What College Teaches You About Sales

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If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, nuclear scientist—just about any profession today--you’ll have to go to college and get several degrees.   At least twice a year, colleges and universities graduate thousands of new graduates, clutching diplomas that attest to the fact that they learned a body of knowledge and were deemed qualified to graduate and begin to work out their profession.

Fresh with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, these new graduates have a lot of knowledge and some classroom experience.  But college isn’t the real world and the classroom isn’t the same as the Boardroom.  New graduates soon find out they have a lot to learn once they land a job. A job is a different kind of laboratory where there are no homework assignments and consequences for getting poor evaluation.  You may find you’re out of a job.

Which is more valuable?  A college degree or real-world experience?   If you are headed toward a career in sales, you can learn a lot about marketing theory, economics, accounting, public speaking and product development in class.  You may know a lot about project management, time management and giving persuasive presentations.  You find out just how well you’ve learned your lessons by trying them out on real customers.  No more grades.  Your success is measured in sales quotas, making your numbers and closing sales.

Fast Company’s Drake Baer asked whether education gets in the way of the ability to learn in an article, “Do You Learn More Lasting Career Lessons In School Or In The Office?”  To earn a degree in marketing a college student at any college will take basically the same courses.  This cookie-cutter learning experience produces a lot of people who start out with pretty much the same knowledge base.  Can they survive in a work environment that is looking for individualism and creative thinking?  Companies are looking for new, fresh ideas.  Intrapreneurship is the new buzz word.  Companies encourage, even support employee work teams who create new products and services which can turn into new revenue streams for the company. 

Fast Company asked readers what they thought.  Is education more valuable than real-life experience?  The responses were mixed.  The real world is the proving ground for education.  With the world changing so quickly, the ability to adapt education to the real world is the key to success.   You may have great professors in college, but there is nothing like having a real captain of industry as a mentor, sharing her experience, successes and failures, and giving you the benefit of feedback and guidance.

A New York Times article asked the question if a college education is really even necessary.  Many young people, disheartened by a poor job market don’t see the point of spending four or five years pursuing a degree when they’ll end up working for minimum wage at a service job just to pay the bills.   They embark on a journey of self-directed learning, taking time to travel, self-learn through the Internet, volunteering, and creating online businesses.  No college means no years climbing out of serious debt for school loans. 

Successful sales people need qualities that are difficult to teach or train--a warm personality, openness and a natural curiosity. They need a genuine love of serving people.  They need to be creative problem solver, and good listeners.  Education can give you the confidence that you have the knowledge you need.  Applying that knowledge in the real world will allow you to create your own brand of salesmanship.

Photo Source:  Freedigitalphotos.net



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