I’ve said for years that they don’t teach sales in college, yet colleges produce many professional salespeople who start their careers without any basic skills or training… and today entrepreneurship classes are booming on campuses across the country. But many people don’t go to college: it’s not a part of their career path. So the real question becomes:
Why don’t they teach sales in high school?
I’m the father of 8, and a lifelong professional salesman and entrepreneur. With a couple kids still in school, I can attest that high schools do not teach sales skills to their students.
If your career path is not sales, why should do you need sales skills? According to The Globe and Mail:
Sales skills are critical life skills that can and should be systematically taught in high school, in undergraduate programs and in higher education.
3 Reasons EVERYONE Needs Sales Skills
1. You need to sell yourself.
Whether your job is in sales or you’re an artist or you’re a high school teacher or a mechanic you will need to sell yourself throughout your life, such as:
- job interviews
- mortgage applications
2. Sales skills instill confidence.
One of the foundations of sales skills is your 30-second elevator speech: explaining who you are and what you have to offer. Many people are not born with the gift of gab and are uncomfortable speaking in unfamiliar surroundings. Your elevator speech isn’t just for sales, it’s a critical life skill that can be used:
- meeting new people at social events
- introducing yourself to your child’s teachers or friend’s parents
3. Sales skills are useful in school.
Most students have to make presentation skills in their classes, or participate in group discussions: it’s mandatory! Learning basic sales and presentation skills can help a student gain self-confidence in the classroom:
- book reports and school reports
- team projects and presentations
- awards ceremonies for sports, arts or academic accomplishments
Sales Gets Little (If Any) Respect
According to the Harvard Business Review, few college and graduate programs teach sales (this data is a bit old, but I’m guessing still fairly accurate):
of the 479 U.S. business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, only 101 have a sales curriculum, and a mere 15 offer either an MBA in sales or some sort of sales-oriented graduate curriculum. Sales may be vital to businesses, but of the 350,000 students a year who earn bachelor’s degrees in business from American universities, and the 170,000 who earn MBAs, only a tiny fraction have been taught anything about it.
While we all joke about the salesman stereotypes, the examples above demonstrate that sales skills are a life skill, not just a career choice. Sales skills can and should be taught in high school: and for those who go on to a career in sales, their career exploration and training has a jumpstart!
about Anthony Caliendo:
As a corporate sales consultant, trainer and coach, I’m also an entrepreneur and sales professional with over 20 years of successful sales and sales management experience. My expertise in sales, marketing and business development spans from small business to international companies.
I’m the best-selling author of The Sales Assassin: Master Your Black Belt in Sales, winner of the 2015 USA Book News business book award for entrepreneurs and small business, winner of the 2016 Book Excellence Award for Sales and Marketing, and a 2016 finalist in The Indie Book Awards.
I provide personal sales coaching; and consult, speak and train about growing and motivating your sales team to businesses, corporations and conferences across the nation, as well as a guest contributor and sales expert for TV and radio, and professional organizations.