My friend and sales trainer extraordinaire, John Barrows, has a great line:
There are over 4000 Colleges and Universities in the US. You can take Sales courses in fewer than 100. You can major in Sales in just 15.
Wow. There’s an obvious problem here.
Companies need a pipeline of sales candidates; while many Universities are producing graduates who’ve never seen the word ‘sales’ on the curriculum. Full disclosure: my degree in 19th century Russian literature left me unprepared for Day 1 at my first sales job.
Moving towards a solution
I recently met David McFarlane with the Entrepreneurship Center at UMass Boston. David has 25+ years in B2B with time as VP, Alliances, COO and most recently co-founder and CEO. He now serves as Director and Entrepreneur in Residence for the EC.
We had a good chat about ‘the state of sales education’ and David shared two ways that UMass Boston is addressing the problem.
1) Practical sales courses
UMass Boston offers a course on Entrepreneurship Sales and Marketing. David described it as ‘soup-to-nuts’ coursework for B2B. They take sales from the academic to the practical by including role play, live execution, and courses written and delivered by B2B Sales & Marketing practitioners.
2) Live selling experience
This bit is extremely interesting. UMass Boston has built a Market Development Center where students work on calling programs for local B2B technology companies. I think of it as the joining of an internship and pay-for-performance appointment setting. Students are trained on the tools, process & methodology for outbound calling campaigns: targeting new segments, bringing new products to market, account profiling, etc. Companies get immediate pipeline and a pool of future candidates. Not a bad deal!
The big idea here is that a different type of university graduate is possible.
One who is both familiar with key B2B concepts (inbound marketing, using CRM, persona-based messaging, outbound calling, power dialers, pipeline & forecasting) and has experience executing them hands-on.
Now comes your part
If you're local to Massachusetts, reach out to David to see what the Entrepreneurship Center can do for you. You can contact him here or on LinkedIn.
If you’re outside the Bay State, perhaps your local College or University has a similar program. The Sales Education Foundation put together a ‘top sales schools’ list that should be helpful.
There is opportunity here for all of us to participate. If you have the time, and inclination, there’s no reason you can’t guest lecture at your alma mater or a local college. The more B2B executives who spend time in the classroom, the better for the future of our profession.
Take Pete Gracey, President of AG Salesworks. Outside his normal job, he teaches Intro to CRM and Tactical Sales & Marketing at UMass Amherst. Those students are learning from one of the best!
How about you? Are you finding ‘sales program’ graduates? Have you reached out to schools in your area? Please let us know in the comments.
About Matt Bertuzzi
Matt writes about inside sales metrics & trends. He is co-author of The Outbound Index.
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