The buying and selling of components (business-to-business – B2B) has become an activity of increasing relevance in a well-functioning economy. Within the context of a network economy, European industry has been confronted with an additional set of complex challenges including the intensified global competition and the resulting fundamental change in customer behavior, the high volatility and susceptibility to crises of global supply networks, raising sustainability issues and continuous demographic change. Digitalization disrupts the traditional buyer-seller interaction. A scientifically based skills development program in customer management is missing, even more one reflecting the increasing digitalization requirements.
The present project aims to fill this educational gap and contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the European economy by ensuring optimal training of professional B2B (business-to-business) sales personnel in order to reduce inefficiencies and frictions in the digitalizing supply network. The objective of the project is to design an empirically validated skills model for B2B customer management skills and a (post-graduate level) curriculum and program guide for developing these skills. CustMaS is, therefore, going to pay special attention not only to identify current success skills, but identify the necessary digitalization skills as core part of the 21st century skills.
The curriculum will be offered as a Master’s program and will foster the cooperation between the participating universities concerning sales professionals’ customer management skills in the context of increasingly digitalized B2B markets (e.g., setting up and selling in virtual showrooms, diagnosing customer needs online, text analytics useful in modelling the topics that B2B buyers prioritize on their web site, in e-mails, twitter posts etc). In particular, the project has the following objectives:
a) Develop an up-to-date, comprehensive, and empirically validated model of skills in B2B customer management in a digitalizing world.
b) Develop a post-graduate level course curriculum and program guide including program intended learning outcomes, appropriate pedagogy and evaluation strategies.
c) Disseminate the results of the project for a broader community. The project is going to develop a self-assessment tool for customer management skill evaluation and prepare an introductory Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on upskilling and reskilling. The course can be used by students in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, logistics, industrial engineering, life sciences (e.g., biology, biotechnology, pharmacology, zoology) and business administration as well as by other learners. It will also help in promoting awareness and interest towards professional sales and selling career paths that appear to offer a bright outlook in the job market of the future.
Sales occupations (i.e., sales engineers, sales representatives of services, wholesale, and manufacturing) have been classified as occupations with a bright outlook “projected to grow faster than average” and “to have 100,000 or more job openings over the period 2019-2029 [only] for the US”. Importantly, market reports note insufficient talent as a key barrier for B2B sellers in Europe. It follows, that for European B2B firms to compete for the markets of purchasing expenses they need sales professionals that will be skillful in accommodating changing B2B buying behavior.
For more information and/ or questions please contact:
Mr. Aristotelis Alexopoulos, 210 8964531 (270), [email protected]