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Sales Pitch

Why don’t colleges teach salesmanship? I’m sure we’re going to need it.

The moment you start work you realize that college did not teach you half of what you need. Salesmanship is a life skill used by all of us. It is not limited to careers in sales either, the first instance will be selling yourself to get a job. From that day on you will need to know how to sell in some form or another.

The job market has become far more competitive in recent years, and you need a degree just to get a basic position. Competition is high, with the employment rate for college grads at 88% last year, that is a lot of students going for the same jobs. A little salesmanship can put you above your peers in job applications and interviews. Your interview is a sales pitch and your resume the sales brochure.

In the workplace, you will need to rely on sales experience. Want some time off, a promotion, or a pay rise? You need to sell this to your boss and make them believe your reasoning. Need some extra expenses for your current project? Now you have to sell it to the accounts department to get the additional funding. Salesmanship goes way beyond working as a salesman, so it is a wonder why colleges do not teach it.

Compared to accounting or engineering, sales was traditionally seen as character-based service work which did not need any specialized training or education. Workplace training was very rigid and consisted of teaching sales trainees exactly what to say, wear and act. This mentality is still quite common, especially at universities which offer very little in the way of salesmanship training. Employers need to be selective in hiring grads that have innate sales ability, since they lack the formal education in this area, asserts management at a liquidation sales firm. Statistically over half of graduates are likely to work in sales at some stage regardless of their majors. Less than one hundred of the four thousand colleges in the U.S. offer courses or education in sales.

The changes created by the internet have empowered the buyer more than ever with online shopping. Customers no longer need a salesperson to tell them about what a company offers, so sales has evolved into customer support and guidance in making the right decisions. One firm that competes on the lowest cost to ship a car explains the internet has changed our traditional view of sales, which is now a research-based activity. A sales representative today is there to represent the company, since the client has often already done the research on the product.

Academia has had an inherent distaste for sales terminology and selling in general which is why courses are focused on business and entrepreneurship. While the sales stigma still largely remains, any college courses that focus on consumer behavior, verbal communication, and entrepreneurship should be considered if you want to increase your own salesmanship ability.

“My dad being a salesman taught me you can sell anybody anything if you’ve got the ability to believe,” Marilyn Manson.