Sales is all about leveraging the power of relationships.
So, it’s not surprising that over the past decade, the deepening relationship between Reynolds and Reynolds, a titan in business-to-business sales of automotive retail software, and Mays Business School has resulted in a close collaboration. This partnership has also translated into increased financial support, most recently through a $4 million gift through the Texas A&M Foundation to create the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute at Texas A&M University.
Ultimately, the company’s focus remains on helping Mays prepare Texas A&M students to enter the ever-changing workforce. “The investments that Reynolds and Reynolds have made over the years are significant,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones ’82. “But it’s more than the money. We have great relationships with these folks. They’ve been partners for quite a while, and they have hired numerous Aggies.”
The seeds of the partnership were planted in 2010 when Reynolds and Reynolds Recruiting Manager Sarah Stratta first met Dr. Janet Parish, Mays’ associate department head for marketing, at a planning meeting for a campus sales competition. “We actually sat next to each other at the table and in an instant, everything clicked,” Stratta said. “From that point forward, we were speaking the same language and had the same big dreams.”
Over the ensuing years, the women as well as their respective organizations have deepened their relationship. Since that 2010 sales competition, Reynolds and Reynolds has increasingly encouraged the company’s employees to become involved in Mays classrooms, programs and activities.
In addition, Reynolds and Reynolds has made significant financial investments to support Mays programs. The company became the founding partner of Mays’ Professional Selling Initiative with a $125,000 gift in 2015, established a $2 million endowment to support the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans in 2017, and committed $1 million to create the ReyRey Café in the proposed Mays building expansion.
Winning Sales Pitch
In 2015, Parish, director of the sales institute, set her sights on the ambitious goal of creating a named and recognized university-level center focused on teaching Aggies about sales. Reynolds and Reynolds was also interested in this type of endeavor and was seeking opportunities to make a financial investment that would reach across Texas A&M’s campus.
This synergy led to the creation of the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute at Texas A&M. “One of the things students need to know is sales. You’re always going to be selling something,” said Reynolds and Reynolds Senior Vice President for Hardware Operations David Shimek ’86. “That’s one of the things that the institute will be teaching—how to present yourself and how to sell yourself, whether you’re selling a product or yourself. That’s going to be important as students go forward.”
The new institute has already caught the attention of colleges across campus. The College of Architecture, the College of Medicine, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, and the College of Science are among those that have shown interest in involving their students in the institute’s efforts.
By partnering with industry and offering additional training opportunities and course offerings, the institute will elevate students’ awareness of the sales career path and help improve student job placement in sales positions. The institute also hopes to expand sales training facilities on campus with more role-play rooms supported by state-of-the-art technology.
Ultimately, the institute will expand the influence of both Mays Business School and Reynolds and Reynolds across the Texas A&M campus. “Over the past decade, we’ve expanded our support to programs such as the Sales Leadership Institute. These new initiatives focus on the total learning environment for students—where they learn, where they apply what they’ve learned and where they gain hands-on, real-world experience,” said Reynolds and Reynolds Senior Vice President for Corporate Development Robert Burnett ’87. “In the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute, you’re combining a top-notched sales curriculum and talented faculty with the critique and involvement of the best business professionals.”