Vlerick on a mission to professionalise sales
From baby steps to giant leaps
Sales still has a bad reputation, which it doesn’t deserve. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a salesman. But it’s time to professionalise sales education.” Vlerick professor Deva Rangarajan is the architect of the Sales Excellence Centre, one of Europe’s first academic research centres dedicated to the science of sales. Via various initiatives in close collaboration with the sales industry Vlerick is working ever more towards putting sales education on the map in Europe and Belgium. A state of play.
“We’re trying to incorporate sales into our curriculum and have created the Sales Club, an online community and blog on sales. Along with more than 20 sponsor companies we want to bring cutting-edge and real-life sales challenges to our students and give them the opportunity to learn from industry experts. Throughout the academic year the club invites guest speakers from different companies and industries,” says Deva. Since the Sales Club is such a success this year extra speaker sessions have been planned and the sessions are now also open to students from UGent and Hogeschool Gent. A clear choice according to Deva: “Together with other schools Vlerick wants to target young people who could become the sales people of the future. There is not enough sales education at university level. The Sales Club is a first step in that direction.”
Vlerick Sales Competition
“To help students develop and improve their practical sales skills, we organise an annual role-play competition. It teaches them how to successfully overcome the potential challenges and close a sale,” explains Deva. Companies involved in the Sales Club can contributing by either acting as buyers or as jury members and judges at various levels of the competition. The market interest is substantial with an increase from one company during the first edition, up to nine last year and 22 for this year’s competition. The competition which takes place outside of the regular curriculum is open to all Vlerick Masters and MBA students with an ever growing number of participants each year. The numbers 1 and 2 will be representing Vlerick at the National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) in the US, one of the largest sales role play competitions worldwide which is aimed at university students. The runners-up will represent Vlerick at the new European Sales competition in Poland.
NEW: sales boot camps for Masters
“These boot camps are essentially giving our Masters students deep knowledge of sales, especially sales force management which is situated at team level, rather than individual selling,” explains Deva. “Companies share insights from the industry and make cutting-edge sales knowledge available for students.” Next year the boot camps will be part of the course curriculum for MBA students as well.