New Eight-Week Program Fills a Gap in the City’s Tech Scene
Houston has added startup incubation spaces, boosted the availability of investment funding for new companies and promoted itself as an up-and-coming tech hub. But a key element has been missing – a sales force specially trained to promote tech companies and their products.
The Sales Academy launched last week at the University of Houston, aimed at preparing early and mid-career professionals to work in the technology industry. The eight-week certificate program is part of the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute in the C. T. Bauer College of Business.
The class operates on a deferred-payment model, with the $5,000 fee due only if students have received a job offer for at least $50,000 after the program’s conclusion. Salespeople in the industry can earn six figures.
A second cohort will begin in March. More information is available on the website.
Key participants in development of the program include Patrick Schneidau, CEO of Truss and chair of the Houston Exponential Talent Committee, and TOPO, a sales research and advisory firm that opened doors in Silicon Valley to validate the program concept. “Thanks to Patrick and the team at TOPO, we know this program is what the tech industry needs,” said Ed Blair, chairman of the Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at UH, which oversees sales programs.
Insperity, a Houston-based human resources and administrative services company, provided seed funding.
John Pingel, professor of practice at Bauer and director of the Sales Academy, and colleagues including Blair and Randy Webb, director of the Stagner Sales Excellence Institute, worked with Houston civic and business leaders to determine why the city had fallen behind in the push to create a bustling tech ecosystem. “What kept coming up was access to talent,” Pingel said, including a trained tech sales force.
Students will learn what Pingel calls “the science and art of selling” before the class culminates in a real-world project, generating qualified leads for a real company using the same processes a sales development representative would use. They also will have several opportunities to meet with people from local startups and scaling tech companies.
“Houston was trying to solve a problem,” Pingel said of the collaborative effort that led to the program. “The expedient way to do that was through growing our talent pool.”
This story was originally published on UH News Room.
By Jeannie Kever