The World Collegiate Sales Open

The following guest post is written by Senior Marketing Major Abbey Vanderwoude. 

Nicole and Abbey prepping 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenLast weekend was the culmination of a 9-month long sales competition, the World Collegiate Sales Open.  The WCSO was designed by the legendary Dr. Dan Weilbaker himself, and is unlike any other sales competition. Nick Kochetta, Nicole Weldon, and I were deemed finalists who joined the other 17 students from around the world for the final series of events: a voicemail, appointment call, two role plays, two elevator pitches, and reverse job fair.  I have competed in other sales competitions in the past, but the WCSO was an entirely new experience. I was pushed way past my comfort zone with unusual events like the elevator pitch and the reverse job fair. The competition was also unique because it incorporated a series of curve balls to keep us on our toes. While these curve balls made the events more difficult, the effect was that the combined events added up to a realistic portrayal of the sales professional’s journey to earn an account’s business.

Abbey Groza Jerry 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenAmidst the competitions events, we had the chance to mingle with the other contestants and learn about other sales programs around the world. The students each brought their own perspective to sales, and I know I learned a lot from them. When I walked out of my Final Four Role Play, I was down on myself for not “controlling the meeting,” and not running the call the way I planned. I spoke to another finalist at the Awards Banquet, who, interestingly enough, happened to be an accounting major, and his response was this: “It wasn’t your meeting.” He was absolutely right, and I am so glad to have learned that perspective from him. In addition to networking with other contestants, I really enjoyed networking with the competition sponsors and judges. Companies including White Lodging, ADP, McKesson, Bosch, Adobe, and Sure Payroll generously sponsored the WCSO, and all were eager to get to know the students.

Barsema Hall 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenOne of my main takeaways from last weekend is that the NIU Professional Selling Program prepares its students extremely well for sales careers.  Although we were sitting in a room with students from the top sales programs around the world, our skills as NIU students stood out.  Our team was extremely grateful to be coached by the best, Dr. Peterson, and we know we would not have made it to the finals round without his guidance. From our experience in Marketing 350 and Marketing 450, we were able to overcome the curve balls thrown our way and, as Dr. Peterson would say, not let “the wheels come off.” It was an absolute honor to be a part of such an esteemed competition, but even more of an honor to represent the NIU Sales Program and make our peers proud.

Prizes 300x195 The World Collegiate Sales Open

 

Regional Sales Competition

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a sales competition for the AMA regional conference in Whitewater, Wisconsin.  I learned a lot about myself and my education in the process and feel compelled to share it with you all by way of this post.  But first, I should preface that with some information about the conference!

AMA Conference2 Regional Sales Competition

NIU students take a quick pic at the AMA Regional Conference

The conference played host to phenomenal guest speakers and numerous networking opportunities.  What I really went for, however, was the sales competition.The competition had two rounds.  The first was an appointment call where we played the role of a sales rep for College Pro Painters (the sponsor of the competition).  On our call we were to speak with the owner of an event planning company who had submitted an estimate request online.

My call went very well and my judges gave excellent feedback.  My approach on the call felt so fluid.  I worked through objections, built solid rapport, and made the appointment to meet face to face with my prospect.   I had a quiet confidence about me in the role play and my judges reinforced this in their comments following my call.  It was very odd to hear such positive feedback, however, because up to this point my experiences in sales usually come up short of a “win”; especially in the NIU sales program.  I am bruised and bloodied in the sales track here but my goodness I’m proud to take the hits if this level of performance is the outcome.

I saw people from other schools walk out of the role play rooms complaining how the objections they received didn’t match the ones they expected based on their preparation.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I have been groomed to expect the unexpected and with only an hour or so worth of preparation I was able to field any and all objections that were thrown at me.  I have been trained to think outside the box and understand the needs of the customer.  I know to listen before I speak and I understand that if a buyer has a problem that you NEED be the solution in order to make the sale.

Preparation Regional Sales Competition

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. -Alexander Graham Bell

Most people that know me well understand that I maintain an extreme and sometimes unhealthy level of modesty.  I must deviate from that on this post to help you understand how incredible our sales program is.  When it came time for results to be posted from round 1, I didn’t even feel the need to look.  I already knew I moved on.  I walked out of that room knowing that I nailed the call.  The only reason I even went to see the results sheet that they posted in the hall was to see what time my second round face to face appointment with the prospect was.  It was scheduled a few hours away and I needed to begin preparing.

I prepared until my scheduled time and walked into the room with confidence.  In this final round, I was meeting face to face with the business owner to close a deal to paint his business.  I used tools I had learned from professors here at NIU and I credit them alone to how well my entire experience at this regional conference went.  I felt like a sales “monster” in that final role play.  Not a single thing went wrong.  My judges were spellbound and had nothing to say when I invited them to give any constructive criticism.  They looked to each other and simply shook their heads.  They said they loved my process.  They said it was clean, consistent, and focused on the needs of the customer.  I believe that the judges thought the same about our other students who participated because the NIU AMA chapter ended up taking home two runner up prizes and one first place (which I’m proud to have accepted on behalf of our NIU chapter and the NIU College of Business).

AMA prizes Regional Sales Competition

Three of Six top prizes claimed by the NIU American Marketing Society!

I’ve gone through so much rejection, had so many missteps in MKTG 450 (the highest level sales course at NIU) but all the mistakes have been worth something.  It finally hit me at the competition, just how much I’ve learned in the past nine weeks.  The value of participating in MKTG 450 is undeniable.  It is no wonder why I hear recruiters consistently say that 450 alum are a cut above.  Up to this point I haven’t had anything to validate these claims and the competition really just opened my eyes.  When a single school takes home half of the cash prizes (each winner was a MKTG 450 student), there is something to be said about that schools program and its attention to detail.  I am sure that I’m not alone in my thinking and other 450 students and alum can attest to the growth they’ve seen in themselves;  both personally and professionally based on their experience in Advanced Professional Sales.

Weilbaker D Regional Sales CompetitionI feel that it is appropriate within the context of this blog post to take a moment to thank Dr. Weilbaker, the founder of our sales track here at NIU, for his exceptional work in making this program the powerhouse it is today.  I am certainly not alone in saying that I appreciate what he’s done.  Thank you for your years of service to this institution.  We wish you nothing but the best when this semester reaches its end.  2.0out