Many people have misconceptions, and frankly, negative views of the sales profession. “And,” says Chris Kondo, director of Mihaylo College’s Sales Leadership Center, “I suppose one can find sales representatives who will stretch the truth to close the sale and earn their commission.”
But Mihaylo College graduates who go into sales today love the profession, their work, and find that integrity is key. Yes, you have to be competitive and persevere, but it’s more about building relationships, being a source of information to customers, and solving customers’ problems.
So how does the Sales Leadership Center relay this reality to students? Panel discussions and job fairs. The Center invites graduates to come back and talk about their sales careers so students who had one view of sales (that sales people are only worried about getting their commission and that they may be willing to lie) all of a sudden hear about people enjoying their work, helping customers, and traveling. And, here’s a fact that most people don’t know: many marketing students begin their career in sales. About 50 percent of business administration and 75 percent of marketing graduates start in sales.
The marketing department at Mihaylo College felt there was more that could done to prepare students for sales careers. So it started The Sales Leadership Center about five years ago. Complementing the marketing department’s professional selling course, the Center offers a series of experiential, workshop-style sales classes.
Experiential learning means that the instructors, who are working sales professionals, do not just lecture. They do exercises and lead discussions that complement regular academic classes. The classes are one Saturday, two Saturdays, or three Saturdays. Students are giving up their Saturdays to attend class so they want something different.
The Center started with Basic Sales Training and now offers, or will be offering, Sales Skills for Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Skills for Interviewing, and Sales Skills for Consumer Products.