Sales is a profession that doesn’t get much respect. More often than not, if you tell someone that you’re in sales they immediately think of all the bad sales experiences they’ve had and knock you down a rung in their mind.
Even though they’ve had bad experiences with all sorts of other professions, salespeople stand out. Part of that comes from a bias passed down through generations. But another reason for that mindset is that people generally don’t think of sales as being a skilled trade that requires training and study.
If you’ve been in sales, you know that’s simply not true.
When UCO started our Professional Selling Program, the intent was to produce graduates who could go out into the world and be competent, successful salespeople. We discovered along the way that the program and other university programs like it have begun to change the perception of sales.
It wasn’t something we specifically set out to do, but we’re happy that it’s happening.
Historically, sales hasn’t been considered an academic pursuit and very few colleges offered professional sales curriculum or degrees. Even today there are only around 100 colleges in the US that offer professional sales programs and in many cases, just as a minor.
Which seems strange because sales can be just as complex and challenging as other fields like finance and business management that have had degree programs for a long time.
As professional sales programs have developed we’ve noticed that more and more businesses are now looking for candidates with degrees in sales. They’ve seen the first sales graduates come into their business already operating with an established sales system and ready to hit the ground running.
Seeing the difference between a new salesperson who is having to figure things out on their own versus someone who has gone through a program like ours goes a long way towards changing the perception of professional sales as a craft.
That’s not to say there aren’t great salespeople who maybe never even went to college. Those of us who have been in sales since before formal sales education was available have had to put our own education plan together.
For someone starting out, getting an education in professional sales just helps them become skilled faster.
That’s what hiring managers and their peers are beginning to pick up on. At a time when people in many other professions are struggling to find jobs, our graduate employment rate is almost 100%. That makes me think businesses are starting to take their salespeople more seriously.