Sales Class Challenges Students to Provide Creative Solutions for Nonprofits

Danny Loomans (BS `17) is used to consulting with a wide range of clients. As a business advisory consultant at Ernst & Young, Loomans helps clients transform their selling life cycles and improve customer service.

Loomans was first introduced to the consulting process two years ago when he was enrolled in Marketing 386: Social Impact Sales, an undergraduate business course that teaches students how to develop a sales and marketing plan for a nonprofit or social enterprise business. Taught by Charles Drehmer (BS `03, MBA `04, MA `16, PhD `17), executive-in-residence at the Driehaus College of Business Center for Sales Leadership, the class partners with a local nonprofit to provide marketing and sales solutions that benefit the community. After working in teams, students present their business plans to the nonprofit toward the end of the quarter. A winning team is then selected by Drehmer and the non-profit to present their creative solutions in front of executives at 3M in St. Paul, Minn.

“The Social Impact Sales class is extremely rewarding for both me and the students in that we truly make difference in people’s lives,” Drehmer said. “The class is as real as it gets, where students meet with the client to discover their needs and wants, design and execute a market research study and then present their recommendations to the client. Not only does the project provide students a hands-on real-world experience, they also get to make a positive impact on underserved communities.”

The class, which is offered every fall quarter, is sponsored by 3M, a global conglomerate corporation that produces a variety of products for health care and consumer goods. The company also support the social impact sales class at nine other business schools throughout the country.

In the 2018 fall quarter, students developed a marketing and sales plan for Chicago Community ToolBank, a nonprofit that rents tools to other nonprofit organizations in order to help them save resources. The project focused on a new program, Corporate Days of Service, which offers private companies a unique team-bonding experience where they use the ToolBank’s tools and facilities to build furniture that is donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Students also worked together to build bookshelves that were donated so they better understood what new service would entail.

Kim Grigsby, executive director at the Chicago Community ToolBank, credits the class with impacting future operations. “(I am) super impressed with my friends at DePaul University,” she says. “They were professional, hardworking and dedicated to the task at hand that led to several important things we will be incorporating in 2019 and beyond.”

Undergraduate business student Isaly Varela, one of the students who presented to 3M at the end of November, says the class improved her presentation and public speaking skills.

“The class has given us the skills to think critically about marketing and sales along with being comfortable with ourselves,” Varela says. “Any little thing can impact someone’s perception of a product based on the way you present it, or even the phrasing you use throughout a simple presentation. This class really taught us that every little thing and every little detail matters when attempting to sell a product.”

Danny Loomans
Danny Loomans

For Loomans, who served as a student ambassador at the Center for Sales Leadership while at DePaul, the class forced him to think creatively when coming up with sales and marketing solutions for nonprofit organizations.

“(The class) forced you to be creative about how you go about providing solutions for (nonprofits), and going up to Minnesota to present to the three 3M team was also very rewarding,” he says.

Loomans also credits Drehmer for preparing him for one particularly tough interview for a consulting position while job-hunting in fall 2017. Drehmer helped Loomans develop strategies for answering case-based questions during his interview.

“Charlie really helped the (social impact class) come to life and show me, personally, the importance of looking at nonprofits and looking at it from a business, marketing, sales perspective and seeing what value they provide,” he says.

Explore the undergraduate Sales Leadership concentration