Professional Selling Summit, program introduce students to opportunities in sales

More than 80 students attended the KU Professional Selling Summit hosted at Capitol Federal Hall on Oct. 20.

University of Kansas students learned about careers in sales during the second Professional Selling Summit hosted by Business Career Services and the School of Business’ Marketing and Business Law academic area at Capitol Federal Hall on Friday, Oct. 20.

The summit is part of an effort to introduce students to opportunities in professional selling. Spurred by growing demand in the sales field, the School of Business also launched a professional selling program in spring 2017.

“Through our many conversations with recruiting organizations, it quickly became obvious that we need to develop a larger and more accessible pipeline of sales talent at KU,” said Jennifer Jordan, director of Business Career Services. “Doing so will fulfill a large demand in industry and ensure competitiveness with our peers. I’m confident that students who choose to explore sales career paths will have a range of compelling employment options available to them at the completion of the program.”

Kissan Joseph, professor of marketing and the professional selling program’s director, said although some students might have a preconceived idea of salespeople as pushy, professional selling is actually about building relationships and helping address complex issues.

“Cold-calling and transactional selling are largely being replaced by solution-selling and problem-solving,” he said. “Today’s salesperson is a consultant, well-versed in both hard, analytical skills and soft, relationship skills.”

The Professional Selling Summit included a keynote panel, “Opportunities, Skill Sets and Mind Sets for a Career in Professional Selling,” which featured representatives from EJ Gallo, Eli Lilly, King’s Hawaiian, Mueller Industries and VMware, most of whom have worked in sales for more than a decade.

Later in the day, attendees participated in two workshops focused on specific aspects of the sales process: “Prospecting, Needs Discovery, and Crafting Win-Win Solutions” and “How to Handle Objections and Close the Sale.”

Joseph said he hopes the summit helped students understand sales can be a rewarding and lucrative profession with significant opportunities for growth, whether they want to continue working in sales or move ahead in another field, such as marketing.

Students can further explore professional selling with a certificate offered through the School of Business. The curriculum includes courses focused on marketing, the principle steps of the selling process and sales management. Students also participate in a variety of activities such as the Professional Selling Summit, internships, simulations and case competitions to assemble a required portfolio of experiential activities.

The program is open to all undergraduate students at KU. Learn more here.