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Strengthening Sales By Dr. Blake Runnalls

Strengthening Sales By Dr. Blake Runnalls
Dr. Blake Runnalls joined 29 fellow faculty and staff members at the College of Business in earning his Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach certification.
Two years ago Dr. Blake Runnalls arrived at Nebraska as an assistant professor in marketing who taught in the Center for Sales Excellence. He had just completed his Ph.D. at Michigan State and his dissertation focused on studying the impact that knowledge networks have on the successful implementation of sales training. This summer, he and 29 faculty and staff became Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches due to a generous gift from Gallup and an investment made by College of Business leadership.

By Dr. Blake Runnalls

The moment I learned about the opportunity to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, I began to think how such a prestigious designation could fit into my professional goals. I figured it would also bring about many new and exciting opportunities with students and colleagues at Nebraska and executives within and beyond our alumni network.

One essential element to become an effective teacher is to build rapport with students. Because strengths is a common language at the College of Business, I knew the certification would allow me to immediately connect with students and colleagues on a topic that permeates the fabric of our college.

Dr. Blake Runnalls shares strengths information with
Katie Steuter, senior marketing major from West
Point, Nebraska; Sean Lynch, junior marketing major
from South Elgin, Illinois; and Emma Eastman, senior
marketing major from Orono, Minnesota.
Dr. Blake Runnalls shares strengths information with Katie Steuter, senior marketing major from West Point, Nebraska; Sean Lynch, junior marketing major from South Elgin, Illinois; and Emma Eastman, senior marketing major from Orono, Minnesota.
The week-long strengths class was both challenging and extremely rewarding. I got to know many of my colleagues beyond emails and passing in the hallways. The biggest impact was recognizing and understanding my own strengths. It was a true self-discovery process.

My top five strengths in order are Futuristic, Significance, Competition, Focus and Strategic. In essence, I connect dots and plot a future that I believe will be positive for my colleagues, the college and myself. My competitive strength drives me to develop the Center for Sales Excellence as the preeminent sales education institute for students and practitioners in the Big Ten. Our core competency revolves around embracing, nurturing and integrating individual and team strengths into the sales process.

After becoming certified and talking with Dr. Ravi Sohi, the executive director of the center and chair of the Department of Marketing, I decided to incorporate strengths into my fall sales course. Strengths could be a core differentiator between our center and the hundreds of other sales centers around the nation and globe. I shared with Laura McLeod, assistant professor of practice in marketing and sales, and found out she was also a certified strengths coach. We both adopted the book “Strengths-Based Selling,” authored by Nebraska alumnus Brian Brim, as part of our course readings to expand our students understanding on how strengths can be used to improve individual and team selling performance.

Being a member of this past summer’s coaching cohort energized me to make Nebraska a top business school. Along with colleagues across our college, we strive to increase the success of our students and the quality of their educational experience.

The idea of positive psychology is extremely powerful. With supportive faculty and staff at the College of Business, incoming students join a close-knit community that cares not only about their success in the field of business but also about their personal lives.

Top Provider of Sales Education Because Everyone Sells
Students learn how to pitch their ideas, sell themselves as future employees and influence others. They develop sales skills in hands-on projects and using a state-of-the-art role-playing lab.

  • 5 years in a row named a top university for sales education by the Sales Education Foundation
  • 118 students currently pursuing certificates
  • 183 students earned certificates
  • 9 corporate partners provide professional
  • development and partner in research projects

Stretching Students’ Strengths Where Strengths First Started
Learning where strengths-based psychology began, students take the CliftonStrengths® assessment in the Investing in Strengths (BSAD 111) course their first semester and receive one-on-one coaching to achieve individualized academic, personal and professional success. Through coursework and programs led by the college’s Clifton Strengths Institute, Nebraska is a national model for strengths-based education.

  • 3,000+ students received 1-on-1 coaching on top five CliftonStrengths®
  • 225+ trained student strengths coaches help first-year students identify and develop their natural talents
  • 40+ Gallup-Certified faculty and staff at the College of Business
  • 74 entrepreneurial-minded students earning a Clifton Builders management major or minor to better build businesses, teams and communities
Published: November 10, 2019

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