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Pomp & Circumstance
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My current comments about this article:

Pomp And Circumstantial Reality

 

In no time, "Pomp and Circumstance" will be played throughout the nation as colleges send forth yet another graduating class into the business world. As they watch their sibling be graduated, mothers and fathers alike will dry a tear... perhaps out of pride; perhaps out of joy that the hammerhead made it through; or perhaps out of knowing the number of years left on the second mortgage that financed the education. Whatever, their cutting question always remains:

How well did the education prepare their student for entering the work force (perhaps even to pay off the student loans).

Rather than generalize on "Academics versus Business," I'd like to focus on a survey presented in the August 17, 1981 issue of S&MM by Professor Eugene M. Johnson. The articles purpose was to highlight the

of what sales managers thought should be taught in an introductory sales course from what college professors actually taught in such a sales course. Each group was to rank the following topics in order of priority:

Course Topics to be Prioritized Sales Profs

Rank Rank

ssan sk

CLOSING TECHNIQUES [ 7 ] [ 4 ]

 

PROSPECTING [11 ] [ 8 ]

 

SELF-MOTIVATION [ 2 ] [10 ]

 

SALES TRAINING [12 ] [12 ]

 

HANDLING OBJECTIONS [ 5 ] [ 2 ]

 

ROUTE AND TERRITORY MANAGEMENT [10 ] [14 ]

TIME MANAGEMENT [ 1 ] [ 9 ]

 

APPROACH [15 ] [ 7 ]

REWARDS OF SELLING [16 ] [16 ]

 

COMMUNICATIONS [ 3 ] [ 6 ]

UNDERSTANDING BUYER BEHAVIOR [ 8 ] [ 1 ]

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN SELLING [13 ] [13 ]

PROFESSIONALISM IN SELLING [ 6 ] [11 ]

PLANNING SALES CALLS [ 4 ] [ 5 ]

SALES PRESENTATIONS AND DEMOS [ 9 ] [ 3 ]

ENVIRONMENT OF SELLING [14 ] [15 ]

I can't tell who those sales managers or college professors are (from the article it is known that there were 331 from sales management and 207 from professors)...BUT AS YOU WILL DETERMINE, I CAN STATE CATERGORICALLY THAT I AM GLAD THAT NO RELATIVE OF MINE HAS EVER BEEN SO INSTRUCTED.

O.

What about the Student?

At first blush, it would be easy to attribute the difference to the circumstantial reality of having to make quota.  But check the manner in which both prioritized the following!Course Topics to be Prioritized Sales Profs

Rank Rank

 

SELF-MOTIVATION [ 2 ] [10 ]

PROFESSIONALISM IN SELLING [ 6 ] [11 ]

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN SELLING [13 ] [13 ]

ENVIRONMENT OF SELLING [14 ] [15 ]

REWARDS OF SELLING [16 ] [16 ]

 

Contrary to Professor Johnson's remark that often sales management and college professors differ greatly, it's pretty obvious that both groups are similarly oblivious to the importance of career counselling which should assist the student in chosing anINITIAL career.  Both show parallel descending concerns for the topics that pertain tothe salesperson, per se.

Perhaps I'm missing the boat, but for $22,000 at a State school, or $60,000 at a private, I think that it would be nice if someone helped a student understand their own behavior with respect to a career choice.  And if they didn't, it would be nice to think that some sales managers would help to.

And now, reconcile the above with this answer...

Course Topics to be Prioritized Sales Profs

Rank Rank

sk

UNDERSTANDING BUYER BEHAVIOR [ 8 ] [ 1 ]

Can you imagine. Professors found N-I-N-E topics more important to cover between "UNDERSTANDING BUYER BEHAVIOR" than those pertaining (at least obliquely) to the salesperson.  And sales management shows its true General Pattonesque colors by finding S-E-V-E-N topics after "PROFESSIONALISM IN SELLING." Can't you here the B.S. now. "Lad, or Lass, to succeed in this business you need to be self-motivated. It's a great profession if you are".

To which my answer is, "And so is being a cancer researcher,

a minister and an astronaut... so, what do you think...

which should I be?" Is it any wonder why there is such

turnover in the sales ranks?

 

And when I ask the question, "Well, what distinguishes a prospective salesperson from say a cancer researcher?"  I am begging to show you another common blindness of salesmanagement and professors as they answered the survey...

Topics to be Stressed in Course Sales Profs MY Your

Rank Rank TURN Turn

. n

PROSPECTING [11 ] [ 8 ]

 

Neither one considers prospecting to be that important.  And holy smokes, look at sales managements' ranking of E-L-E-V-E-N!  It's a wonder how they go about filling theirsales openings #@*!  

