By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–The professional sales program at IU Southeast has earned a spot among the top programs for professional sales in the nation from the Sales Education Foundation (SEF).
In the annual review of university sales programs, IU Southeast joins the Kelley School (IU Bloomington) in representing IU.
SEF supports university-level sales education programs by providing educational opportunities, research grant funding, worldwide exposure and scholarships. Through the publication of its annual magazine and the Top Universities listing, SEF helps raise public awareness about the benefits of sales careers and provides data on sales programs worldwide, according to the organization’s website.
IU Southeast offers several options for students to learn the art of selling, including a minor in professional selling as well as a concentration and post-bac certificate in professional selling and sales management. Courses ranging from buyer behavior and persuasion to ethics and negotiation give students a deep-dive into the methodologies that underlie successful selling strategies.
Students benefit from the Judge Carlton and Sue Sanders Professional Sales Center, which houses the Sanders Sales Lab. This unique multi-room facility, one of roughly 100 in the country, allows students to engage in multiple, simultaneous role plays, while the technology allows instructors to evaluate students’ skills and embed their feedback within the recorded role play video, accelerating and improving the learning process. Students can access their videos, including instructor feedback, from any internet-connected device.
The lab allows IU Southeast to deliver an innovative holistic approach to selling that transcends straightforward coursework.
“One of the things that makes our program unique is that in addition to traditional courses in consultative selling and sales management, our program includes a course on negotiation,” said Dr. Christopher Cox, associate professor of marketing. “The skills we develop in that course help students focus on things like message framing and investigative skills, both of which are critical in consultative selling, as well as the internal negotiation within the firm to marshal resources and support for one’s customers.”
Students from across the disciplines are welcome to use the Sanders Sales Center as a resource in their quest to better market their skills, be they scientific, artistic or educational in nature.
That dedication to facilitating career success, not merely good grades, is what drives the sales programs at IU Southeast. With several graduates of the program now employed by GE Appliance, ADP and other local firms, there is ample evidence that students are well prepared for the world that awaits them, and are being embraced by top companies.
Cox is proud of the students that have completed the program and secured a position.
“That these companies continue to look to IU Southeast for talent speaks highly of the graduates they’ve hired,” Cox said.
Another point of pride is the role of the Sanders Professional Sales Center in promoting professional selling as a career, with possibilities for personal growth and professional development as well as advancement.
“There are some careers where that first rung on the ladder of success is a pretty big leap, and may seem out of reach,” Cox said. “But in professional selling, if you come to the table with a foundational set of professional selling skills–which our program helps you develop–and a desire to listen, learn and work hard, then you can get on that ladder, and it may very well lead all the way to the top.”
For Dr. David Eplion, dean of the School of Business, the future is bright, in large part because the local demand has been so strong.
“Local employers have told us that it is very hard to find enough well-qualified professional sales representatives for their firms,” Eplion said. “We can assure them that the students graduating from our program are ready to hit the ground running and will be able to make meaningful contributions quickly in their organizations.”
Eplion and Cox are brainstorming new ways to expand the usefulness of the Sanders Sales Center, including special events for students and training sessions for local businesses.
“Our sales program’s growth has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations,” Eplion said. “We plan to build on this success by continuing to recruit top notch students thereby allowing us to provide outstanding sales employees for the corporations in our region.”