Less than 3 percent of the more than 4,000 colleges and universities across the nation have formal sales programs. Starting this fall, UNCG is now a member of that exclusive group.
UNCG’s Bryan School of Business and Economics has launched the North Carolina Sales Institute (NCSI), an initiative aimed at developing the next generation of top sales professionals. Spearheaded by Dr. James Boles, head of the department of marketing, entrepreneurship, hospitality and tourism, and John Chapman, director of executive education and adjunct professor at the Bryan School, NCSI has five main components: undergraduate curriculum, graduate curriculum, executive education, sales research and membership-based corporate partners.
Boles and Chapman started exploring the idea in 2014 after extensive research led them to identify two core issues related to traditional sales education: students have huge misconceptions about careers in sales, and they don’t have the necessary skillset to succeed in today’s evolving sales environment. For Boles and Chapman, these issues explain why more than 60 percent of first-time sales professionals resign or are terminated.
“It can be a very rewarding field, and people don’t realize it,” Boles said. “I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘I want to go to college to study sales.’ They don’t realize the opportunity there.”
The undergraduate curriculum consists of four courses and an internship in which students are paired with industry leaders in the Triad. NCSI is open to students of all majors, providing added value that Chapman believes is essential in any career field.
“Everybody sells. If you have a high level job, you sell at some point,” Chapman said. “If you want to move up within any organization, you need these skills.”
NCSI will partner with local businesses in a variety of different industries and provide regular networking opportunities for students in the program. For corporate partners, NCSI offers executive education at a reasonable price, access to the area’s top sales and business students, and research aimed at solving key business problems, such as high turnover or low performance. The research will be tailored to the individual needs of partners, but will have broad implications for the business community as a whole.
“This is really more of a two-way partnership with companies,” Chapman said. “A lot of schools are just teaching one or two sales classes. We’re going full circle.”
Boles, who will lead the research component of NCSI, is the former editor of the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management and has published more than 60 academic journal articles and numerous other publications. He has also worked internationally, conducting sales training in the Caribbean and Middle East. Just last year, Boles was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sales Special Interest Group of the American Marketing Association.
A veteran sales professional, Chapman brings 29 years of experience in leading high-level sales efforts in both start-ups and established companies in the United States and internationally. Currently, Chapman consults in the home improvement and energy industries.
Looking ahead, Boles and Chapman are confident in the opportunities that NCSI will offer both students and corporate partners.
“The students at UNCG are willing to work. They’re willing to roll up their sleeves and solve problems,” Chapman said. “The best are going to get good jobs. We will make sure of it.”
If you’re interested in becoming part of the program or if you’d like to learn more about partnering with NCSI, visit bae.uncg.edu/ncsi.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations