During a two-day event earlier this month, 145 students from eight classes within the Sam M. Walton College of Business participated in the college’s 2023 Sales Competition, the largest one held to date. To participate, students must be enrolled in the Selling and Sales Management class (MKTG 4343) for the Nov. 8 team competition and in the Advanced Professional Sales class (MKTG 4353) for the Nov. 9 individual competition.
Six teams, consisting of two students on each, made it to the finals on Nov. 8. The team winners were Bailey Martin and Katherine Warstler in first place, Eánthe Pieterse and Kaylee Blackwood in second place, and David Darst and Frederick (Andrew) Milam placing third. Sanofi Consumer Healthcare was the case sponsor and featured Icy Hot and Aspercreme topical pain relievers brands in the case study.
During the team competition, students acting as sales professionals were tasked to:
- introduce themselves,
- uncover the needs of the client,
- present solutions to meet those needs,
- overcome any objections, and
- ask for the business.
Each team was expected to follow the sales process and present themselves as professionals. To prepare, they studied their products, researched what obstacles might be present and what appropriate solutions might be. Their solutions should grow the topical pain relief category, create a marketing plan and gain approval from the buyer.
INDIVIDUAL SALES CALL
Winners in the Nov. 9 competition for the advanced class were Isabelle Kopischke, who placed first, followed by Raeley Wilson coming in second and Jackson Tilley coming in third. The case sponsor was Fastenal, an industrial fastener and safety supply distributor.
During the individual competition, competitors pitched to a lighting fixture company to sell Fastenal brand products. For the event, students:
- studied the Fastenal product line,
- researched supply chain solutions provided by Fastenal
- examined supply chain needs, and
- asked for their commitment.
During the process, competitors asked detailed questions about potential supply chain issues experienced by the buyer. They then explained how their Fastenal products could assist the client and resolve supply chain issues.
“The teams won because they understood and practiced the art of selling,” said John Ballentine, instructor and sales program director in the Department of Marketing. “They followed the process, did their homework and welcomed coaching from their professors.”
Ballentine and fellow faculty members help to shape students in becoming sales professionals, not just salespeople.
“Selling is listening and helping,” Ballentine said. “Integrity matters. Trust matters. The prestigious role of a sales professional is to create value by solving client problems.”
Walton College faculty and staff joined forces to facilitate the event. The competition was planned by Jessica Burkett, director of student success, who coordinated the event and secured 30 industry professionals as judges.
Faculty in the Department of Marketing mentored and coached students in preparation of the competition. With a combined 150 years of sales and marketing experience, the faculty team was comprised of Trey Fairman, Rob McEver, John Lezon, Craig Geiger and John Ballentine. Serving as the sales program director, Ballentine led the competition program.
The clear winners in the program were students. Through the competition, students gained real world experience and a better understanding of the sales process, leading to stronger self-confidence within their careers. Several participants landed job interviews and networked with the judges.
“It’s a game changer,” Ballentine said. “It is fun to watch students compete and showcase the skills they have learned in class.”