The Case For Why MBAs Should Take Roles in Sales

Folks with MBA degrees generally don’t aspire to taking jobs involving sales.

Sale word.

Instead most MBA grads go into consulting, finance, management or strategy.

It’s shame more MBAs aren’t attracted to sales and sales management roles. Sales are the lifeblood of any company. You can have the top notch product or service, but if you can’t sell it, you’re doomed. Sales drive revenue, scalability and that other four letter word that dominates the start up world – E X I T.

Why is this?

Sales isn’t sexy. Let’s face it.

Sales doesn’t have the same appeal as something like, say, management consulting.

I think MBA grads have an underlying sense of entitlement and an unspoken understanding of where their career path is heading before they even set foot inside a business school. These paths are usually far removed from ever having to think about selling a product or service themselves.

I also think many MBAs view sales and sales management roles as being beneath them. Sales is best done by those less qualified; it’s a common job and those with minimal education and training can do it.

Business schools generally don’t teach in streams or disciplines relating to sales management. Because of this, and despite having been through one of the best business schools in Australia, I find myself more than slightly under-prepared for my current role in sales and marketing management for a health tech company.

The marketing side of my role is relatively fine. I have enough of a solid background in marketing theory and exposure to feel somewhat adequate in this space. But the sales side? Different story. Deer in headlights is the phrase that comes to mind – both knowledge and execution wise.

I never appreciated sales as a business discipline in its own right, until recently. Sales is so much more than a good pitch or a forgettable box in a marketing flowchart. I have had to upskill quickly to fully understand sales forecasting, pipelines, strategic selling and other best practices in sales management.

Why did I take a sales role?

The better question is – why not?

I’m at the point where I care more about the company I work for, it’s vision and the persons generating the culture at the top than what I do for actual work these days. Sure there needs to be some alignment with my background, natural skills and experience and this attitude is a new one for me. It’s a by-product of coming off an extended and wonderful period that had me far removed from corporate life in favor of extended travel and furthering my dance training.

I get much more personal satisfaction from contributing to a vision and to a product that has the potential to improve healthcare access and outcomes and to make a difference in people’s lives. To be in a position to drive strategy and contribute to creating a corporate culture – these are the things that have me jump out of of bed every morning.

I also know this – when you’re the CEO of a company, one thing that’s critical to your success is your ability to sell the product or service your company provides.

If a CEO can’t get out there and sell their product or service, they won’t be effective and they won’t last long. And so to all those MBAs out there who aspire to become CEOs one day, it is worth keeping this in mind – why not get solid sales exposure now rather than face your own version of deer in headlights when it’s your turn to hit the top?



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