With the economic downturn showing just meager signs of improvement, those in charge of corporate hiring are under increasing pressure to recruit people who are most able to show immediate productivity.
This is especially true in sales, and with this trend comes an increase in the number of universities which offer majors and areas of study in this discipline. According to the University Sales Education Foundation (USEF), 48 universities currently offer coursework in sales. Many of these programs provide hands-on sales training and these students frequently show faster ramp-up time and increased productivity when hired following graduation.
“For these reasons, it’s important for companies to partner with universities and work with them to create meaningful coursework that prepares students for the workforce,” said Sarah Baker Andrus, director of external relations & academic programs for Vector Marketing, the sales division for Cutco Cutlery.
Cutco Cutlery is the largest kitchen cutlery manufacturer in North America and sells its products through a national network of college students who sell through in-home personal demonstrations. Vector Marketing, the single-level direct sales company that markets Cutco, has teamed up with the University of Calgary, and Purdue, to offer hands-on sales courses that directly relate to the corporate sales environment.
“Our sales reps, all independent contractors, learn a variety of skills that corporate recruiters value,” said Andrus. “They include strong communications skills, working with a team to achieve shared goals, closing skills, and customer service, to name a few. But even more important is that college professors are enthusiastic about the opportunity to combine theory with practical experience which can be accomplished by integrating sales experience into the sales curriculum.”
The results are impressive. A former marketing/sales professor at Illinois State University, which has also worked with Cutco’s program, noted that there was a 40 percent lower turnover rate among his students who took a sales course as opposed to those entering sales without this type of training. The professor also reported that the starting salaries for these students were significantly higher, reflecting the value corporations place on this training.
“It’s clear that companies can avoid expensive turnover if new employees have this type of training in college,” added Andrus. “We believe that it’s in the best interests of sales-driven companies to assist in the educational process because, ultimately, they can recruit better prepared graduates while minimizing costly turnover.”
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