University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students placed seventh in the annual National Collegiate Sales Competition, a two-day role-playing challenge that often is called "The World Series of Sales."
Seventy-five students from more than 35 universities from throughout the country participated in the March 18-19 event at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta.
The UW-Eau Claire team consisted of Jane Frey (alternate), a senior marketing major from Antigo; Jennifer Long, a senior marketing major from Janesville; and Kristy Weiss, a senior mass communication major and marketing minor from Maple Grove, Minn.
Weiss placed third nationally in the
Service Category of the competition.
"This competition gave me a weekend to network with employers and students who are looking to be in the sales profession," said Weiss, who became interested in sales during a summer internship with Cintas Corp. in Minnesota. "The opportunity allowed me to see how I stack up among other students looking to go into sales and to see what I can do under pressure."
The national competition, now in its seventh year, tests students' selling skills in one-on-one sales presentation role-plays. It also provides opportunities for networking through a career fair that brings together students and business professionals.
"I had already accepted a job with Cintas so I wasn't doing much as far as job searching," Weiss said. "Instead I used the opportunity to make contacts and create opportunities for myself for the long run. Networking is a great tool so I met as many people as I could."
Weiss said the experience taught her how to talk with employers, as well as about sales. "I learned a lot about actively listening to employers in order to ask the right questions, the types of questions to ask employers to evaluate their training criteria and starting positions, and how to hold myself together when under a lot of pressure," she said. "I learned so much about myself. I learned that if I push myself to be the best that I can be, I have the ability to achieve anything."
Weiss and other members of UW-Eau Claire's team were selected in mid-December 2004 after participating in a sales competition on campus. Students in the campus competition were judged by UW-Eau Claire alumni and marketing faculty members.
Winners of the campus competition received
coaching outside of the classroom for several weeks
before the national event, said LaNette Flunker, a lecturer
in the management and marketing department who accompanied
the students to the competition. She said companies
like Hormel and Cintas offered their training and sales
staff to help prepare the students.
"We got involved in the competition three years ago to give students a challenging opportunity and to showcase the best of the marketing department," Flunker said. "The majority of marketing majors enter their careers in sales and what better way to give them an opportunity to show what they have learned."
During the competition, students gave 20-minute sales presentations to experienced buyers from top companies. The presentations were viewed by teams of judges, comprised of corporate representatives and faculty 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.
In addition to the competition, there were opportunities for the students to meet with recruiters from nearly 40 employers, Flunker said. All three UW-Eau Claire students were offered interviews and Flunker received commitments from a dozen employers who want to recruit at UW-Eau Claire, she said.
This is the third time UW-Eau Claire has participated in the national competition. Last year's team won sixth overall, Flunker said, noting that UW-Eau Claire's success is particularly impressive because students compete against students from much larger schools such as the University of Houston and Purdue.
For more information about the competition, contact LaNette Flunker, at (715) 836-2088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UW-Eau Claire News Bureau