Growing a business requires more than just a good product offering. It requires good people to promote it in the market. Salespeople are the face of the organization; they represent the firm brand and have the most immediate influence on customers. Given the amount of information available to buyers, informed salespeople can assist in differentiating information that has value from information which should be ignored. Great salespeople are excellent listeners, astute problem solvers, and subject-matter experts.
Unfortunately, people (generally speaking) have a negative perception of sales as a career option. An article in the Wall Street Journal by Lauren Weber on February 6, 2015 titled, “Why It’s So Hard to Fill Sales Jobs,” highlighted the difficulty in attracting people to the field due to its perception of being high risk and competitive. While this may be true to some extent, a career in sales can also be very lucrative in terms of financial compensation.
The reality is that one out of nine people in the U.S. workforce is employed in sales. Professional selling represents the second-largest employment category. Universities recognize the market need for skilled sales professionals. According to a biennial survey produced by The DePaul University Center for Sales Leadership, the number of U.S. colleges offering sales educational programs increased from 44 in 2007 to 101 in 2011. However, most salespeople you encounter on a daily basis have minimal, if any, formal training in sales.
There is some truth to the reality that some people are born salespeople. However, research clearly shows that sales skills can be developed by just about anyone with the desire to learn. Formal sales training involves a focus on interpersonal prospecting techniques (versus cold calling), relationship building, consultative selling, visualization techniques, adaptive selling and the effect use of silence. Salespeople have to be able to demonstrate and communicate product expertise and market knowledge. Sales training increases confidence and prepares salespeople for specific situations. All of these critical success factors can be taught and have been shown to positively influence sales performance and employee job satisfaction. Sales training has been found to reduce salesperson turnover and enhance organizational commitment.
The reality is that everyone engages in sales – every day. We sell ourselves (job interviews) and commonly attempt to persuade and influence others’ behaviors and attitudes. In our daily interactions with others we share information and build relationships. These communications are the basis of sales. Since we all do it to some degree, why not do it well?
Dr. Robert T. Burrus, Jr. is dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Before taking on the role, Burrus was the department chair for economics and finance and a professor of economics. He has been on Cameron’s faculty since 1998. The Cameron School of Business has 90 full-time faculty members and 29 administrative and staff members. The school hosts approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 170 graduate students. International students come to study at Cameron from all over the world. The Cameron School of Business is AACSB accredited; offers capstone experiences; houses a Financial Trading Markets Room; provides for overseas learning opportunities; and is a founding member of the Trans-Atlantic Business School Alliance. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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