Review: Northwestern Art of Sales Specialization
Do you struggle with professional confidence? Have you ever wondered if you could improve your elevator pitch for yourself or your business? Well, you're in luck because Northwestern has the class for you.
The Northwestern Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization on Coursera offers a comprehensive overview of the principles and techniques of how to be a successful salesperson. The program is designed to cater to both aspiring and experienced sales professionals, and provides an in-depth examination of the sales processes and primary strategies. You'll focus on practical measures for building rapport, creating value, and closing deals with real-world examples and interactive exercises.
The five courses to complete the specialization are:
- Customer Segmentation and Prospecting
- Connecting with Sales Prospects
- Sales Pitch and Closing
- Building a Toolkit for Your Sales Process
We've actually never seen as many rave reviews about a Professor as we did Professor Craig Wortmann. Wortmann is a vetted industry professional and has a stacked resume that includes being a CEO, Venture Capital parnter, and Professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. Students loved both the brevity and efficiency of his material, and his friendly and charismatic presentation demeanor.
If you're not looking to complete the whole specialization but looking to be better at talking to people in the corporate world, we recommend the first and second courses in the specialization. They both averaged 4.8 / 5 star ratings with absolute stunning reviews. Really dive deep into connecting with the right people, communicating effectively, and handling rejection in a very condensed and helpful way.
The curriculum is meant to be consumed over a 16-week period, but it can also be completed at your own pace, which would probably be much quicker if you're dedicated.
We’ve recapped the learning objectives from each week to set your expectations for course material. The great part about this program is that you can jump to any course, and any section if it’s interesting to you. For example, if you're just looking for ways to handle rejection gracefully, jump to course 2, week 3-4.
To audit an individual week-- find the exact course (we've linked them individually here) and click "audit" to save it to your profile. Then open the desired week on the side panel that aligns with our recaps.
Course 1: Customer Segmentation and Prospecting
Learning Objectives from Week 1: It All Starts With a Goal
- Review an outline for the course and learning materials.
- Touch on the skills of a successful salesperson: relationship building, product knowledge, effective communication, closing techniques, negotiation skills, and discipline.
- Learn SMART-goal processes- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound and apply it to the sales process.
Learning Objectives from Week 2: Selling is a Contact Sport
- Learn how to select a promising prospect: apply filters to determine high-potential targets, develop a database, identify main lead generation sources.
- Preparation for sales meeting: Identify necessary items, build a list of items to bring to every meeting.
- Learn how to write a concise, action-oriented introduction that stands out in the prospect's inbox.
Learning Objectives from Week 3: Selling Happens in Conversation
- Explain the importance of having multiple conversations (Lead Generation) to fill the sales pipeline.
- Create a "sales trailer" by developing a clear and compelling picture of you or your business.
- Determine criteria for identifying the right (or wrong) person to sell to and practice techniques to exit gracefully from unproductive conversations.
Learning Objectives from Week 4: Qualify, Hard and Early
- Practice more ways to identify an unproductive conversation.
- Learn effective ways to "ask" for a follow-up meeting.
- Qualify prospects with relevant questions, starting with budget, timeline, and decision-maker, using a prioritized list of qualifying questions.
Course 2: Connecting with Sales Prospects
Learning Objectives from Week 1: Running High-Impact Meetings
- Demonstrate how to run efficient sales meetings.
- Learn the five aspects of a well-run meeting: PBC (Price, Budget and Competitor), Pivots, Time Management, Closing and Thank-You Notes
- Practice writing baller thank-you notes.
Learning Objectives from Week 2: Asking Better Questions
- Learn the difference between a "good" question and an "impact" question.
- Discuss when to ask an impact question, vs. when it's better to be quiet.
Learning Objectives from Week 3: Handling Objections
- Walk through the skills and disciplines of handling various objections.
- Show how to earn credibility during objections with a five-step process.
- Learn the best way to respond to the three main objections a prospect could give.
Learning Objectives from Week 4: The Power of Story
- Articulate a compelling story by aligning it with the right audience, timing, and purpose.
- Evaluate the four story types and their strengths/weaknesses, use the Story Matrix to organize them, and build five stories to create a comprehensive narrative.
- Recognize the structure of a great story and apply it to create engaging stories that resonate with your audience.
Learning Objectives from Week 5: Team Selling for Impact
- Demonstrate how the dynamic of selling changes when there are multiple salespeople in a room.
- Differentiate between the role of the "process leader" vs. the "perspective leader."
- Learn the risks of team selling, and how to give (and receive!) feedback to team members to increase performance.
Course 3: Sales Pitch and Closing
Learning Objectives from Week 1: Presenting with Panache
- Demonstrate the components of presenting with influence and style.
- Practice a presentation!
Learning Objectives from Week 2: Will You Marry Me?
- Show how closing a deal is the natural outcome of a job done well.
- Learn how to overcome the fear of seeming manipulative or awkward during closing.
Learning Objectives from Week 3: Falling in Love with Brand You
- Practice establishing things about yourself that will make others love you.
- Learn how and why win/loss debriefs cause clients to fall in love.
- Show how to look for opportunities to go above and beyond for a client.
