The Race for Talent is On! Salespeople Need These Three Things to Compete and Succeed, Expert Says

  • ProSales Students
    Students in Baylor's professional sales program participate in a situational sales exercise as part of their training. (Baylor Photography)
  • Andrea Dixon
    Andrea Dixon, Ph.D. (Baylor Photography)
Oct. 8, 2014

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 8, 2014) – Companies will lose 40 percent of senior talent by 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

For the sales industry, that translates to businesses scrambling to replace retiring Baby Boomers who have decades of experience in cultivating profitable client relationships. And in today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, companies often do not have the luxury of time to train incoming salespeople.

“There is a race for qualified talent in the marketplace,” said Andrea Dixon, Ph.D., executive director of Baylor University’s Center for Professional Selling and the Keller Center for Research, both housed in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

Dixon, who was honored with the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Marketing Association Sales SIG, said three skills are needed for professionals to compete and succeed in sales today:

  • Strong business knowledge, with a clear understanding of complex business relationships
  • Ability to listen intently
  • Ability to challenge and add value to the thinking of buyers at all levels of an organization

These skills aren’t inherent, Dixon said. Proper training is key.

As an example, Dixon said the students in Baylor’s Center for Professional Selling do not prepare for entry-level jobs. They prepare to step into professional positions vacated by senior account managers at Fortune 500 companies.

“The misconception is that salespeople push products. Those are not good salespeople,” Dixon said. “Good salespeople do their homework – their research – and they use productive questioning to help the buyer clarify the business issues.”

Baylor's Center for Professional Selling was the first sales center in the country and has been recognized annually as a top sales program. The Center engages in educational, developmental and research functions – all focused on promoting excellence in the fields of professional selling and sales management.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit and follow on Twitter at

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