The University of Tampa is taking a novel approach to preparing students, even those in non-business fields, for careers in sales.
“We're trying to make sure our students know that sales is actually a lucrative career and it's a professional career." Stacey Schetzsle, director of the University of Tampa's new sales institute.
The university’s Sykes College of Business will be home to a new academic initiative dubbed the Institute for Sales Excellence. It will offer a curriculum focused on methodologies and techniques that will prepare students for careers in professional, business-to-business sales.
The institute will begin offering courses, which are open to students in any major program of study, June 1. UT says the institute will also serve local businesses as a staffing resource by facilitating connections between students and potential employers.
Stacey Schetzsle, associate professor of marketing at UT and director of the institute, says the curriculum will be more practical than theoretical. “I don’t think you can learn sales from a textbook,” she tells Coffee Talk.
Schetzsle would know. In addition to her academic background, which includes stops at Purdue University and Ball State University, both in Indiana, she has worked in sales management in Atlanta; owned her own business; and been a featured speaker at events like the Sales Leadership Summit in Dallas.
“What we’re seeing is that most entry-level jobs [for college graduates] are in sales positions, but many business schools do not have sales programs so they’re not really setting their students up for success,” Schetzsle says, adding that the institute will be staffed by two full-time faculty members, including herself. There are also plans to add more.
Research by the Sales Education Foundation and University Sales Center Alliance supports Schetzsle’s assertions and the institute’s raison d'être. Marketing majors, in particular, stand to benefit from the Institute for Sales Excellence: 88% of them will land a job in sales right out of college, the research shows. Skilled salespeople can also do well financially early on in their careers, with the average starting salary for a technical sales representative exceeding $60,000.
“We're trying to make sure our students know that sales is actually a lucrative career and it's a professional career,” Schetzsle says. “It's not just something you do when you can't get another job. It’s a springboard to success — if you want a job, you have to sell yourself first.”