Lauren Dani: Selling solutions

Contact: Stacey Anderson

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Formative childhood experiences often stick with us and contribute to our identity. For Lauren Dani, a Western Michigan University senior from Plymouth, Michigan, her family’s business opened up an opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective on many aspects of the business world.

“Growing up, I would go to trade shows with my parents who owned a home décor general store. I started going with them when I was 12 years old, and I loved everything about the experience. I remember always thinking that the sales reps from the companies we worked with were the coolest people. I enjoyed looking through catalogs and displays with them, and they were always able to help us find products that fit our store. They truly cared about our success. These fond memories made me lean toward sales as a career; and when I saw that Western Michigan University had a nationally ranked sales program, I knew that sales at Western was the place for me.” 

The decision to major in sales and business marketing at the Haworth College of Business has given Dani her professional purpose, and she says she has had several pivotal experiences as a student and intern that have prepared her for her career. 

“I was chosen to represent WMU at the National Collegiate Sales Competition in spring 2023. I traveled to Atlanta  and placed in the quarter finals of the competition,” she says. “I was then asked to be the coach for the next team, which was a huge honor for me, and I am currently helping them prepare for this year’s competition.”

Being able to coach and mentor other students is a natural talent that Dani has discovered and that her faculty members have noticed. Dr. Jim Eckert, associate professor of marketing and one of her close mentors, saw her talent in this arena and asked her to serve as the director for the WMU Sales Challenge, a high school competition that WMU Haworth hosts.

“I watched and evaluated over 250 students in order to select the top 80 students and run the in-person event. It was extremely rewarding seeing the competition come together, and watching the planning turn into a success; I grew a lot as a leader,” says Dani who also serves as vice president of the Sales and Business Marketing Association where her leadership opportunities include networking with more than 75 employers who want to connect with WMU sales students. 

Lauren Dani motioning at whiteboardBeyond her campus involvements, Dani held a medical education marketing internship within the emergency care division at Stryker. Her main project consisted of conducting interviews with the medical professionals that partner with Stryker’s sales force in consultant roles. She reached out to 25 sales representatives and four regional managers to understand what information they needed from the interviews. Ultimately, she was able to record and publish 20 interviews with the consultants and get over 100 views and reviews from the sales force on them. She also re-envisioned the sales training website for new sales reps, creating original learning modules for the training. 

“I loved this internship, as it gave me the freedom to make decisions on several important projects,” she says. “I had full creative freedom on how the interviews would be structured, and I wanted to make sure I made them as impactful as possible.”

Dani’s mix of student leadership and professional experience has been the perfect fit for her, and fellow sales majors agree. In fact, 100% of recent sales and business marketing graduates felt their education and experiences as a student at WMU prepared them for their profession, according to the latest WMU Career Outcomes Report

Dani recently accepted a full-time marketing associate role with Stryker.

“After graduation, I will be re-joining the emergency care division, which I worked with during my summer internship, and I could not be more excited. This position will help set me up for success, as I will be able to assist the sales force and provide value to both them and their customers. My main goals in my career are to be able to have a meaningful purpose going into work every day and to be able to help others. I think this position will help me do just that.” 

Dani credits the entire sales program in helping her develop her selling technique.

“Focusing on understanding your customers’ needs and tailoring a solution to them is the most important thing I have taken from the sales program. I feel when people think of sales, they think of a stereotype of someone trying to sell a product that doesn’t work, or that the customer doesn’t truly need. But learning to sell at Western is about simply understanding the needs of the customer and finding a way to bring value to them with your solution. With this comes honestly hearing what each customer needs and analyzing if your solutions will solve their challenges or not.” 

Being focused on the customer often puts Dani in the mind of the sales reps she met when her parents were sourcing products for their store, and she is reminded how they cared about the success of their family business and truly wanted to provide the best options. That is what Dani intends to do for the rest of her professional career. 

Learn more by visiting the sales and business marketing program webpage

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