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June 27, 2022

The Department of Marketing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business has announced a partnership with Axle Logistics for the department’s new Sales Performance Lab, slated to launch in fall 2022.

Axle, a third-party logistics provider based in Knoxville, has made a three-year financial commitment to support the lab and train sales students. The marketing department is creating a sales practicum class, anticipated to debut in spring 2023, in which students will call on prospective customers throughout the continental United States, Canada and Mexico to sell Axle’s logistics services. Axle will be involved in the course delivery and will make a donation to Haslam’s sales student scholarship fund commensurate with the level of new sales generated by students’ efforts.

Alex Zablah, head of Haslam’s marketing department, said the partnership with Axle Logistics models how industry and institutions of higher education can work together to help better prepare the business leaders of tomorrow. “Their financial support and willingness to collaborate with us to develop and deliver the sales practicum will provide Tennessee students with an experiential learning opportunity unlike any other available in the country,” Zablah said.

Ali Fraley, vice president of learning and development at Axle, said the company is excited to expand its long-standing partnership with the university into the creation of a professional sales lab. “It is our collective goal to bring real-world sales experience to the collegiate setting,” Fraley said. “We believe that curating this unique state-of-the-art environment within the Haslam College of Business will spark the entrepreneurial spirit in these students, setting them up for success well before entering the workforce.”

Commitment to Professional Sales Education

Located on the fourth floor of the Haslam Business Building, the Sales Performance Lab will be outfitted with a large, multi-input presentation screen, Zoom-equipped cameras and laptop computers equipped with all necessary software to access sales lead data and to call on customers. Besides supporting the sales practicum, the lab space is intended to serve as a hub for the college’s Professional Sales Forum and Professional Sales Leadership Program, with formal and informal seating areas designed to host activities such as student organization meetings, hands-on sales training, sales presentations and interviews.

“Independent of the specific career path our students choose to pursue, selling skills will be critical to their success in the business world,” Zablah said. “The Sales Performance Lab is a next step in our continued commitment to helping Tennessee students develop sales skills through an innovative effort that allows them to sell real products to real customers while receiving continuous coaching and feedback.”

Zablah expressed gratitude to Axle for partnering with the department to create the lab, as well as to Haslam dean and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair Stephen L. Mangum and college leadership for supporting the initiative.

“This is yet another demonstration of the college’s commitment to professional sales education and to the success of our students,” Zablah said.

Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu