john hansen 2018Hands-on experience, networking and developing interpersonal communication skills give college graduates a competitive advantage when applying for top-level jobs in sales and marketing. The Sales Education Foundation recently recognized the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business as a Top University for Professional Sales Education in its 2018 ANNUAL magazine.

“Knowing how to sell is a skill set any student can use,” said Mike Wittmann, Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics. “Employers like that students can learn and practice selling at UAB. These students tend to learn the sales process within companies faster than their peers, need less coaching and stay with their companies longer.”

UAB’s Professional Sales Certification Program is one of the top 112 programs in the United States, according to SEF. The program focuses on business-to-business sales situations, providing students with a strong knowledge of how to be effective when selling in business markets. While sales careers are known for a high turnover rate, UAB sales students tend to stay with their employers longer because of the understanding of what it takes to be successful before beginning their sales careers.

“The student knows what to expect going into the job and is less likely to leave,” said John Hansen, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Collat School of Business. “We spend time to determine which sales role is the best fit for each individual. Students who go through the program know the positive and negative aspects of going into a sales position.”

Sales careers carry an emphasis on advanced communication skills, specifically oral communication. The program offers students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of sales while practicing communication skills necessary for sales success in the business-to-business environment.

“Students kickstart their careers and are more productive for the organization in a shorter period of time,” Hansen said.

Each semester, students have the opportunity to attend networking sessions featuring industry sales leaders. The out-of-class activities required by the program allow students to meet business professionals before graduation and develop the professional communication skills needed when moving from the classroom to the boardroom.

“As an urban university, we are able to provide our students with unique opportunities within the workforce, including internships with area businesses,” Hansen said. “This gives them the opportunity to gain experience in the workforce to eventually land a career in sales.”

The new Collat School of Business building opening this fall will have state-of-the-art technology similar to that of the training and development facilities at Fortune 500 companies. Break out and role play rooms are equipped with the latest technology where classes can view role playing as it occurs, allowing students to receive instant feedback. The rooms will have recording capabilities for students to go back and review their role playing or to use as part of their resumes when applying for jobs.

Written by