New chapter opens in sales success story

World-renowned expert given Business School role

Date posted

30 August 2016


SCOTLAND’S first university sales division has strengthened its expertise in the area with a series of new initiatives and an academic star signing.

Edinburgh Napier University now offers two degree programmes with a sales element and an advisory group drawn from industry helps develop the teaching agenda. 

The Business School has also joined forces with universities in Finland, Austria and Germany to research the coaching of sales professionals, and the university will host the 3rd European Sales Competition – aimed at filling the gap in sales education among students - in June 2017.

Tony Douglas, Associate Professor - Strategy and Sales, delivers masterclasses for sales professionals, and an academic alliance has been forged with Norwich Business School in collaboration with the Retail Analytics Council to study UK retail sales.

Now the university can also announce that it has added world-renowned sales expert Neil Rackham to its academic staff as a Visiting Professor in Strategic Selling.

The appointment of Professor Rackham - who pioneered ‘consultative selling’ and has been a consultant to executives at more than 40 of the US Fortune 500 companies - will be marked by two events at Edinburgh Napier’s Business School on September 15 in which he shares the secrets of sales success.

The Visiting Professor will first of all lead a masterclass on difficult sales issues before speaking to an evening audience on the concept of SPIN selling.

Professor Tony Douglas, who is Director of the Sales Division at the University’s Edinburgh Institute, said: “The sales function is massively important to any business, and Professor Rackham will bring gravitas to the sales agenda and activities we have put in place here at Edinburgh Napier Business School. 

“Neil is highly respected across the sales and marketing disciplines, and speaks with authority on trends affecting the sales profession. We are delighted to have him.”

Professor Rackham, who is now based in the USA and has worked with bosses at companies including IBM, Xerox, Microsoft and KPMG, said: “Edinburgh Napier works closely with the Scottish business community and my ancestry is Scottish, so this invitation sounded like a wonderful opportunity to do something that could have a positive economic impact for Scotland. I am looking forward to getting started.”

Scotland’s first ever university sales division was launched at Edinburgh Napier in 2011, with wide backing from the business community, to plug the “sales skills gap” and boost the economy. 

The University’s Craiglockhart-based Business School now offers two degree programmes with ‘sales’ in the title on-campus, online and in Hong Kong; MSc Business Management with Sales and MSc Marketing with Sales Management, and two postgraduate degree courses; ‘International Sales Management’ and ‘Professional Selling and Sales Strategies’. 

Forty-two undergraduates began a new ‘Professional Selling and Sales Process’ course in January.

As part of its programme of outreach activities, the Business School has also delivered commercial sales workshops to a number of clients including IDP and Norbord. 

The Thursday September 15 Masterclass at the Business School, from 11am-2pm, will see Professor Rackham discuss the ‘Five Megatrends’ that have defined selling. He will then focus on difficult sales issues raised by his audience of senior sales executives and strategists, covering anything from recruitment and training to marketing and online selling. Cost is £195 plus VAT, including a light lunch. 

The Evening With… session, from 5pm-7.15pm, will offer an insight into his research, which found greater success could be achieved by focusing on a pattern of questions – Situation, Problem, Implication and Need-payoff - which became widely known as SPIN selling. The rare opportunity to hear him speak on the topic in the UK costs only £25 plus VAT.

Professor Rackham, whose business writing has been translated into more than 50 languages, joins Edinburgh Napier for a three-year term. Proceeds from the Business School events will go towards sales research projects.

For more information on the September 15 events at Craiglockhart, contact Tony Douglas on . To book a place click here