Why We Need Sales in the Classroom
Traditionally, the sales profession has faced stigma and stereotypes. There is an unfounded belief that pursuing a sales career does not require a higher education, and that universities don’t need to teach selling skills. Not only is this bad for businesses, but it is also hurting universities.
Even though the cliché that sales is more of a trade rather than a respectable career has mostly been debunked, there is still discomfort around the idea of a career in sales. Why? Is it because students at universities aren’t being introduced to sales in the classroom?
Students attain degrees in business, marketing, finance, and management, but sales is rarely a major or minor offered. The sales industry as a whole appears elusive to many students until they graduate, entering “the real world” to find that sales is a major industry and profession.
Here are 9 reasons universities need to offer more sales courses to students.
1. Companies prioritize sales hiring
As companies look to grow revenue, they are focused on building a core team of talent around roles that directly correlate to revenue growth. According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends Report, sales jobs are one of the highest priority roles employers are looking to fill for 2017. Universities should be preparing students with the necessary learning experiences to equip them with the skills and knowledge to pursue these highly valued roles.
2. Sales jobs do require a degree
As the sales industry has evolved, employers are requiring a bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, a master’s degree for their open sales positions. According to Burning Glass, 56% of sales job postings require a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s important to once again point out that most universities do not offer a bachelor’s degree in sales. Sales professionals are in high demand, and an education in a specific area of focus is needed.
Morgan Ingram is a Manager, Sales Development at Terminus, an account-based marketing solutions provider. He is also the host of an incredible sales podcast called the SDR Chronicles. He explains that having sales taught in an educational environment is fundamentally important for students to help set them up for long-term success.
3. Sales is a changing industry
According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, all but the youngest baby-boomers will be of retirement age in 2018, leaving companies strained to fill sales roles. As Harvard Business Review points out, sales and marketing have evolved, with the introduction of new technologies. Ranging from forecasting, metrics, qualifying leads, managing a team, building out business models and quotas, and utilizing CRM systems, universities have the opportunity to teach desirable and scarce skills. Sales is no longer solely about product knowledge and pitches.
4. Sales jobs are hard for companies to fill
One of the greatest challenges companies face is the ability to find suitable salespeople to fill their jobs. According to Manpower’s Talent Shortage Survey, sales jobs continue to be one of the top 3 hardest jobs to fill in the U.S. On average, it takes employers over 40 days to fill sales jobs compared to 30 days for other jobs. Employers are finding it difficult to recruit and hire recent graduates with relevant professional and educational experience.
5. The sales profession continues to grow
Despite the belief that sales is a dying industry, sales jobs continue to be added year-after-year. If you were to run a job search on Indeed and type in “Sales” within the “United States,” you will have over 800,000 results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that sales will be one of the occupations that will continue to grow from 2014 to 2024, also listing sales as one of the higher median annual wages listed.
6. Most college graduates will work in sales
Regardless of whether or not a college offers a sales degree or course, more than half of U.S. college graduates will work in sales throughout their careers. According to the Sales Education Foundation, more than 50% of college graduates will hold their initial job in sales. However, there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. and less than 100 offer sales courses or programs. If so many graduates are starting their careers in the sales industry, why wouldn’t universities invest in educational training to prepare their students?
7. Sales is transferrable across industries
According to the Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study, 51% of recent graduates consider themselves underemployed. The term underemployed refers to working at a job that actually does not require their degree. Most universities do not offer a bachelor’s degree in sales, and if more than 50% of graduates work in some sales capacity that means universities are missing a big opportunity to better equip their students for the workforce.
8. Sales programs bring employer partnerships
According to an IBM study, only 41% of industry and academic leaders believe higher education meets industry needs. By forming partnerships, universities and companies can collaboratively close the gap. It would expose students to real-world experience while also enable companies and universities to support one another. Sponsorships would bring brand, financial support, and opportunities to students. It would also provide companies with prepared and educated talent to join their organization after graduation.
9. A career in sales offers growth trajectory
Graduates are leaving universities in debt, and are not obtaining a salary that is sufficient to pay off the loans. As a result, students are graduating with over $35,000 in debt while accepting jobs that don’t pertain to their degree. According to the Sales Education Foundation, average starting salaries for technical sales representatives exceed $60,000 which is above the median wage for all new grads. A degree in sales is transferrable and can be applied to nearly every industry that will set graduates up for success.
The traditional approach of separating sales from the classroom is antiquated. Although some universities have started to incorporate more sales courses into the curriculum, there is still room for improvement. These 9 reasons universities need to teach more sales courses are a good place to start to advocate for the academic and economic need for sales in the classroom.