It is estimated that 50 percent of all business school graduates find their first job in sales; however, not all students who enter the field find success. Students who have participated in a sales program experience less turnover. According to John Chapman, the Director of Business Development and co-founder of the North Carolina Sales Institute (NCSI), it’s because the latter group are being placed for careers in sales, rather than just jobs.
The NCSI at UNCG aspires to be the first choice in sales talent, sales research, and sales education. It was founded in 2015 by Chapman and Dr. James Boles, Chair of the Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, and Tourism.
“Job growth is in two main places: skilled labor and sales talent,” said Chapman. NCSI attempts to help students jumpstart a career in sales. It does so through partnerships with local businesses, classroom-based education, and research designed to expand industry knowledge.
Through the NCSI, students have unique opportunities to learn from sales professionals as the pros share relevant, real-world experiences during both sales classes and informal networking events. Business partners gain access to students interested in pursuing sales careers. Over a dozen area businesses have become partners, including Pepsi, State Farm, Chevrolet, Mac Tools, Marriott, and Charles Aris.
Beginning in Spring 2018, the Bryan School will offer a minor in sales. The course track is comprised of five classes. The courses teach skills like communication, influencing, and negotiation. However, students are taught more than theory. They also gain real-world experience building sales skills through cold calling, case studies, and team projects.
The sales courses, Chapman underscored, are not exclusively for Bryan School students. As a music major, Julia Goodson ’17 took the class in professional selling. She had no Bryan School affiliation but felt the course could help her confidence in sales. “Musicians working for themselves have to be able to sell themselves as performers,” she said.
The experience ended up doing just that. As a musician performing and recording original work, Goodson needed sales skills to better market herself. She also learned the importance of building a long term, trust-based relationship with customers.
International business major Rouven Wahlfeldt ’17 worked with Chapman to start a sales club as his Lloyd Honors College senior project. Rouven chose to focus the club’s goals on helping students expand upon skills that would be useful after graduation. For example, the club held a mock interview session to help students prepare for job interview. Ten representatives from area companies took part in the session.
Knowing that sales skills are important in multiple fields, Rouven emphasized that the sales club is an inclusive group for students of all majors. “All kinds of majors are more than welcome to participate,” he said.
For more information on becoming involved with NCSI, please contact John Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.