Should ‘selling’ be studied at University?
With the profession of selling becoming increasingly more complex, involving many more variables and the shift from product being at the heart of selling to strategic relationships, collaboration, true value, sustainability and transparency now on the agenda we believe it’s time for ‘selling’ to step out under the shadow of marketing and MBA’s to have its own degree status.
Recently I was invited to speak at the Melbourne Business School’s MBA Entrepreneurs program on the topic of selling. This was a great opportunity to put the topic of selling on the agenda. The feedback was phenomenal – the mostly young students had many questions that needed answers, ranging from how to sell effectively, prospecting, what it the right way to sell and the right sales mindset, to name a few.
The emphasis was on the practical as well as the theoretical. Their concerns about having the sales function and sales processes operating effectively in their start-ups and growing businesses were along the same lines as the questions many seasoned business owners and leaders ask every day. They were quite unaware just how much you need to know, learn and apply when it comes to selling, running a sales team and keeping up or ahead of your market on the sales front, especially now that social media is making such an impact on sales and marketing.
While selling strategies have been around for years the actual function of being a sales person and sales leader have been poorly regarded and understood, however in recent years there has been a growing body shining light on sales as a complex and skilful profession with most of the academic work emanating from overseas.
In Australia, there are currently topics or short courses (ie. up to seven hours duration) on the art of selling at some Australian universities, however, they are not very comprehensive and do not cover all the aspects that a skilled professional needs to know. There are certainly no degrees in selling in Australia. We understand that knowing how to sell effectively doesn’t happen until you get out in the field and start applying it, however, being well trained in the science of selling and understanding its many variables would help most people and businesses make a much better start. At last count there are 42 universities in the US with graduate and undergraduate sales courses on their curriculum.
At Barrett Research we view selling as an applied science where it fits perfectly well into a business school framework and so do not see it on the pure end of academic education. I believe we need more accredited courses or at least dedicated business courses where people can properly study the science and art of selling. Having tertiary trained sales professionals would certainly raise the standards of the profession.
We can take a leaf out of the procurement industry which is the fastest growing business profession. CIPSA has worked tirelessly to professionalise ‘purchasing’ and rightly so, given the enormous complexity facing the profession. There are now tertiary qualifications including degrees and post graduate programs in procurement.
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Remember, everybody lives by selling something.Sue Barrett practices as a coach, advisor, speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer and works across all market segments with her skilful team at BARRETT. Sue and her team take the guess work out of selling and help people from many different careers become aware of their sales capabilities and enable them to take the steps to becoming effective and productive when it comes to selling, sales coaching or sales leadership.To hone your sales skills or learn how to sell go to www.barrett.com.au.