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The unavoidable role of sales in an MBA program

We’re selling almost every day of our lives - which makes sales not just a valuable skill in our careers, but a valuable skill in life itself. Here’s what an MBA can teach you about sales.

In short

What is sales?

What do you think of when you hear the word “sales”?

“The stereotype that we have of sales is these sleazy fellows who are a little bit too loud and a little bit too outgoing. That they want you to part with your money as soon as possible. But most selling – almost all selling – doesn’t look like that at all.” (00:35)

That’s according to Dr. Dimitri Kapelianis, who is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Anderson School of Management. Instead, he says selling is something we do almost every day of our lives. That’s because the principles of selling can be applied to so many real-life situations, both in and out of the workplace.

“Selling is about influencing, persuasion, and doing so ethically,” he explains. “When you’re trying to convince your colleagues to support a project you’re working on, that’s selling. When you’re trying to persuade your kids to wash the dishes, that’s selling. When you’re working on a product that you’re going to develop and bring to market, that’s selling.” (00:08)

It stands to reason, then, that sales is not just a valuable skill for your career, but for life in general. So, how can you learn to do it effectively?

Why the Anderson School of Management MBA teaches sales

The MBA program at Anderson School of Management has a dedicated sales class as part of the curriculum. While students can customize their program via a number of different electives, Dimitri believes sales is a fulcrum of business that makes it one of the school’s core courses.

“Most selling takes place in a business-to-business environment, where it’s embedded in a long-term relationship and you really do have to solve your business partner’s business problems,” he says. “So even if you don’t think you’re going to work in sales, you’re going to be selling throughout your career.” (00:52)

“To my mind, if you’re going to be doing it you may as well learn how to do it effectively and ethically. That’s what we teach in the Intro to Sales class at Anderson School of Management,” he adds. (01:10)

However, you don’t necessarily need to take a class to practice and improve your sales skills. As Dimitri touched upon, it’s something we do almost every day of our lives. Over the course of an MBA program, it’s a skill you’re going to be using a lot.

What an MBA teaches you about sales

You’re selling at every step of your MBA journey.

During the application process, you have to convince the admissions team that you’re a good fit for the program and will be a valuable addition to the school. In essence, you’re already selling yourself. And the more practice you get, the better you’ll become.

During the program, you might have a formal sales class, as is the case at Anderson School of Management. But, whether you’re putting together a case study, doing mock interviews, or making new contacts, you’re continuing to sell during the entirety of your program. You’re trying to influence or persuade people almost every day.

After you graduate, the process continues. When you’re applying for jobs, you’re selling yourself once again. When you get an interview, you’ve got to sell yourself some more. And, when you’re trying to negotiate a pay rise, those same principles will come in useful.

An MBA can benefit your career in a variety of different ways. It is perhaps the ability to persuade and influence people that could be the most valuable benefit of an MBA.

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