Marketing Professor Teaches Professional Selling Class Using New Technologies

Olga Di Franco

Olga Di Franco, Professor of Marketing

Marketing 401 is a Professional Selling course taught by Olga Di Franco that allows students to use as a typical salesperson would in an actual business environment.

Students are put into teams and then decide what technology is needed to run a business more successfully. They put together a presentation that describes what the technology is, how it works, why it is cutting edge and why the business needs it to be successful.

Di Franco brings more than 15 years of marketing experience to the classroom, and she is providing students with a competitive learning environment supplemented with the latest industry tools and technology.  She says she finds it very important to provide students with hands-on experience.

“I’m an academic but I’m also a practitioner,” Di Franco says. “I’ve worked in the industry. I try to teach [sales] theory to the students, but I also want them to understand how it works in the real world. I try to bring the real world to them.”

hoovers web pageThis course uses new technologies through websites such as, Salesforce, Hoovers and Brainshark. By using these technologies and different social media tools , students are given a real-life sales business environment.

“We use social media once we have identified potential buyers to verify who they are and to find ways to connect with them,” she says. “It is a tool we use to better understand our buyers.”

Many companies are using some form of sales technology but not all of them have time to train their new hires, says Di Franco.

Her sales class aims to prepare students to be more competitive in the new work force by learning and applying theoretical models and principles to professional selling and sales management. 

Students giving presentation “Students entering the new work force must have the opportunity to learn these technologies while they are still in school so they can market themselves and stand out from others who do not have this training,” says Di Franco.

For students looking to take this course and be successful, Di Franco advises them to be curious and stay motivated. She says students may struggle in this course, because they are used to the normal class structure that requires them to turn in papers, take a midterm and a final. This class is much more hands on.

“To succeed, it requires hard work, determination, motivation and creativity,” she says.

Di Franco has a lot to offer the Mihaylo classroom through her academic and industry experiences. She has been teaching for more than 18 years and has experience consulting with small and medium businesses locally. She has studied the retail market from both the consumer and provider points of view.

She began her undergraduate studies at John Cabot International University in Rome for two years and received her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the American University in Paris. After graduating with her B.A., Di Franco became the purchasing manager at American University. She dealt with capital expenditures and multi-million dollar budgets. She realized she needed to earn her MBA if she was to be dealing with such large budgets.

Di Franco took a leave of absence and earned her MBA in international business with a marketing and management concentration from California State University, Los Angeles. She returned to Paris for three more years and taught part-time at the American Business School. Upon her return to California, Di Franco worked for a private company in Pasadena where she helped develop sales and promotional strategies for major national retailers.

She was offered a teaching position here at Cal State Fullerton, and Di Franco says it is a perfect fit.

“I love the area, the people, all of the faculty and the students,” she says. “I love it all, and I consider Fullerton my home.” 

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