The Professional Salesperson’s View of a College Education

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Written by on . Posted in College & University, Sales Education No Comments

No College Degree

Degree? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Degree.

I followed a LinkedIn discussion thread about sales education recently and I came away surprised and disappointed. The thread was in a professional sales group and the contributors were presumably all sales professionals, were presumably interested in their profession because they are active on LinkedIn, and were presumably intelligent and successful in their jobs.

The question, paraphrased, asked about what your sales education should be. Not training, mind you, but college or university education. Here are the metrics from that thread:

  • There were nineteen comments in addition to the original post and the follow-on comments made by the poster.
  • There were sixteen distinct commenters.
  • Not one of the comments suggested the need for college or university level education, although one came dangerously close.
  • Thirteen of the comments said, in varying degrees of intensity, that a college degree was a waste of time for sales professionals.

Those who saw no need for a college education all called on the school of hard knocks and street smarts as the only academic requirements. They cited sales success stories and capabilities and knowledge that could be acquired without ever setting foot on a campus, unless you were there to sell something.

I suspect that, in that narrow definition, they are right – many very successful sales people have no formal education. I don’t doubt that. There was not a single word about sales in my college education, except for textbook sales, and I was the buyer, not the seller.

But does that mean a professional sales education is not beneficial? Would all of us really be better off spending those four years out doing the job instead of building a foundation? Given the price of a college education, I’m not going to even discuss cost/benefit. For the purposes of this rant, you’ll just have to figure that scholarships, internships, and state and community colleges can mitigate that investment.

I could home school my children, and with effort and some readily available tools, do as good a job as any teacher. But would you want me teaching your kids?

I can do arithmetic and I know how to use Quickbooks, but would you want me doing your business accounting?

The point is not that I must have a college degree to do the job. The point is how much better can I do the job with a college degree.

If I’ve just pissed you off, then first, good. And second, take a look at these other articles and stop and think how much better you could be with a couple of these courses under your belt and the ability to function at an even higher level when dealing with your almost-certainly college educated decision-makers.

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