A team of three University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students — Marty Pitzen, Shoreview, Minn., David Lenling, Prior Lake, Minn., and Stephanie Mixdorf of Slinger — recently took sixth place at the National Collegiate Sales Competition held at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Pitzen also placed second in the nation in the individual rankings in the service competition.
All three students are senior marketing majors, but Pitzen and Mixdorf’s programs have a professional sales emphasis.
The students were given 20 minutes to make sales presentations to experienced buyers from some of the top companies in the nation. Pitzen and Lenling handled the presentations for UW-Eau Claire, while Mixdorf acted as their coach. Ceiling mounted video cameras captured the action for teams of five judges, each comprised of three corporate representatives and two faculty members from non-competing schools.
The students went through two rounds of competition, selling a product in the first round and a service in the second. Judges selected the top three students, who then competed in a third round of competition, which all the other competitors were allowed to watch.
“The experience was nerve-wracking, but one of the most incredible professional experiences of my life,” said Pitzen. “At the career fair that is running during the competition, you see some of the most desirable companies in the United States just waiting to speak with you. Tables that would have 15 people waiting at a normal career fair are almost empty and just waiting to get 15 minutes of one-on-one time with the students.”
Lenling agreed. “The competition itself was an absolute blast,” he said. “We had the chance to meet students from all over the nation, but best of all were the recruiters. The 22 sponsors sent so many reps that there were almost as many recruiters there as students.”
“The day I arrived back from the conference I scheduled three interviews with some of my most desired companies,” said Pitzen.
Pitzen, Lenling and Mixdorf are only the second group of UW-Eau Claire students to attend the national competition after scoring the top three spots in a similar competition held at UW-Eau Claire about six weeks earlier. Ten students competed in that local event.
Marketing professor Lanette Flunker traveled with the three winners to Atlanta, where 32 universities competed in the national event. Dr. Robert Erffmeyer, professor of management and marketing, also helped prepare the team for the event. He took the very first group of UW-Eau Claire students to last year’s competition. That group, who did well but did not place, predicted that UW-Eau Claire would do better this year because the next team would know more about the competition. Their prediction proved true.
“There is no way we could have achieved the results we did without faculty spending many hours coaching us on sales skills,” Lenling said, explaining that after winning the local competition, the three students participated in a three-hour class each Friday for five weeks to prepare for the national event.
Flunker said that she and Erffmeyer not only did practice role plays with the students during that time, they also brought in outside sales professionals to work with them.
“The faculty’s dedication to the event was very impressive,” said Lenling. “They were there for us every step of the way, providing us with great training and pointers! I would recommend trying out for this event to any marketing major,” Lenling said.
- UW-Eau Claire News Bureau