Sourcing Future Sales Leaders


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A few weeks ago, I got a call from Howard Stephens, Chairman and CEO of HR Chally.  He wanted to talk to me about one of his passions, sales education in our colleges and universities.  He gave me some interesting data.  (I may have the numbers off a little–if there are errors, it’s my fault).

  • For people graduating from college, 50% of them go into a first job as sales people.
  • There are only a little more than 3 dozen colleges in the country (out of over 4000) that have a formal sales program in their curriculum’s.

It’s important that our university’s and colleges offer courses on sales as part of their business school curriculum.  I think back to my own MBA.  We had lots of finance, accounting, marketing, OD, OR, and strategy courses.  But there wasn’t a single course on sales–and the marketing courses barely even touched on sales.

It’s important that colleges and universities start providing some education about the function.  How does the sales function fit into the organization, what does the function contribute to the organization, what are the critical processes, programs, capabilities high performing sales organizations put in place?  What are the different forms of selling (direct, indirect, eCommerce, telesales, etc.)?  What is the relationship between sales and buyers?  How does sales contribute to the customer’s buying process?  The list can go on.

In my opinion, it’s less important that colleges and universities try to teach a person how to sell–frankly I think company sponsored sales training, or some of the leading sales training companies can do a much better job of that.  But getting a strong foundation about the role of the sales function within an organization will accelerate the ability of new sales people to perform, and will contribute to improving the overall professional practice of selling.

Howard invited me to an upcoming meeting of the University Sales Education Foundation.  I’m interested in learning more about what they are up to.  However, as a group, sales professionals can exercise a lot of influence and persuasion.  Our companies are involved in universities, whether it’s recruiting, sponsoring programs, or other activities.  Many of us are active in our alumni associations.  We should extend the conversations we have to talking to them about how colleges and universities can contribute to the growth of the profession.

Am I off base, or does this make sense?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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