SCOTLAND’S first ever university sales division was launched today (Thurs) in a bid to plug the country’s “sales skills gap” and boost the economy.
The move, by Edinburgh Napier University, has received wide backing from the business community, including the Institute of Director sin Scotland and The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.
Tony Douglas, Director of the new Sales Division of the University’s Edinburgh Institute – said: “It is widely recognised in the Scottish business community that the sales skills required to meet today’s business challenges are lacking in this country. In contrast, American business schools have been leading the way in this field for the last 10 years.
“We need to banish the reputation of dodgy salesmen and recognise the essential role sales skills play in making a business profitable.”
Derrick McCourt, Regional Director, Scotland & Wales at Microsoft Corporation has been working closely with the University to help deliver accredited sales training for Microsoft’s business partners.
He said: “Sales is a profession and should be taken seriously. In the very short period of time we’ve been working with the University we’ve already had some great individual success stories from our partners.
“Our hope is that this new sales division of the Institute will expand the talent pool for sales training in Scotland but also bring Scotland onto a broader stage.”
The University is working with Sandler Sales Training Scotland and The Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales in the United States to take selling up the Scottish business agenda and deliver consultancy services to Scottish SMEs.
Mike Rutterford, co-founder of Archangel Investments, is among a number of high profile business figures who have backed the Sales Division launch.
He said: “Scotlandis great at inventing things but lousy at selling them and until now there’s been no mechanism to address that professionally.
“The lifeblood of any successful business is sales, but people are scared to use the word and think it’s a bit grubby. But at the end of the day everything we consume other than the air we breathe is directly being sold to us.”
Edinburgh Napier students as well as the business community are set to benefit from the move, with those studying a business-related course able to gain academic credits in sales as part of their degree.
David Watt, Executive Director for the Institute of Directors in Scotland added: “The Sales Division is highly welcome. There is little doubt that in recent years, selling is one of the skills that has been under significant scrutiny in the Scottish business arena.
“With the addition of the competitiveness within global markets, it is all the more important that Scottish businesses benefit from education programmes to help close the country’s sales skill gap.”