Western Carolina University
 
 
 

STUDENTS CALLING WITH
THANKS AND AN APPEAL

Image: Senior Brian Smith makes a call on behalf of WCU's Catamount Club; Jim Deconinck, associate professor of marketing and business law and director of WCU's Center for Professional Selling, assists a student.
Senior Brian Smith makes a call on behalf of WCU's Catamount Club; Jim Deconinck, associate professor of marketing and business law and director of WCU's Center for Professional Selling, assists a student.
 

Western Carolina University senior Brian Smith, a 2003 graduate of Chapel Hill High School, is among nine students in Julie Johnson's marketing class who are making calls to alumni and friends on behalf of the Catamount Club during the week of Sept. 4-8.

Smith, who was assigned to ask former donors to renew their giving, said he ended up talking with a 2-year-old at one home. There was a delay of about five minutes before the child brought an adult to the phone, Smith said, but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm for calling.

“I think it's fun. It's good experience for any sales major to have direct contact with different people in different situations. You have a chance to chat with people who are committed to Western, and they like to hear from students,” Smith said. It was even more fun when the 2-year-old's mother promised to give to the Catamount Club, he said.

Raising money for athletic scholarships is one half of this win-win situation, said Jim Deconinck, associate professor of marketing and business law and director of Western's Center for Professional Selling. The other half is giving students hands-on experience with selling. Each student is expected to make 50 calls, update information from the people who answer, and follow up by mailing a Catamount Club brochure.

Image: Bill Richter (right), executive director of WCU's Catamount Club, looks over sales call information with senior Brian Smith.
Bill Richter (right), executive director of WCU's Catamount Club, looks over sales call information with senior Brian Smith.
 

“Not only are the students helping with a worthy cause, but they're also finding out if selling is something they enjoy doing. While they're getting class credit for this project, it could lead to paid employment in the future, and it's definitely an experience they can put on their resumes,” said Deconinck, who provided coaching and encouragement to the students at work.

“It's been fantastic to work with these students,” said Bill Richter, executive director of Western's Catamount Club. “This is the first time we've involved students from a marketing class. Having skilled students working on this has upgraded the quality of our calls. We hope to develop the idea into a for-credit internship for marketing students, and we may be able to hire some of them for later phone-a-thon projects.”

While some of the students asked for money, others were assigned to call current donors and thank them for their support. Those calls include reminder for Catamount Club members who give $150 or more to attend a Rally in the Valley tailgate party before the football game against Appalachian State on Nov. 11.

“That invitation is usually extended only to people who donate $700 or more,” Richter said. “We're offering this special invitation as an incentive to encourage people to give generously to the Catamount Club. And we know they'll be cheering for the Cats during the App State game. Go, Cats.”


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Last modified: Friday, September 8, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University