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Business and AUT create NZ's first sales major

Business and AUT create New Zealand's first sales major

Vodafone, New Zealand Post, ANZ and AMP have partnered with AUT University to create New Zealand's first sales major for the Bachelor of Business degree.

The new major – available next February – will produce a wave of graduates with the mix of critical business thinking and specialist sales knowledge.

Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners, New Zealand Post General Manager Sales and Service Paul Hutchinson, ANZ General Manager Products and Marketing Greg Campbell and AMP CEO Greg Camm have worked with AUT for 15 months to create the sales major curriculum.

It offers papers in sales management, motivation and sales performance, negotiation, personal selling and other specialist sales skills. It will launch in semester one, 2007.

Russell Stanners says the new major meets a gap in the market for degree level graduates with understanding of the theories and principles of sales.

"Every single business is driven from sales," he says. "Without customers, without customer-led thinking, there is no business. It's that simple – and that was the gap. Finally, a New Zealand university has stepped up to address this crucial need."

"I am helping it to happen because I have a business to grow."

NZ Post CEO John Allen says as New Zealand shifts from relying on manufacturing to aggregation of products and services it depends on sales more than ever.

"Increased consumer choice means customers have become more discerning," he says. "The balance of power has changed and organisations need their people to create strategic advantage."

Executive recruiter Mark Porath, the initial proponent of the new major, says graduates qualified in sales will provide New Zealand employers with immediate value.

"Having graduates qualified in sales will positively affect business and organisational performance. We'll see it in tangible quality and productivity benefits," he says. "We now have the opportunity to establish sales as a profession underpinned by a tertiary qualification of the same academic stature as finance and economics. This will enhance the skill base of young New Zealanders."

ANZ Bank General Manager Products and Marketing Greg Campbell says New Zealand is moving increasingly towards the notion that world-class selling builds world-class businesses.

"More and more, this is what New Zealand needs to be about," he says. "AUT is ideally positioned to offer what is not only an exciting study choice, but has the potential to uplift the professionalism and performance of this important part of the New Zealand economy."

AMP Managing Director Greg Camm says even though sales is one of the most common activities in business today, until now it has been overlooked by academic institutions.

"AUT has a strong capability to deliver a sales major in its Bachelor of Business. A group of senior executives from industry has guided the curriculum development. I believe it will be rigorous and well supported by students and corporations," he says.

AUT's sales major degree programme is of the few offered worldwide.

Dean of Business, Professor Des Graydon says sales expertise is crucial in the competitive global environment.

"It's not enough to say 'build it and they will come', you need to sell it too. It's no longer enough for businesses to leave it to chance," he says.

"Sales leads the delivery of services and products across all sectors. The sales major will provide our graduates with a broad understanding of business and specialist knowledge in sales."

Professor Graydon says while organisations recognise sales as integral to their business they have difficulty recruiting staff with sales specific tertiary qualifications.

"The new major has been developed by industry leaders and academics who feel New Zealand needs to raise its game when it comes to sales," he says. "Our country has the innovation, but we need to compete in sales."


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