A college degree is not essential for a job in sales. To be blunt, a lot of what is taught in business school regarding sales just doesn’t prepare someone to sell in the real world anyway.
However, there are some college degrees which might indicate a greater chance of success in the sales game, and sales managers should look out for candidates with them on their resume.
Here are five degrees that suggest an individual might have a good sales aptitude.
Skilled in interpreting data, reading human behavior and predicting behavioral patterns, psychology degree holders are good fits for sales. These job candidates have a natural talent for understanding how to influence people and design pitches that trigger desirable human responses.
Psychology degree holders know how to make use of marketing and sales statistics, using numbers to predict market performance and gauge audience reception. Their ability to read verbal subtext, body language and customer motivations help when negotiating closes. All of these psychology skills add up to strong sales aptitude.
2. Communication/public relations
Much of sales involves forming an opinion in the mind of prospects through conversation, sales copy or putting forth a favorable image. Those who have earned degrees in public relations and, to some extent, communications, likely have an intuitive sense of how to speak, write and handle high pressure situations with tact and power while protecting brand reputation and using PR to raise brand awareness.
These are the folks who can easily assemble snappy, memorable and persuasive talking points when meeting with clients and push through objections and disinterest to inspire and deliver the right brand message.
Like psychology majors, sociology majors study people, but specifically in social situations. They understand social behavior, social ritual, the rhetoric and beliefs that bind social groups as well as the nuances of networking, whether at the family, friend or community level.
A degree holder with this sort of social intelligence would likely possess natural sales aptitude, particularly because contemporary buying behavior is increasingly affected by social influence. Experts credit Apple’s focus on sociology, namely how people connect and share, for propelling its brand to dominant sales.
Sociology aces would understand how to become a part of any audience’s community and appeal to that community’s values, understanding what makes people patronize, share or discuss certain companies and their wares.
Lawyers excel in contracts, negotiations, persuasive speaking and mediation– just to name a few things that would help in the world of sales.
If they have practiced influencing juries or irascible litigants, they can handle difficult clients and stubborn execs linked to high-stakes sales accounts.
5. Sales and marketing/business
The obvious degree that indicates sales aptitude would be one in sales and marketing, or a business degree that includes a sales concentration. This degree specialization suggests the degree holder possesses an understanding of consumer behavior, sales forecasting, the sales process, managing a sales territory, marketing, and product development.
It also indicates one very important thing: the prospect likes money and business, or else they would have picked another major. Furthermore, such degree holders likely had internships in actual sales departments, and have some valuable real-world experience.
Like I said, college degrees don’t teach someone to sell; the pros do. But, by keeping an open mind during hiring and recognizing the sales aptitude behind a graduate’s academic credentials, you can detect specialized talent and groom your next top salesperson. Combine this with a formal sales aptitude test, and you will likely win.