Growth managers to enterprises – master-level sales management professionals graduate from TAMK
TAMK’s Master’s Degree Programme in International Sales and Sales Management, which started in January 2018, is the first Finnish master’s degree in which students study international B2B sales and sales management in multiprofessional teams. Twenty-six students were admitted to the degree programme and the first of them will graduate now in May and June and the rest during the latter part of the year.
It has earlier been possible to study international sales and sales management at the master’s level only in a couple of higher education institutions in Europe.
TAMK’s Principal Lecturer Pia Hautamäki tells that she is particularly proud of the new ”sales masters”.
”From the coach’s perspective the joint journey of 1.5 years has been a fantastic learning experience both for students and coaches. The graduates will now advance the good sales news around the world through their enterprises,” Hautamäki rejoices.
Based on research, the largest international business obstacles and growth challenges are insufficient sales and sales management competence. This has been a clear weakness in many Finnish enterprises and a problem to which this education responds.
According to Hautamäki, up to the present the focus has been on leadership. Sales management has been wobbly and it would even be possible to talk about excel management.
”Now we’ve new sales managers growing who also know how to involve people and teams in sales and base their decisions on information and data. They are sales management professionals who work for growth and know how to spar one another,” Hautamäki says.
New branch of science
Sales is quite a new branch of science and according to Hautamäki it also offers research possibilities in addition to degree studies. TAMK’s Master’s Degree Programme in International Sales and Sales Management is based on the latest sales research and working life needs.
The first student group is quite heterogeneous and the students applied for the programme for a variety of reasons. For some the primary aim is the new master’s degree but most want to have new competence and boost for their career or business.
Hautamäki, who wrote her doctoral thesis on sales management, believes that the increase in education possibilities will produce more Finnish sales and sales management professionals who understand what international sales and related management are and what they require. She also rejoices in graduates having competence and possibilities to apply for the diverse tasks of international sales and sales management.
Unique team learning
The team learning method used in the degree programme is unique according to Hautamäki. Team learning is also used in bachelor- and master-level entrepreneurship education at TAMK Proakatemia.
”Intensive contact teaching periods have been used as a teaching method. Students have prepared for the periods well. During the intensive periods each theme has been refined and put directly into practice in the everyday life of enterprises,” Hautamäki tells.
Hautamäki tells that she has already seen amazing career and growth stories during the education.
”I think it’s the success recipe of this programme that students gain sales and growth management competence on top of their special competence. I’m especially excited about the participants being professionals of different fields: engineering, physiotherapy, social sciences, commercial field and even pharmacy. Especially Finnish economics and engineering professionals need sales competence as they often work in managerial duties and need competence in growth management. It’s great that higher education graduates from any field have the chance to apply for this programme.”
Chief Business Officer Henna Paakinaho is one of the graduating students. The official degree title is Master of Business Administration. Paakinaho first hesitated to apply for the programme even if sales and marketing have always interested her.
”I’ve worked at Collapick for six years and been in charge of sales and marketing management in the past few years. At first I thought that I can’t apply for the programme as I graduated in IT engineering. However, everything fell into place and the programme has been much more than I expected.”
According to Paakinaho, the best thing about the degree programme has been its working life correspondence.
”All what we have learnt has been put directly into practice at our workplaces. The growth I’ve seen in myself and our enterprise has been huge. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my work and expertise.”
According to Paakinaho, studying international sales and sales management has been intensive and very different from traditional lectures.
”In this degree programme students have enthusiasm,” Paakinaho says.
Principal Lecturer Pia Hautamäki has also needed the spark. She is a sought-after lecturer in national sales conferences and seminars. Now she rejoices in the graduating superstars who are ready to seize the stages.
Direct application in practice
Henna Paakinaho intends to seize the challenge of harnessing expert potential for sales. When discussing with a salesperson in her enterprise, Paakinaho noticed that their conceptions of useful sales indicators were very different.
”Indicators should support and help the salesperson. The team has to be involved in sales planning as experts understand their work best. Enterprises should understand that every task is a part of sales. Meeting customers during a project is work for the future,” she says.
Pia Hautamäki has challenged students to consider their role as sales management professionals: are they experts, developers or managers?
”It’s very important to find one’s personal role and place and develop towards it. How to use experts’ competence in sales, how to manage, how to involve teams? Sales is everyone’s task.”
The network of new ”sales masters” will continue as TAMK’s alumni after the studies and take the message of the degree programme further in their networks. Paakinaho sees the students’ diverse experiences as richness.
”There are people who haven’t yet been in working life for long and entrepreneurs with dozens of years of work experience. I first though that I’ve nothing to give but discussions and sparring one another have worked really well.”