The Sales Education Foundation has named the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to its 2019 list of top universities for professional sales education in North America.
“Sales education goes with any degree and increases your marketability significantly,” said Dr. Lenita Davis, director of the UA Little Rock Professional Sales Program. “Marketing and business students need sales skills. If you want to be an artist, you need to be able to sell your art. These skills can be used across disciplines and are useful in any career.”
Established in 2007, the Center for Professional Selling brings students, faculty, and business leaders together to create one of the few student-centered sales education programs in Arkansas. Students may complete the 12 credit-hour program as a sales concentration within the marketing major or a sales minor or certificate that is open to all students.
The program currently has 33 students while more than 20 students graduated from the sales program in May.
“Right now, we have an employment placement rate of more than 80 percent for our graduates,” Davis said. “My goal is to get our placement rate to 90 percent. We’ve got students who are working and interning for some of the top companies in the country.”
Davis gives credit to the high employability of the sales program graduates to its curriculum, networking and investment with local employers, and participation in sales competitions.
“There are a lot of opportunities for students to hone their skills, compete in professional competitions, increase their marketability with potential employers, and have a lot of fun,” Davis said. “We had one student who was offered a job with a signing bonus on the spot at a sales competition. The company wanted him that bad. This is really a game changer for a lot of students.”
In 2017, students in the sales program benefited from the addition of the State Farm Business Skills Lab, which is equipped with an interactive system allows students to record sales pitches, marketing presentations, and conduct mock interviews in a fixed environment. Panelists, professors, and corporate partners can watch live and provide students with instant feedback. The lab was established with financial assistance from area State Farm agents and a State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship grant.
The UA Little Rock Sales Program also started the Sold in 60 Seconds sales competition in 2016. Students can win cash prizes through a 60-second elevator pitch competition geared toward sales careers. Since the competition is judged by local business professionals and corporate sponsors, participating students have the opportunity to interview for internship and job openings.