Monday May 24, 2010

Growing Sales Opportunities

As one of only a few university-level sales programs in the nation, the new Center for Professional Selling will help business students compete for and succeed in jobs in this high-demand field.

Although many college graduates find themselves in sales jobs after graduation, only a handful of universities in the U.S. have professional sales management programs.

To help fill that gap and address rising demand from both students and employers, the University of Dayton on Thursday, May 27 will launch the new Center for Professional Selling. It's one of only about 40 such programs in the nation.

"The sales center will create opportunities for students both within and outside the school of Business Administration to develop essential communication and selling strategies. As every business professional knows, selling is a universal skill, regardless of job title," said Matthew Shank, dean of the business school.

Shank said that according to the University Sales Education Foundation, more college graduates will become sales people than all other careers combined, but there is very little sales curriculum at U.S. universities.

Increasing the professionalism of the field will also increase opportunities, said Howard Stevens, CEO of the HR Chally Group, a national leader and advocate for developing university-level sales training education and curriculum. HR Chally is an international talent management, leadership development and sales improvement corporation based in Dayton.

"Developing a professional career platform in sales raises the value of a terminal baccalaureate degree to that of students who go on to full professional status in law, medicine and other advanced specialties," said Stevens, who will be guest speaker at the May 27 luncheon to launch the center.

Shank said the University's department of management and marketing currently offers courses leading to a sales management emphasis for marketing majors and has found many of those graduates are aggressively recruited by employers.

"The center's focus initially will be developing sales professionals as strategic partners for business-to-business selling, concentrating on technology-heavy industries," Shank said. "That's an area of strength in the region and a growing need that isn't being met by existing sales programs."

Professional sales training is something that can save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee recruitment, training and turnover costs.

"Having someone join the company with a sales management education out of the gate is critical for improving the odds of success," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the management and marketing department. "It's the difference between having someone who can hit the ground running and someone who can't in a sales role."

Faculty member and sales professional Tony Krystofik, who will guide the launch of the center, said it will host a variety of sales activities including corporate outreach, assistance and coaching to help students prepare for sales-related competitions, noteworthy speakers and professional development workshops.

"We send a team of University of Dayton students to compete every year in the National Collegiate Sales Competition, something that helps raise our profile and gives our top students incredible opportunities," Krystofik said. "We also are developing a local sales competition and will work closely with the business community to develop internships and networking opportunities."

For more information, contact Cilla Shindell, executive director of news and communications, at 937-229-3257 or