Illinois State Continues Curriculum Incorporating Cutco, Vector Marketing Program

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For college professors Michael Williams and Jill Attaway, seeing students grow in chosen fields and landing good jobs after graduation are the most gratifying aspects of their jobs.

We set up a typical sales operation that you'd see at a Fortune 500 company

    Williams, Director of the Professional Sales Institute at Illinois State University, thanks Cutco Cutlery and its direct sales division, Vector Marketing (, for bringing real-world experience to students in this class for more than a decade.

The Cutco-Vector selling experience is an integral part of the Advanced Personal Selling & Sales Negotiations course and is offered to seniors during their final semester prior to graduation. "We set up a typical sales operation that you'd see at a Fortune 500 company," Attaway said. "We don't give grades only on sales completed, but rather on the entire process which also includes weekly sales reports, numbers of calls made, numbers of referrals generated, and numbers of product demonstrations scheduled."

Cutco, founded 59 years ago, sells its products through a national network of college students who sell through in-home personal demonstrations.

"One of the major challenges is to give students a taste of what professionals experience on a day-to-day basis," said Attaway, who teaches the class. "Many students were nervous about actually having to sell something as a part of the class, but as the semesters progress they see the value."

According to Williams, a high percentage of his students get multiple job offers upon graduation.

"Potential employers in all industries see the value of incorporating real-world work experience in the curriculum," added Williams. "It is clear that these students have an edge when they enter the job market."

The students, with input from Vector managers, learn the basics of personal sales, including:

-- Building immediate rapport with customers

-- Setting/achieving goals

-- Understanding consumer behavior

-- Time management

-- Demonstrating product advantages

-- Overcoming objections

-- Assisting customers with service requests

-- Building self-confidence

-- Team building

-- Communications skills

About Cutco Cutlery and Vector Marketing

Cutco Cutlery is a 59-year-old company with headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Olean, New York. Vector Marketing ( is the company's sales division that trains and coordinates the activities of the direct sales force of college students. The company estimates that more than 13 million U.S. households have Cutco products.

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