Ryan Mullins wants to change the way the world sees sales. Specifically, he wants to change his students’ views of sales as a career. As associate professor of marketing in the College of Business, Mullins has spent the last seven years researching, teaching, and helping others improve salesperson and sales force performance. Most importantly, he teaches his students to see sales as an exciting career that has a broad impact “from the stock market all the way down to the individual customer.”
When Mullins looks at a salesperson, he does not see Willy Loman, the ill-fated protagonist of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and he doesn’t want you to either. Instead, he advocates professional selling as a noble calling.
“Without a doubt, salespeople have many stereotypes that turn a lot of people off and deter students from considering sales as a career,” he says. “As a former engineer, I totally get it, so a big part of my role in the classroom is myth-busting. Once students see that selling is about building trust, sharing insights and helping – not manipulating – their audience, they drop their preconceived notions. It’s awesome to see students change their mindset about sales every semester.”
Alongside his teaching and research, Mullins plays an active role in leading Clemson’s new Sales Innovation Program (SIP) with new courses and engagement activities for students to learn and keep up with the dynamic world of professional selling. His latest success for SIP is brokering a new partnership with Arthrex Inc., a global leader in minimally invasive orthopedics, which has committed to a two-year pilot program that includes ten $7,500 scholarships. Mullins was selected as the provost’s Inaugural Innovation Fellow, and the program seeks to encourage faculty on campus to support corporate engagement efforts.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity that it’s going to afford our sales faculty and especially our students, both in the College of Business and university wide.”
Mullins graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2005, sticking around to earn an MBA there in 2008. In 2012 he earned a Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Houston. He was drawn to Clemson, he says, because it has so many similarities to Texas A&M.
“Clemson offers that hard-to-find blend of great values, a place on the national stage in athletics and a small, family atmosphere,” he explains. “Students and faculty are excited to be here, and I love the energy people have to think big and achieve great things.”
Mullins and his wife enjoy watching The Office and eating ice cream, and oh-by-the-way they have three children who are two years old.
“Everything seems a little easier after having twins and adopting in the same year,” he laughs.
Accolades and awards have stacked up on Mullins’ desk over his first seven years here, including a one-month period last year when he won a research award, had another paper accepted in marketing’s flagship journal, and received a grant to further pursue research in his area of expertise. He’s also made a name for himself by serving on editorial review boards for the Journal of Service Research and the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management as well as being an ad-hoc reviewer for six marketing journals and several marketing-related conferences and peer-reviewed competitions.
Even with all those accomplishments, he’s not close to resting on his laurels.
“I love what I’m doing, but I’m also passionate about building a national reputation for Clemson in sales education and research,” he says. “I look forward to exploring opportunities to make an impact in that space. I have enjoyed a lot during my time here so far, but I’m not sure there’s one moment in particular I would single out. If you ask most people, they will probably tell you that I think a lot more about the next thing I’m working on.”
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