Texas A&M University offers 133 undergraduate programs and is located in the heart of the Houston-Dallas-Austin triangle in Texas.
Weston Agrifood Sales Program
The Weston AgriFood Sales Program began at Texas A&M in the early 1990s and has grown and expanded over the years. It is now available as a sales minor within the Department of Agricultural Economics.
The Weston AgriFood Sales Program is designed to prepare students for a profession in business-to-business sales. The goal of the program is to develop emotionally intelligent sales professionals that are readily recruited by reputable firms.
The program aims to provide students with the resources to be successful through industry partnerships, self-management and self-awareness application, and high-impact learning environments.
Finding the right assessment tool
When Dr. Springfield was appointed director of the program, he determined an assessment tool would aid in raising students’ self-awareness and developing their emotional intelligence. He wanted a tool that would be easy to understand and easy to use. He chose the Extended DISC® Assessments to use in the program. Dr. Springfield envisioned leveraging the Extended DISC® Assessments as a stepping stone to developing emotionally intelligent sales professionals. The ease and simplicity of the 4 DISC quadrants and the Extended DISC® assessments was something he knew he wanted to add to the program’s toolbox.
Our goal is to prepare the students to make an immediate difference in their new sales position. We train them to be prepared, not only on the technical aspects of sales but also, the more personal and human aspects.
Dr. Clark Springfield ’84, Weston AgriFood Sales Program Director and Professor of Practice
One of the strengths of the Extended DISC® Assessments is the tool is designed to organically move from awareness to application. The assessments help raise self-awareness/self-management, situational and other awareness, and how best to adjust for the situation and person you are selling to. All of that is included in the reports themselves! DISC is leveraged throughout the course and is a favorite for many students.
Extended DISC offers various resources and tools from teaching the topic to applying the information. Throughout the program, students are asked to role-play various sale scenarios. A significant portion of the real-life, hands-on training in which students learn to apply these soft skills and emotional intelligence comes from their role-play experiences. Students use the Extended DISC® My Communication Strategy Worksheet to prepare for the role-play.
The worksheet walks them through how to identify the other person’s DISC style and a place to create a strategy for improving the interaction with that person. The students don’t need to create the strategy from scratch; they use their Extended DISC® report which provides them with tips on what to do and what not to do when interacting with the 4 DISC styles. The tips are specific to the individual and not generic. Having these specific tips really helps fine-tune the skill sets of the students.
The program emphasizes the soft-skill side of selling and Extended DISC helps to facilitate those discussions. DISC is used to guide students in thinking about how to build rapport with other styles, what motivates other styles to buy, and what other styles need. It’s really learning to treat others how they want to be treated.
Benefits and success
It’s important that students learn to understand the buyer’s needs and to communicate empathetically with others. The Extended DISC® Assessments provide students with a better understanding of themselves and their buyers.’’
Codie Wright ’15, Assistant Director, Weston AgriFood Sales Program
The program has seen significant benefits with the implementation of the Extended DISC® Assessments. The benefits are not only limited to the classroom but outside of the classroom as well. Program graduates have found careers in sales or sales management in agricultural products and equipment, medical devices, insurance, cyberspace and technical industries, and other fields.
I learned how to read a room and the right way to approach and interact with buyers — who ranged from ‘relationship’ buyers who liked to talk about their families to ‘spreadsheet’ buyers who wanted little or no personal interaction with me.
Alan Newcomb ’18, Sales Representative, Bamberger Polymers
Many graduates share that the awareness from the Extended DISC® Assessment provided them with a competitive edge in the recruiting and interviewing processes as well as within the job role itself. One graduate, who shared DISC results during the interview process, asked the recruiter, “why was I chosen over the other candidates?” The recruiter responded, “you had more self-awareness than the other candidates and were able to communicate your awareness."