Sept. 23, 2019
The University of South Carolina was recently named a 2019 Top University Sales Program for the first time by the Sales Education Foundation. The designation is largely a result of the Moore School’s Center for Sales Success, created two years ago with initial funding by forward-thinking alumni dedicated to helping students develop and differentiate their selling skills.
The Moore School’s marketing department has been ranked for many years among the top 25 internationally in the discipline’s most respected academic journals. In recent years, the school has expanded and enhanced its sales program, which falls under the marketing major.
Marketing students can choose to concentrate on sales strategy, which includes courses like personal selling, sales strategy, sales automation and customer relationship management, retailing management and sales certification.
The marketing department intends to officially offer its students three distinct marketing tracks: sales strategy, brand and product management, and research and marketing analytics, said Jeffrey Rehling, Moore School marketing clinical faculty/lecturer and director for the Center for Marketing Solutions.
He anticipates the official tracks will launch beginning in fall 2020.
Faculty and advisors “are still actively talking to the students about managing their electives toward a track so they have a good depth of knowledge within an area of the marketing major, but currently, it is still on the student to manage these choices,” Rehling said.
Considering the volume of sales jobs in the market, the Moore School sees the opportunity to further develop and invest in a stronger sales strategy program to strengthen graduate preparation and job placement.
More than 50 percent of college graduates and about 88 percent of marketing majors begin their careers in sales positions, according to the Sales Education Foundation.
Because of the proportion of students entering sales positions, the Center for Sales Success was launched in spring 2017 to help shape the Moore School’s sales curriculum and ensure it reflects the needs of corporate partners and the changing dynamics in current sales environments.
“To be a top-ranked sales program, you need a dedicated advisory board and center to support the UofSC team's efforts,” said Beth Renninger, director for the Center for Sales Success and sales lecturer. “To keep us on top of sales trends and recognize hiring needs, we now have a dedicated panel of sales professionals who are investing in the Moore School and our students. A great program comes from a combination of our internal efforts and our external partnerships. It has proven to be a win-win-win...for our students, our school and our partners.”
The Center for Sales Success facilitates internships and employment opportunities, and by participating in sales competitions, students learn to apply their skills and earn jobs with leading national companies. The center also provides a sales laboratory where students can practice the sales process and create a digital portfolio; it also offers a sales certification through a program sponsored by the National Association of Sales Professionals.
“The fastest paths to six figure incomes include sales jobs, as does the path to [chief officer positions],” Renninger said. “Many CEOs credit their sales experience with development of critical skills essential to them in every role in their career but especially as executives. For people who are interested in income-earning potential, which is directly related to their individual work and value add, sales is unmatched.”
Corporate partners like Gartner, Signature Consultants, Jear Logistics and Townsquare Interactive sponsor the Center for Sales Success to engage with students in classroom discussions, club presentations and events, and competition judging. Many companies recruit prospective employees among students they’ve met while engaging with the center. In addition, several alumni have enjoyed the opportunity to actively participate in the creation and evolution of the program alongside current students.
“The Center for Sales Success is an engagement-based model, so unique and relevant opportunities for sponsors and alumni to interact with students are always evolving,” Renninger said.
While building corporate relationships has been key, Rehling emphasized the internal efforts have really helped jumpstart the program.
“We felt that to prepare students for the start of their career, we had to up our game in the sales discipline,” he said. “Investments in new faculty, a sales lab, competition teams, new courses and a sales club have very quickly created one of the top sales programs in the country. We're very proud of it, and I think it’s a true differentiator for not only the Moore School but the University of South Carolina.”