Sales and engineering intersect at Marquette’s first technical sales workshop

The technical sales field bridges the gap between engineering knowledge and sales acumen, translating technical knowledge into successful solutions.

With its first technical sales workshop, Marquette University further established itself as a higher education leader in this space.

On Friday, Feb. 24, professionals and students gathered in O’Brien Hall for the university’s inaugural workshop: “Translating Technical Solutions into Customer Value: a value proposition workshop for sales engineers.” Co-hosted by the Opus College of Engineering and the College of Business Administration’s Center for Professional Selling, the half-day workshop improved participants’ skills in effectively communicating technical solutions and incorporating product knowledge into sales conversations.

Led by Dr. Jessica Ogilvie, associate professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration and director of the Center for Professional Selling, participants dove into the sales world through group exercises and interactions with industry leaders. The session included a keynote presentation from Michael Ribbich, Eng ’03, branch manager at Vyron Corporation, as well as an industry panel with Anthony Cavalco, Eng ’85, CEO of Nicolet Plastics LLC/TruVenture Composites, and Ryan Agnew, Eng ’08, owner at Pivot Resource Group LLC. These experts also acted as mentors throughout the session alongside Ogilvie, infusing the program with multiple perspectives from the industry.

“For technical sales, it is critical to have that industry expert presence to add personal insights to the topics and help coach our participants,” said Ogilvie. “We are fortunate to have such strong leaders among our Marquette alumni who are willing to support this new program. Michael Ribbich, Anthony Cavalco and Ryan Agnew brought this session to the next level.”

The workshop concluded with a toast of ’77 Golden Ale from Blue & Gold Brewing LLC, one of Marquette’s own student-run business ventures. Early feedback from participants has been positive and future offerings will follow a similar, industry-driven model.

Plans are already underway for additional technical sales workshops at Marquette, including repeats of February’s session as well as new topics and advanced programs.

“I have already started to build a business model for my startup, and the workshop helped me to explore more the value propositions of the technology I am developing,” says Antonio Martins, an engineering graduate student who is also developing his own technology startup.

“As we look to serve our industry partners and help drive innovation across fields, we are eager to expand our technical sales offerings and support for sales engineers,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering. “I am grateful to our Marquette engineering alumni for offering their voices and perspectives to this program, and to Dr. Ogilvie and our partners in the College of Business Administration for helping lead this new effort.”