Professional Sales

There may be no more universal skill than selling. And yet, very few schools  teach it. This major is designed to fix that by equipping students with a necessary life skill, regardless of what profession they choose to enter.

Key Contributors & Instructors

Dr. Steve Newell

Dr. Newell is the Associate Dean of Operations and Graduate Programs and Professor of Marketing at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including (among others) the Industrial Marketing Management, the Journal of Advertising, the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Consumer Affairs, the Journal of Marketing Communications, the Journal of Marketing Education, and the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. Previously, Dr. Newell worked as a sales representative for a consumer goods company and as a sales manager for an environmental consulting firm. Dr. Newell holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

Dr. Kelley O'Reilly

Dr. O’Reilly is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business.  O’Reilly’s dissertation research provides a framework for diagnosing customer-company interactions and for designing protocols for effective sales and service programs within the sales and retail domains. She has more than 20 years of experience in retail and service franchise businesses. She has held executive positions at Fortune 100 corporations, including senior vice president of strategy and brand development, vice president of sales and marketing and vice president of advertising. In these roles, she managed the sales, marketing, new product development, purchasing, advertising, training and retail management functions with full profit and loss responsibility. 

Dr. Jim Eckert

Dr. Eckert is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business. He specializes in teaching and research that deals with the challenges of creating and maintaining successful business-to-business relationships. His dissertation dealt with conflict in exchange relationships and he has been most recently researching in the area of adaptive selling. Eckert is also the founder of PartnerBuilding, where he conducts trainings, presents seminars, and executes research on the topics of negotiation, personal selling, and business-to-business relationship management. He holds a Ph.D from Michigan State University.

About the Major

The Rize Professional Sales major seeks to deliver this valuable skill to students and solve the skills gap that currently exists in our economy by providing students with relevant, project-based learning thus allowing them to develop one of the most sought-after skills in both Fortune 500 companies and fast-growing technology firms. This track features a heavy focus on Relationship-Driven Selling, which is vital to ensuring long-term customer commitments in B2B sales. Additionally, all of the classes place an emphasis on hands-on learning, where students are not just learning theory, but instead putting those theories to practice in live sales environments with their professor and peers. Our goal here is to provide students with valuable on-the-job experience that will prepare them for the positions they ultimately end up filling once they graduate.


Our offering is not intended as a stand-alone major. Instead, it is intended to integrate with existing business majors, either replacing select upper division courses in a more specialized business major, or replacing elective requirements in a more standard major in business administration.


The Rize Professional Sales major was developed by faculty at Western Michigan University in collaboration with multiple Fortune 500 companies, and the Rize Curriculum Development team. Western Michigan’s status as one of the best Professional Sales programs in the country – and their experience with online education – made them an ideal partner to develop this curriculum. Rize Professional Sales courses will be taught online – either synchronously or asynchronously – by faculty at Western Michigan.

Why It Matters

Desperate Employers

Virtually every Fortune 500 company we interviewed, across every industry, was desperate to find skilled sales people

The rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers nationwide – companies like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Amazon Web Services – has only heightened this need in recent years. It is one of the best skills for students in search of a lucrative and sustainable career to gain.

Virtually no one teaches it

There are only about 80 colleges in the US who have a Sales Dept. on their campus 

And many of these sales degrees are purely theoretical, and fail to impart not only the most essential skills, but also the realities of what a career in sales entails. Our program is designed to bring students directly into the real-world with an emphasis on role-playing and perfection through practice.

Universal Skill

Regardless of a student’s desired line of work, learning to sell is essential

It is, in many senses, a liberal art in its own right. Sales teaches empathy, compassion, strong listening skills, problem-solving, and many other skills essential to everyday life.

4 Courses. 12 credit hours.

Enough for virtually any college to start a full-fledged Professional Sales major or minor

Relation-Driven Professional Selling

The foundation.

Sales Leadership

Skills to Drive Sales Success


Sales Essentials

Skills to Navigate the Next Level

Advanced Relationship-Driven Professional Selling

Cultivating Sales Success

Hours of Recorded Mock Sales Pitches

Every student graduating from this curriculum will have completed  several hours of recorded and analyzed 1-on-1 sales pitches with our expert professors. This experience provides them with the skillset and confidence to head directly into the front lines of any major corporation.