Should Sales Education be a Requirement at Business Schools?
Should universities do more to educate students on sales?
Educators at Harvard Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management think so.
In an article on Harvard Business Review this week, Frank Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter argue that academia is woefully out of touch with sales, and that while sales training mostly happens in the private sector that should change.
A few years ago only 101 out of the 479 business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business offered a sales curriculum.
Selling is an increasingly research-based activity, a change from years ago when “selling in most industries was less data-intensive and more dependent upon contacts and extra-curricular social relationships.”
With the availability of information online “most customers already have the relevant information about your product, your competitors’ products, and pricing differences and has probably called a colleague or two before you get to actually engage them,” Matt Hottle, founder of Redhawk Consulting said in a blog post on LinkedIn last year. “You need to add real value to your sales process by thinking about how you can facilitate purchases more than selling something.”
Cespedes and Weinfurter seem to agree, writing: “Prospects now touch a company at many points during their buying journeys and they expect the rep to purposefully orchestrate those interactions.”
The authors suggest that “effective training and development should begin with awareness and shelf space in the curriculum: making sure that sales is a topic in management education worthy of the name.”
The training “should continue with the cross-disciplinary study relevant to realistic training in the area… [a]nd it should probably culminate in action-learning practicums that require the help, support, and sponsorship of companies. These would expose students to real-world customers and experienced practitioners.”
With these changes, companies will have a better supply of talent to choose from.
However, with technology changing quickly, post-secondary institutions are having a difficult time keeping up. Recently a report uncovered that none of the top 10 US computer science programs at American universities required any training in cybersecurity.