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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: A brilliant move by SNHU

February 01. 2014 1:15AM

THERE HAS BEEN something major missing in the higher education system in our universities.

Students studying and preparing for a career in business participate in courses to help them understand the way business works. They are taught critical business skills such as public speaking, finance and marketing.

But from what I have seen and experienced, most business programs miss the mark when it comes to giving students skills that will apply in the real world. And the biggest gap is in the most important skill they will need to succeed in a career in business. Sales.

If you're interested in a career in business, sales skills are by far the most important. If you have aspirations to move into a sales role, it's obvious you need to know how to sell. But it's more than that. Sales skills apply to almost every aspect of business, regardless of the specific career you are interested in.

You have to be able to sell yourself, you have to be able to sell your company and you have to be able to sell your ideas to others. All of these aspects of business require skills and confidence to sell effectively.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet several members of the Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) team. I met Micheline Anstey, assistant professor of marketing, School of Business; Andy Lynch, chairman and professor of marketing, School of Business; and Beth Prieto, the executive director of the Career Development Center. And what I learned in this meeting blew me away.

Micheline Anstey recently attended a conference on sales education and had the opportunity to speak with many of her peers from various universities throughout the United States. After learning about the various business programs being taught at other universities, Micheline recognized an opportunity. She brought the idea of creating a more formalized sales program to students at SNHU.

After a lot of hard work and selling within SNHU, Micheline was able to gain approval from the SNHU Curriculum Committee to launch a minor in professional sales. The professional sales minor at SNHU requires students to complete courses in professional selling, sales force management, B2B marketing and business communication, among many other related courses.

Words in my column can't express how excited I am to see this type of program being offered at SNHU.

Finally, the importance of sales education has been recognized, and students minoring in professional sales at SNHU will have a competitive advantage when they enter the work force.

"According to a recent study by the H.R. Chally Group, 82 percent of all marketing majors and 66 percent of all college of business students are headed for a sales related job," SNHU points out in the minor in professional sales program description. "The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates sales and related occupations will increase by 12.5 percent by the year 2020."

Congratulations to Micheline Anstey for bringing this idea to life and providing students with real-life skills and education that will have a positive impact on their careers and long term success.

Christopher Thompson ( writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.

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