Course 4: Building a Toolkit for Your Sales Process
Learning Objectives from Week 1: Barter that Thing!
- Practice bartering, and discuss lessons learned.
- Apply the newly learned lessons to various sales situations.
Learning Objectives from Week 2: Value Creation
- Determine how to make your toolkit accessible for all sales conversations.
Learning Objectives from Week 3: Refine
- Assemble a refined personal sales toolkit.
- Practice story creation to support your sales process.
Learning Objectives from Week 4: Spread the Love!
- Teach someone else how to tell and capture their story.
- Work with peers to identify the three unique elements of someone else's brand and work together to craft those elements into a successful pitch.
Cost and Auditing
The program is only $49/month, and comes with a Linkedin Certificate on behalf of Northwestern University. If you complete the curriculum on the proposed timeline, it should take about 4 months, though you could blitz through it on a break in far less. We noticed each week only had about 2 combined hours of video and reading materials and one assignment. This means each week is about 3-4 hours of work.
While $49/month may seem steep, compared to a degree or bootcamp this college-credited micro-certification is a steal!
If you have a learning budget at your current company, or are dedicated to upskilling your career – we recommend completing the program and getting the shareable certificate (GET RECEIPTS!). This will help make your Linkedin and resume more searchable to recruiters who may be looking for specific keywords and programs. To audit the program and simply learn the material, this program is completely free! Thanks Coursera!
We recommend auditing the one of the courses-- they're semi independent--to decide if this program and the professors match your learning style. To audit, simply click "Enroll for Free" and click "Audit" on the bottom of the second step. Voila, you're in!
This is a newer program, and while it didn't have a wild amount of reviews-- it did have great ones. Each of the specialization's courses averaged above a 4.7 star rating, with hundreds of reviews.
One thing we noticed.. we've done a lot of these course reviews, and very rarely did we see students commenting directing ON or TO the professor. Students are obsessed with Professor Craig, and most of the reviews we scouted had some mention of how awesome he is. With that in mind, BRB as we take this course ourselves!
Some of our favorite positive review points:
- This training has given me the skills and knowledge to effectively segment and target potential customers, leading to more personalized and successful sales and marketing campaigns.
- I am confident that it will pay off in my professional career. I look forward to applying these new techniques in my current role and to continue learning and growing as a professional. I am eager to put my new skills to use and see the positive impact they will have on my work. Thank you for this opportunity to learn and grow! - Rohini T.
- This course offered great concepts and delivered more than I expected. I wish I had a professor like Craig in grad or undergrad. The course was quick, to the point, and filled with excellent content. It definitely exceeded expectations. - Wisam A.
Aggregations of negative review points (there were not many):
- It is an extremely low workload, I finished the first 2 courses of this specialization in 3 days. - Daniel P.
- Some of the videos were on the shorter side.
... and our favorite overall review:
If you don't have confidence in yourself and selling skills, I would recommend this course. Being a former Army Officer, Plant Manager and leader in logistics didn't prepare me for this. I felt naked my first time out but I gained confidence in the instructions. I think what really matters is that I have never had any other sales training so I had to believe that our instructor is the expert and all I had to do was to do exactly what he instructed me to do just the way he said to do it. It works! The barter exercises will get you out and in a comfort zone so take this part seriously and don't brush it off.
-Vonnie D, on Course 1: Customer Segmentation and Prospecting
We mentioned this a few times, but this course from Northwestern is great as a showable certification, but may not be everything you need to start a career as a BDR or account executive. Here are some of our favorite classes focused specifically on learning the material.
For upskilling your cold calling: Cold Calling for B2B Sales: How to Prospect over the Phone
The concepts in this Udemy course somewhat overlap with this specialization (like dealing with objections, etc), but it is more focused on phone etiquette and how to inspire prospects to return your calls. We loved it because it was affordable and practical-- we use Udemy for quick bites of valuable knowledge.
For business owners looking to upskill further: UVA's Business Strategy Specialization
UVA creates premier Coursera programs, and provides a prestigious resume/linkedin certification to boot. This particular specialization covers both the the global aspects of strategic management. You'll learn how to evaluate industry evolution, build and sustain competitive advantage, formulate and assess business strategies, and align efforts to organizational strategy. This particular program is $79/month, but you can stack it with the Coursera Plus plan to do as many programs as possible!
Related Business Development Certs
For those who don't want to mess around: Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate
Of course Salesforce offers a professional certificate on selling. It's almost an oxymoron. This 6 month program has a 4.5/5 star rating on Coursera and is a great way to show ambition towards a career in tech sales. Learn the fundamentals of the sales process and how to attain a SDR's growth mindset, prospect leads, and streamline your SDR workflow.
For the BDR: Business Mind - Mastering Business Development
This is a top Udemy seller, and teaches the each perspective of the business development funnel-- including tasks, prospecting, sales, and marketing. If you catch it on sale, it's less than $20, which makes it a great intro to the field of Business Development.
Whether you're looking to start a career in sales or to refine your existing skills, the Northwestern Art of Sales program is an excellent investment in your professional development. Say hi to Professor Craig for us!
Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. This program could be one notch in your arsenal to really kick your technical expertise into gear!