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K-State Today

July 20, 2012

The real deal: University on list of top schools for professional sales education

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

When it comes to top universities for getting a professional sales education, the Sales Education Foundation is sold on Kansas State University.

For the first time, the foundation has named the university to its list of top universities for professional sales education. Kansas State University is the only school from Kansas on the 2012 list. The foundation promotes the profession of sales and its role as the driving force to the economy. Schools on the list offer foundation-approved programs in professional sales and are included in the 2012 Sales Education Foundation Annual.

K-State's College of Business Administration has offered a professional sales program, through the department of marketing, since 2010. Led by Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, director of the college's National Strategic Selling Institute and the J.J. Vanier distinguished chair in relational selling and marketing, the sales program has a growing enrollment of more than 150 students.

"The College of Business Administration invested in our program, establishing state-of-the-art sales labs that help us train for competitions. And the college also allows us to prepare all of our students in our sales classes the same way Fortune 500 companies train their sales forces," Deeter-Schmelz said. "The marketing department faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive and helpful. They believe in this program, and we could not have achieved this success without their support and help for such things as curriculum, website design, sales team coaching and event planning."

Deeter-Schmelz says K-State students are a strength of the program.

"K-State has exceptional students and that stands out when we travel," she said. "We took students to the National Collegiate Sales Competition at Kennesaw State University last year, our first year, as well as a regional competition, the Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire, and that helped put us on the map."

At nationals, a K-State team member placed 20th out of 126 students and the K-State team placed 22nd out of 64 schools. Deeter-Schmelz said it was an excellent result for the team's first year. 

The program's curriculum and educational opportunities are growing along with its enrollment. 

Joining the initial sales course Professional Selling will be new courses this fall, Sales Management and Advanced Selling. The program now has an advisory board of sales professionals to help with curriculum development, strategic development and mentoring of students. In addition, a student-to-student mentoring program has been launched through a grant from the university's Student-Centered Tuition Enhancement program. As mentors, experienced sales students prepare and provide advice to inexperienced students on their sales role plays.

K-State also now offers two sales competitions and K-State Sales Week, all annual events. The Edwards Jones Sales Competition is offered in the fall and is open to any K-State undergraduate student. The four winners of the event and two alternates make up the university's team for the National Collegiate Sales Competition and receive a scholarship from Edward Jones.

The Victaulic Sales Invitational is offered in the spring during K-State Sales Week. The competition is open to any K-State student as well as students from other universities in the region. Other events during K-State Sales Week include keynote speakers, workshops and networking events.

"New this fall will be the student sales organization, Pi Sigma Epsilon, which focuses on developing sales skills and offers a variety of sales competitions on a regional and national basis," Deeter-Schmelz said. "We will be taking more students to sales competitions, which also offer career fairs and are a great way for students to find jobs and internships. Finally, we are developing a certificate program in sales so that any K-State student, regardless of major, can earn a certificate in professional selling."

Deeter-Schmelz said sales is a career that can blend with just about any major.

"Even if a student does not go into sales, taking a sales class or getting a certificate in sales is incredibly helpful," she said. "All business is sales. Everyone will need to sell himself or herself when attempting to gain employment, get a raise, sell a boss on an idea, etc. Beyond that, many job opportunities exist in the area of sales. Salespeople are needed across industries: from engineering to agriculture to media to manufacturing to construction to computer software to services -- the list goes on and on. A student could go into sales in his or her industry of choice.

"Today's salesperson is a true professional; he or she is an honest, trusted adviser who works with his or her clients to create value," Deeter-Schmelz said.

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