By my current count, there are sixteen 4-year, accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. offer that offer an academic degree in sales. (You can find a list of these plus a few foreign schools plus other schools with some sales-related programs here.) I looked through these schools for one to pick on and selected Florida State University. “Pick on” wasn’t how I started this post, “focus on” was. However, when I focused, I had some questions, and the answers rapidly devolved into “pick on.”
I’m sure FSU’s program is great. They have about 100 Professional Selling students studying at any given time, they have facilities and faculty and partners, they do research, they participate in competitions, they offer internships and special projects, etc. They even have the FSU Selling Institute. A genuine institute!
But they have four, count them, FOUR, courses focused on selling. And one of those is a composite of one or two of the other sales courses plus an internship or competition or project. So they really have three courses. THREE!
All the other prerequisites for the degree are in math or economics or marketing or communications or whatever. All very interesting, but they’re not selling-centric. Why do I need calculus to get a degree in Professional Sales? Yes, calculus is a required course. And I have to get a C- or better. Good luck with that! Why do I need two courses in Accounting just to be admitted to the program? One, maybe.
If, on the other hand, I wanted a degree from FSU in Business Management, I would need to take EIGHT management courses and have FOUR more to choose electives from.
My own degree is in History, and I had to complete NINE history courses with a C or better to earn it. I did, just barely. And there are 118 history courses at my small school (Colgate U.) to choose those nine from. Admittedly, there is a lot of history, but is it 30 times more complicated than sales?
Where are the specialized courses in sales automation, or international sales, or sales ethics? Where are the seminars with buyers, or authors, or methodology gurus?
Where is the course in the history of sales? We’ve been selling something for as long as there’s been history. Maybe we could get some perspective on how and why we sell like we do today.
What about a course on the buyer’s perspective of sales? You can sell a lot better if you understand how your customer buys.
Where are the “Semester In (fill in the blank)” opportunities designed to put you in a foreign environment and expect to absorb and study and succeed? Where are the behavioral and psychology of sales courses? All of these are standard in other majors.
Why not in sales?
We’re going to have an opposing point of view in an upcoming post from an actual professor who teaches some of the few courses available. Maybe those views will challenge mine and we’ll get a conversation going.
P.S. To be fair, FSU does offer some related courses like “The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business,” but I’m guessing sales is kind of buried in there.
Here are the other articles in this sales education series:
- Sales Education 101
- Seminole Selling
- Bachelor of Arts In Sales
- Sales Education: The Sales Course Catalog
- Sales Education: The Sales Course Catalog #2
- The Professional Salesperson’s View of a College Education