I recently received exceptional guidance and insight on business operations from and unlikely source.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited back to my alma mater Babson College as a guest lecturer in Professor Vincent “Vini” Onyemah’s class, Building and Leading Effective Sales Force.  It was my second time being asked to present to his class and it was a wonderful experience for me, (and I hope the class got something out of it too!)  I started my lecture with a brief background about myself at Babson; how I graduated there with an Accounting degree, then worked at Deloitte & Touche, and became a CPA. As I told the class, the world of accounting probably wasn’t the best place for me, but I do keep up my license up to date from the request of my mother who likes to remind me, “you would never be able to pass that exam again so please keep up your letters as a fall back plan.”   Thanks for the vote of confidence mom; though I tend to agree with her.

The class, to put it simply, was awesome.  After the quick introductions they started firing questions and this proved to be and an equally beneficial activity. Because it was an MBA class, there was a great mixture of working professionals from high-tech, manufacturing, financial services, etc. all interested in discussing effective sales management. They brought in real-life experiences which they had encountered, while others who were full time students and not currently working would comment or ask follow up questions.  Some of the questions that we discussed included;

  • Who are your most successful sales reps and what makes then successful?
  • What do you look for when recruiting sales professionals and why do you look for that?
  • Do you think an organization should have an inside sales force as well as an outside team?  If not, why not? 

Participating in the conversation and hearing the comments among the students was highly valuable. During one of the discussions, one student presented an idea during the class that I will be implementing immediately within our organization. I owe him a follow up thank you.

The experience was incredibly eye-opening and I was very grateful to participate. That is why I have invited Professor Vini to bring some of his students from his undergraduate course, Managing the Sales Process, to shadow some of TechTarget’s sales representative, attend a weekly sales meeting, and be part of a Q&A session. We are very excited to have them come to our corporate office as it will prove to be a very educational event for both the students, as well as our organization.

As managers, within marketing or sales, there is incredible value in discussing with those who are currently reading case studies, textbooks and discussing business operations as they will provide in-depth insight, recommendations and lots of probing questions. I encourage you, and your organization, to go back to school and find opportunities to connect with business students; try to speak at your alma mater, local universities, or grab lunch with your college interns. You will be amazed with the amount of useful information and challenging business questions that are readily available in the minds of business students.

information source, MBA, Mike Cotoia, sales engagements, students

One Response to “Go Back to School – Even for a Night”

  1. Bill King

    Mike,

    Really enjoyed this post. One of my most favorite moments as an alumni was to return back to my favorite professors class and give back to inspired students who are eager to hear theory turned into practice. Education is a beautiful thing, but even more beautiful when it leads you to your life’s passion.

    Cheers,
    Bill King

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