UW-Eau Claire Students Develop Sales Skills at Area and National Sales Competitions
by Kathryn Klocke
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire marketing student Lindsey Zastrow from Green Bay, took first place in the service category of the 8th National Collegiate Sales Competition held March 17-18, 2006 at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
The UW-Eau Claire team placed sixth nationally, beating teams from such schools as Babson College, Baylor University, Harvard, Purdue, Texas State University and University of Houston. The team consisted of Zastrow and John Kyriagis, Plymouth, Minn., as individual competitors, with Katie Anderson, Oakdale , Minn., and Brandon Hall, Wausau, serving as alternates and support team. LaNette Flunker, senior lecturer in management and marketing, was the faculty coach for the UW-Eau Claire team.
Students competed individually with each competitor selling a good and a service to a buyer during each of the first two rounds of competition. Last year competitors sold ACT software, contact management software commonly used by sales people to manage client/customer contacts and information, and UPS shipping services. Each sales call was broadcast live to the room of judges who evaluate the competitors on factors such as establishing rapport with the buyer, identifying needs, handling objections, and closing the sale. Students with the top scores in each category after the preliminary rounds received awards. The three students with the top combined scores (product and service) went on to the championship round. The cumulative score of all team members determined the team ranking, with awards going to the top ten teams.
Corporate sponsors served as buyers and judges for the event. Typically, 30-40 different corporate sponsors attend the event each year. Because they have the opportunity to observe and interact with the competitors, it is not uncommon for many students to come out of the experience with job or internship offers. “The sponsors view the student competitors as goal-oriented individuals who are not afraid to take risks,” said Flunker. “They get to see each competitor work under extreme pressure.”
Prior to the national competition, UW-Eau Claire students competed in a campus competition to determine who would attend the national event. UW-Eau Claire is holding its annual campus collegiate sales competition, Friday, December 1, 2006. The top four UW-Eau Claire students will receive trophies and all expense paid trips to the 9th Annual National Collegiate Sales Competition at Kennesaw State University, March 16-17, 2007. See sidebar for details.
Flunker claims that the keys to a winning sales presentation include confidence, product knowledge, and good listening skills. “It is important for each student to come prepared with good back-up plans,” she says. “Not listening to the buyer usually results in not being able to answer the buyer’s objections and it is the most common mistake made by competitors.”
Kathryn Klocke is a senior marketing student from Onalaska, WI. She wrote this article for a BCOM 306 class project.