Five years ago, on a trip to Canada, I met Keith Thompson, Salesways founder and Chairman, and author of the book Sales Automation Done Right. After that meeting, I realized that my career as a professional salesperson was built based on empirical knowledge, field practice and the courses that companies I worked for offered me.
Back in Brazil, with the book in my hands, the first thing I did was to visit some universities and business schools to understand how the sales discipline was handled. Recently, talking to some teachers, I heard that “it was much easier to learn about sales in specialized external courses out there”, as mentioned by Philip Broughton, in the introduction to his book The Art of the Sale (2012, Penguin Press).
Walter Friedman, in his book Birth of a Salesman (2004, Harvard College), noted that “while business schools were still offering some type of instruction in sales management, usually in larger contexts of marketing courses, they do not offer programs aiming at sales skills.” Also according to Friedman, these current courses, as it was at the beginning of the last century, seemed more suitable to the popular “how to” or “memories of a successful salesman” books than with the objective of training professionals under the academic point of view.
At this time, talking with my friend Armando Dal Colleto, then Director of Corporate Programs and currently Dean of the São Paulo Business School, I took the challenge to study how we could include vocational training courses in sales not only in the context of MBA programs, but also in specialization programs.
Our model was built from the successful case in the Business School of the University of Connecticut, where Professor Mary Caravella adopted the method described in Keith’s book as part of the Advanced Sales Course that she taught.
So we started some experiments, first in the context of corporate programs, in which we included the sales methodology in two sales courses specific to business professionals. Both were successful and that led in 2010 to the offering of the first eight-week professional specialization sales course, where the basis is the teaching of the sales methodology proposed by Keith as a starting point to train sales managers and professionals.
The success of this first program has led to a Master in Sales program, one of the first sales training programs in Brazil, which includes a sales methodology specific subject. This same subject was included in the Sales Management course, part of the Business Management School MBA program. These courses are already in their third term and more than 200 students have been trained so far.
We can say that the challenge was great and much still remains to be done. However, we have advanced greatly and currently we can say that in our country there are already training courses where professionals can specialize in one of the most important professions in the company’s value chain: sales. And the value added by sales methodology, in our case ASPEC, is completely recognized.