Spencer Wixom

Last Thursday I was on campus at UT Dallas, in the Naveen Jindal School of Business, interacting with students studying professional sales as undergraduates. A poem I learned as an English student came back to me. It’s called Two Tramps in Mud Time”, Robert Frost wrote it. In the poem, the author is outside chopping his own wood on a beautiful April day. The motions, the sounds, the feeling of splitting logs, the work itself, brings him joy.

Out of the woods come a few seasoned lumberjacks. They notice his chopping and wonder why he would do, simply for the joy of doing it, something they do for money. What follows is a meditation on the merger of activities we do for a living and activities we just love to do.

The Future of Sales

Visit an undergraduate sales program that’s trying to elevate the profession, and you see the meaning of the Frost poem at work. You’ll find students not only sitting through theory lectures and combing through text books (on Sales, no less!), but rolling up sleeves and digging into the mechanics of the profession.

They have Social Selling Indexes that most professional sales people wish they had. They know the tools, the tech, the models and methods. These students actively prospect, role play first meetings, map buying journeys and practice closing techniques. This is tactical skill training, the kind you’d expect to see in top corporate training programs.

Competition is fierce. They muscle for rank among classmates and in national and international competitions. The prize at the end of the journey is sweet. Those at the top “sign” with large, notable companies and move right into selling complex solutions.

Learning with intent to sell

But this is SALES! Don’t people just find their way into sales at some point in a career? We should take notice when we see students learning and training with an INTENT to sell. That’s cool. That’s inspiring. That’s the future.

These students do it for the love of the game.  And that love is infectious if you spend time with them. Showing up as a salesperson is easy, mastering the art and science of the profession is hard, but rewarding in the same way any notable accomplishment can be with years of effort.

The students I met have a running head start because they come to the profession with hearts in the right place. They plan to do for a living the same thing they love to do. Robert Frost put it best,

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.


We at Challenger are proud to support the Center for Professional Sales at the Naveen Jindal School because we, like these students, see selling as a profession where growth and mastery are possible and deep satisfaction can be found.

Our mission centers on developing capability in individuals to deliver a sales experience that is uncommon in its quality and has a positive effect on the customer’s business.

These students remind us that any profession where individuals push for greatness and find joy in doing so has a long and fruitful life.  We hope we run into them as their careers progress and we can celebrate their accomplishments together.

Spencer Wixom

Spencer Wixom

Spencer is Vice President of Marketing at Challenger, and has helped transform sales and marketing teams in some of the biggest and best companies in the world.