Knowing how to sell is a high-demand skill and there’s always a need for salespeople in the work force.
“Georgia posted about 14,000 sales jobs last year and there were 98,000 nationally,” said Terry Loe, director of Kennesaw State University’s Center for Professional Selling.
Loe noted that about 50 percent of college graduates are hired in sales positions as their first job. With marketing majors, it runs as high as 75 percent. Yet many don’t last long in sales and turnover is high.
“Selling is hard work. There is a science and an art to it,” Loe said. “Sales can be a very lucrative and rewarding profession. From an idealistic standpoint, you are helping people get what they want and need.”
A common perception is that selling is only about having the gift of gab and a pushy personality.
“Contrary to that belief, those who are most successful spend 80 percent of their time listening to their clients and 20 percent talking. They understand the four- to five-step purchasing decision process and how to establish a relationship with their customers so that a sale can be a win/win situation. Fortunately, many of those skills can be learned,” Loe said.
For Georgians, that learning can be found close to home. KSU’s Coles College of Business is one of only 14 schools in the country that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and also offer a professional major in its bachelor’s of business administration degree.
Students focus on business-to-business and relationship-building sales techniques and strategies through course work, mock sales calls, shadowing sales professionals and internships with local companies.
They take basic courses in accounting, economics, statistics, finance, marketing and business operations, and major courses in professional selling, market analysis, sales management, advanced selling, international marketing and business-to-business marketing.
Students have an opportunity to compete in the National Collegiate Sales Competition hosted by KSU each year. Students from 65 national and international business schools attend, as do representatives of Fortune 500 companies.
“About 75 percent of the students participating will get hired at the competition,” Loe said. “But our [job] placement rate is 100 percent and most of our students have two or three offers after graduation.”
Recent graduates have been hired at companies including 3M, NCR, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, ADP and others, making starting salaries of $50,000 to $80,000 a year.
“If you’re in marketing, you draw a paycheck no matter how many hours you put in. In sales, you can put in more effort and make more money,” Loe said.
Loe, president of the University Sales Center Alliance, still consults with corporate sales teams and touts the entrepreneurial spirit of selling.
“If you’re good at it, you can go anywhere, so there’s great job security,” he said. “Knowing that you’re doing something of value to help others and your company is very rewarding.”
In-state tuition and fees at Kennesaw State are about $2,740 per semester for 12 credit hours.
To learn more about the sales major, call 678-797-2017 or 678-797-2513, or go to www.kennesaw.edu.
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