Bringing College Students Up to Speed on the “Real World” of Sales

SDSU Mktg Class Apr 9 2014It is always enjoyable to come back to be a guest lecturer at San Diego State University, my alma mater, and spend time in the classroom with students. The perspective is enlightening, as it doesn’t seem that it was that long ago when I was a graduating senior. It was.

Yesterday was no exception. I spent a couple of hours with Scott Manning’s Business Marketing class on the SDSU campus. The students in the theater-style classroom were full of interest and questions as we discussed the profession of Selling. This class is one of the Sales Specialty classes offered at SDSU, through the Marketing Department, in the College of Business.

For the students in attendance who are pursuing a sales career upon graduation, I shared insights into changing buyer behavior and how, as sellers, to stay aligned with buyers. The primary message delivered is that sellers must be prepared to have relevant conversations with prospective customers on how their product or service can help to increase revenue, decrease cost, or reduce risk.  I demonstrated through the use of a story and a solution sales approach, how my prospective customers, sales organizations, benefit from a customized sales process program, designed and implemented to drive revenue.

The students’ approach was refreshing, without the baggage we often find with seasoned sales reps in the field.  We poked fun at stereotypical bad selling behavior and how old-style selling has died a lonely death, as we discussed current topics of “cold calling” and social selling.  We shared, that over time, good-selling behavior is important when encountering a new opportunity because of the impact of that beginning in later stages of the sales cycle, specifically the negotiation and close.  Something that has not changed is the importance of having a keen focus on the customer and thoroughly understanding what is important to them as we progress through their buying process.

It was the sixth or seventh time back on campus for me, to speak with a class.  While the buildings have been upgraded, and the students keep appearing younger, it felt like home again.