And to the designer of this questionnaire, I will be kind by assuming that either they meant to have qualifying included with prospecting, i.e. "PROSPECTING & QUALIFYING" or the printer's dog ate the galley proof after approval.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, destroys "TIME MANAGEMENT", "TERRITORYMANAGEMENT", "SELF MOTIVATION", "THE REWARDS OF SELLING", and"PROFESSIONALISM IN SELLING" more than a poorly qualified prospect. And the same also distorts "UNDERSTANDING BUYER BEHAVIOR", "HANDLING OBJECTIONS", "COMMUNICATIONS", "PLANNINGTHE SALES CALL", AND THE "SELLING ENVIRONMENT".

Under either condition, the lack of attention to prospecting/qualifying provides a serious clue to the lack of cause and effect thinking that is needed to make a sales course "hangtogether."  The discouragements of selling are lore. And it is important to explain to sales students that "coming up dry" is a function of where one decides to drill... not theprocess of drilling itself. Without prospects the other topics on the list have little relevance.

My Course 101

 No. I wouldn't start with "TIME MANAGEMENT" or "UNDERSTANDINGBUYER BEHAVIOR". Given the topics, as listed, I would first focus on the individual student with respect to the CAREER OPPORTUNITIES.  To do so, it would be necessary to spend considerable time discussing the ENVIRONMENTS (note the plural -- there are thousands).

Then I would discuss the REWARDS OF SELLING and the concomitant PROFESSIONALISM of which none could occur without a high degree of SELF-MOTIVATION which I believe is greatly determined by a person finding the right SELLING ENVIRONMENT.

It's quite amazing how what are perceived to be subtle environmental changes are so blatant when explained or experienced.  I for one get no kick out of selling computer hardware. In fact, I feel like a car salesman inspite of its high tech glamour. Yet for me, software presents a whole different experience. And friends of mine are just the opposite.

So, here's how I'd teach the course, because ultimately, I want a salesperson who is primarily happy to be one... rather than one who knows how to manage time or "groove" with the prospect.  Given that they are content, the rest of the topics are duck soup to cover and are perfected through internalization and practice.

The priorities are based on a rationale that the first five topics would address the student's understanding of the selling function. The next topics would pertain to thegeneral body of knowledge concerning interpersonal skills. And finally, the actual selling skills themselves.

Course Topics to be Prioritized Sales Profs MY Your

 

CLOSING TECHNIQUES [ 7 ] [ 4 ] [15 ] [ ]

PROSPECTING [11 ] [ 8 ] [ 7 ] [ ]

SELF-MOTIVATION [ 2 ] [10 ] [ 5 ] [ ]

SALES TRAINING [12 ] [12 ] [16 ] [ ]

HANDLING OBJECTIONS [ 5 ] [ 2 ] [ 9 ] [ ]

ROUTE AND TERRITORY MANAGEMENT [10 ] [14 ] [10 ] [ ]

TIME MANAGEMENT [ 1 ] [ 9 ] [11 ] [ ]

APPROACH [15 ] [ 7 ] [13 ] [ ]

REWARDS OF SELLING [16 ] [16 ] [ 3 ] [ ]

COMMUNICATIONS [ 3 ] [ 6 ] [ 6 ] [ ]

UNDERSTANDING BUYER BEHAVIOR [ 8 ] [ 1 ] [ 8 ] [ ]

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN SELLING [13 ] [13 ] [ 1 ] [ ]

PROFESSIONALISM IN SELLING [ 6 ] [11 ] [ 4 ] [ ]

PLANNING SALES CALLS [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [12 ] [ ]

SALES PRESENTATIONS AND DEMOS [ 9 ] [ 3 ] [14 ] [ ]

ENVIRONMENT OF SELLING [14 ] [15 ] [ 2 ] [ ]

 

And now it's your turn because next month these students will be knocking on your door looking for a sales position.  It's a good time to reflect whether you want time-keepers,"groovers" or rookies that are well centered in their role.

 

Were this a college course, having covered this material (which would include preference testing), I would now be looking for "drops" from the course.  (Unfortunately theregistration system would work against such a resultant pure classroom environment since it would take weeks to cover the above, and the "dropping" student would have no way to "add" another course for credit.)  The remaining students wouldhave receptive minds with which to receive the remaining information.

And were I sales manager interviewing a student of such a course, I would still invest a great deal of time in discussing the prospective selling environment with the job candidate.

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