Why colleges ought to get serious about sales – the story continues

Building sales skills at universities

Recently we posted a blog discussing that historically universities have neglected the field of Sales.   We went on to explore why the time may have come for that to change.  We suggested that instituting programs in Sales would bring benefits not only to the universities and their students but also to the field of Sales and the marketplace. In fact, a recent CNNMoney piece shared 10 business courses we wish colleges offered – and Business Sales was one.

Both Janet and I have an extended history in universities and in the field of Sales.  We wrote the previous blog because we strongly believe the topic is of significant importance both to the university community and to the field of Sales.  As we discovered others clearly shared that viewed as reflected by the number and quality of the comments the blog generated.

Given all that, we continue to look for others who are writing on the topic.  We recently came across an interesting Harvard Business Review blog by Suzanne Fogel, et al.  The authors reported a couple of points that were worth highlighting for the ongoing discussion:

  • Research conducted by DePaul at a major industrial manufacturer indicated that among sales personnel hired over a 10-year period, those coming from sales education programs hit the break-even point in their territories 30% faster. Moreover, their tenure with the company averaged 40% longer.
  • In regions desperate for jobs, good sales positions go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. People unprepared to excel at them fill many sales jobs. For at least five consecutive years Manpower, the recruiting and workforce development firm, has ranked Sales as one of the hardest positions to fill.

In closing the authors make the point – “the best way to launch new sales education programs is for universities to partner with industry.”  We suggest that is an idea worth exploring.  If both entities come to the party, better results can be achieved in regard to issues such as: faculty for instructing the programs, best practices for crafting the programs, research opportunities, and internships.

In today’s market it is very difficult to sustain a competitive advantage by product line – global competition is too keen and manufacturing technology is too advanced.  Today, a sales team must not only be able to sell a competitive advantage; they must be a competitive advantage.  This requires exploring new and innovative ways to help future sales people be as good as they can be – universities can and need to play a part.

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©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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