As one of the largest professions in the country, sales is rarely offered as a major or minor to college students, even though more than 50% of college graduates will hold their initial job in sales.
Recognizing this gap between higher education and the skills needed to be successful in the workforce, universities have started to introduce sales programs into the curriculum. This educational experience equips students with the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to be successful in their careers. These universities are making strides in linking higher education and the sales industry.
Here are the top 6 sales universities in New England
(Listed by student enrollment size according to the Sales Education Foundation updated for 2017.)
Plymouth State University (founded 2009) (200 Students)
North of New Jersey and east of Ohio, Plymouth has the largest program in that geographic footprint. The program was started in 2010 by Bob Nadeau who teaches marketing, sales, and sales management. Bob is also a Business Consultant to organizations for business development and sales training. Students at Plymouth State University have access to Professional Selling courses and are directed towards internships where they gain valuable experience before graduation. The program has a Sales Advisory Board made up of 20 companies who provide advice on curriculum to keep it relevant and cutting edge. In Professional Selling II the students practice out-going new business development calls both in person and on the phone.
University of Connecticut (founded 2001) (75 Students)
UConn’s Marketing Department gives their students the solid training they need to excel in professional sales by offering a Professional Sales Leadership Concentration, a Certificate Program, and a Sales Minor. Marketing majors can choose sales as their undergraduate concentration and the Minor is open to business and non-business majors. The UConn faculty has extensive experience in professional sales and the university partners with corporate sponsors to strategize on sales techniques to help their students get jobs. Bill Ryan joined the department in 2011 and is the Head of Professional Sales and Marketing Leadership programs. He has more than 20 years of private sector experience and leads the outreach with employer partners that recruit students for marketing and sales positions.
Southern New Hampshire University (founded 2013) (60 Students)
Southern New Hampshire University offers Professional Selling as a general education course where students pursuing the minor must demonstrate the potential and strong desire to pursue a career in sales. Through one-on-one coaching, role-plays, and presentations, the students are critiqued by faculty and sales professionals. SNHU sales students have the opportunity to participate in local and regional sales competitions. Students are set up with the foundation necessary to start a career in sales. Micheline Anstley is the Director of the SNHU Sales Competition Coaching Program, serving as a mentor to those pursuing sales hunting roles after graduation.
Graduates of Sales Programs “Ramp-Up” 50% Faster and Experience 30% Less Turnover”
Bryant University (founded 2013) (40 Students)
The sales minor at Bryant gives students both a theoretical background and applied experience in the field. They also host the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition that draws students from the top sales programs in New England. The tournament style sales competition has students competing over cash prizes and also provides individualized feedback and coaching, skill and leadership building sessions, and a chance for students and employers to network. Dr. Stefanie Boyer created the sales program at Bryant and is the Director of the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition. She held various roles in training and developing sales professionals before leveraging her expertise and research into teaching.
University of New Hampshire (founded 2010) (45 students)
The University of New Hampshire, Sales Center for Excellence is a business community filled with prospective sales leaders. Funded by grants and investments from the business community, the intent is to make their students sought after job candidates in America for Fortune 500 companies. At UNH, the students are groomed for a professional selling career with coursework and hands on experience doing mock presentations, negotiations, and formulating strategy with business executives. James McIlroy is the advisor for the UNH Sales Club and is passionate about mentoring up-and-comers for success in the workforce. UNH also holds an annual Sales Competition, drawing in support from top sales organizations and giving students the opportunity to apply their sales education into real life selling situations.
University of New Haven (founded 2010) (30 Students)
The University of New Haven encourages their students to consider coursework in their specific areas of interest. Those completing the Professional Sales Minor will learn sales theories, start to learn how to understand buyers, initiate customer relationships, and deliver sales presentations. The students will be prepared to utilize well developed and rational decision making methodologies in handling customer dealings, team selling, employing techniques of self-leadership, and coordinate and execute activities that support the creation of goods and services. Charles Peterson is the faulty director and has over thirty years of sales industry experience. He is the founder of SaleMetrix, Inc., consulting with companies in over twenty industries in the areas of sales strategy development, sales & key account management, sales process implementation, sales training, CRM implementation.
It is counterintuitive that universities prepare accountants, teachers, programmers, engineers, etc. for careers post-graduation, but they miss the opportunity to prepare students for their most likely occupation, sales.
Even if a student does not pursue a sales career, they will still require selling skills that are relevant and required across different roles.
Universities that are incorporating and teaching sales programs are preparing students for real world challenges after graduation. Students gain the necessary experience for a sales career and skills that are transferable across all industries.
For more information on other universities offering sales courses, visit the Sales Education Foundation.