USC is one of the few universities that offer any kind of sales-related classes and this begs the following question, “WHY DON’T MOST UNIVERSITIES TEACH SALES?” Here’s the three main reasons from my point of view:
Lack of Sales Domain Expertise. Within business schools there are plenty of instructors who understand financial statements and can lecture endlessly on topics like cost accounting. However, probably none have ever “carried the bag” and been in sales. And, learning how to sell takes a mentor-based environment which requires the instructor to have practical real-world knowledge, not just book smarts.
Inability to Understand the Intangible Side of Sales. Most of the business classes offered by universities are based upon “hard sciences.” For example, the columns on a balance sheet must add up and offset each other. This is far from the case with sales. Sales is more than a science. It is an art. Sales is the artful combination of structure and free thinking, process and people, and logic and emotions. Unfortunately, most business faculties don’t understand or even recognize the all-important intangible side of sales: human nature!
Fear of Sales. There’s an old saying, “You hate what you fear most.” Frankly, I think there are business school leaders who actually fear the subject of sales because they don’t understand it or don’t even like it. Partly because their only interactions with salespeople have been at places like car dealerships and they associate all of selling to this sordid type of interaction. As a result, they don’t respect the profession. Unfortunately, they miss the point that sales is an honorable career. The salespeople that I have worked with over the years have been intelligent, hardworking, ethical, and friendly.
I believe that “sales” should be a mandatory business degree requirement. Regardless of students’ business specialty and whether they are focusing on finance or administration, they need to develop sales skills. Because throughout their careers they will continually have to sell their ideas to colleagues and convince others to follow their lead. Ultimately, to become a leader of any organization (whether a CEO, COO, or CFO) you must understand the sales function. I applaud the leadership at the USC and hope other universities will follow their lead and add sales to their curriculum.
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