Parkite teaches the art of the sale to University of Utah students
When Shari Levitin began giving keynote speeches about sales to budding entrepreneurs at the University of Utah, students would approach her, all saying the same thing: We need a full course on the subject.
Levitin, a Park City resident and founder of Levitin Group, which offers sales training to companies and individuals, was happy to oblige. She began teaching the university’s first sales course this spring, eager to divulge the tools of the trade to a young workforce that desperately needs them.
Studies have shown, she said, that 46 percent of college graduates, regardless of their majors, end up in sales in some form. That means learning sales skills is vital.
"A lot of what was happening was you’d have people in the school of entrepreneurship that were going to pitch a product to a venture capitalist, but there’s no training on how to do that," she said. "Everything from people wanting to be CEOs and entrepreneurs needing to know how to pitch and network, to the guy who wants to start a law firm and needs to attract clients — he knows how to be a lawyer, but he doesn’t know how to attract clients. It’s all sales."
The course is even more important, Levitin said, because the current generation of college students and recent graduates — whose peers will make up half the workforce by 2020 — have been taught that "’sales’ is a really dirty word." One of her aims in the course is to show them that you can help others through sales.
"They still see sales as the old used car salesman," she said. "But we’re bridging that gap. We’re showing millennials that this is not only a noble profession, it’s one in which you can have an amazing lifestyle where you actually give to people and help people, not bamboozle them.
"Long gone are the days of a salesperson making all types of promises," she added. "To make it in sales today, you have to have a lot of integrity, you have to go above and beyond what you say you’re going to do."
Levitin describes herself as a people person and cites that as the reason sales became a passion decades ago. Forming relationships with a diverse group of students, and watching them build networks with one another, has been a highlight of the semester. She said she’s learned as much from her students as they have from her.
"I love it," she said. "I think what’s so great about it is it’s so different. Usually, I go into a company, like a real estate company or a software company, and I’ll be training and everyone is from the same company and culture. In this class, we’ve got everyone from a CEO, who’s doing a startup and came in the first day and said, ‘I hate sales people, but I need to learn how to hire them and deal with them,’ to somebody who’s in charge of HR, to guys selling copiers for Les Olson. I mean, you’ve got everything. It’s just been amazing."
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