Skip to main content

ISU makes 2015 Top Universities for Professional Sales Education list

2014-2015 Sales Scholars

2014-2015 Professional Sale Scholars: Mike Devito (left), Erica Maurer, Kyran Cahill, Kelsey Birch, Sean Donlan, Jack Kurcab, Courtney LaMar, Demi Miller, Kevin Leadley, and Nate Wille

Illinois State University has been recognized by the Sales Education Foundation (SEF) as a “Top University for Professional Sales Education” program.

This year, there are 105 universities on the list, out of roughly 9,000 universities in the world. These university programs are recognized after meeting criteria useful in preparing students for careers in professional selling and in helping to elevate the sales profession. SEF will release the 2015 ANNUAL, featuring this highly anticipated listing, in the coming days.

SEF is an organization that provides education programming and materials to university sales programs and their students. SEF promotes these programs through its ANNUAL, a magazine that includes a widely recognized list of top universities for professional sales education, and is in its ninth edition of publication.

Research shows that approximately 50 percent of all graduates of a college of business will enter the workforce in a sales-oriented role as their entry-level post-graduate employment endeavors.

Being SEF recognized is not only beneficial to employers, but students as well. Students who are graduates of sales programs report career satisfaction at over 77 percent, with an average of 2.8 job offers before graduation. Prospective employees have gained valuable sales specific exposure and perspective, learning that building relationships are key, a success from which comes communication and persistence. Training is easier as they are already seasoned in the process, and therefore ramp up in productivity faster, making the new-hire turnover rate 50 percent less. Employers view this experience as increasing the internal learning curve potential and are therefore able to reach goals much more quickly.

According to Mike Boehm, executive director of the College of Business Professional Sales Institute at Illinois State University, sales is a teachable process. Our sales program is founded on the philosophy of consultative selling where the role of the salesperson is to understand customer needs, provide insight about customer’s situation or opportunity, and then offer a customized solution to address the customer’s needs/opportunities in a way that maximizes value to both the buying and selling firms.

Illinois State is part of an alliance of 21 schools collaborating to build a successful sales curriculum. This alliance began with about seven professors. Students enrolled in the program have the opportunity to choose from seven dedicated sales courses, all taught by professors rather than graduate assistants. The program is ever-growing with more entering freshmen declaring sales as their plan of study each year.

The program produces top performers, of whom many have gone on to work at prestigious firms such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Northwestern Mutual, IBM, Whirlpool, Fastenal, or The Sherwin Williams Co., where they receive on the job training to further strengthen their skills. Graduates from Illinois State’s sales program will often have multiple job offers prior to graduation, as they are on a career path that can take them anywhere in the world.