EUAS in the Americas: Southwestern Advantage Program: Part 2

A few days back we wrote about how three of our students – Kaspar, Liisbet, and Annika – are a part of the 150-year-old Southwestern Advantage program and are spending their summer in America. They spent their first week attending the sales school in Nashville, Tennessee, with nearly 400 students from the Baltics, Poland, and Slovakia.


Liisbet is sharing her experience and here’s what she said about what she felt about the USA and the Sales School.

I found people to be extremely friendly and very cool in their attitude. The first week at the sales school passed so fast that before we even realised it, we were boarding our flight to Texas.

But let’s start at the very beginning when we started our sales school on Monday. It was a 5-day training that started with meeting other participants of the Southwest Advantage program who had arrived a day prior. From the Southwest Advantage office, we all went to Walmart, and we were in for an absolute cultural shock, to say the least. The mere size of the place is massive. We underestimated how time consuming it would be to start exploring the American chain of retail stores and hypermarkets. Throughout the week, we not only faced the sun and its heat but also wind and rain. But all this only prepared us for the upcoming days and made us stronger. By the time Friday arrived, each one of us was reminded that it was definitely not a holiday. The entire week was aimed to prepare each student not just technically, but also physically and emotionally for the upcoming 12-week sales marathon.

Training topics include effective face-to-face communication, sales basics, safety, money planning, in-depth product knowledge, self-management and more. The sales school was challenging, and we were able to practice whatever we learnt in real-time. Each time we went from one door to another and got a “No” for an answer, we realised how different it feels in theory and practical application. The running around and staying on our toes actually made it furthermore exciting and by the time we ended the week, we were all ready to challenge ourselves. The experience helped us to motivate ourselves, and thanks to the highly experienced performers we got the push that we needed. The entire week was like climbing mountains of America, that made emotions rumble, as well as successes that made us more confident in dealing with families.

While new team members learn the basics of sales and how to cope, more experienced ones are taught leadership and advanced sales skills. For Kaspar it is already his fourth summer, and he has learned to cope well with himself and the results have been outstanding. In his second and third summers, Kaspar got to try to lead the team, helping the students participating in the program to prepare for the summer for the first time and instructing them in the summer as well.

Annika has been leading the organisation the summer before and feels comfortable in it. As he likes to say PPPPP (proper preparation prevents poor performance). The most important thing for him is that by the end of the sales school, the group is strongly connected, the goals are in place, and they are ready to conquer the mountains. Often it is the connections between the team that keep the group together and help to overcome more difficult moments. This truth applies both in summer and in everyday life.

As we landed in Texas, the heat is putting us to test, but getting out of our comfort zone is our goal. So, we have a smile on our faces and we are very excited!