By Caroline Brooks
You have 20 minutes to convince 60 corporates that they need to invest in a product. Go.
Some may read this and panic. By contrast, sales leadership students remained cool, calm, and collected through the four heated rounds of the All-MSU Sales Competition on Friday, February 10.
The tournament-style competition attracted 60 students, predominantly those with a Sales Leadership minor, and more than 60 corporate partners who served as judges. Students conducted 20-minute sales calls to sell a HR/payroll service to a succession of small business owners by assessing the prospects’ needs, presenting a solution, and negotiating concerns. Patrick Conway (BA Marketing ’17, Sales Leadership minor) captured first place in the competition and walked away with a $2,000 scholarship.
Conway, who competed in the competition in 2016, took a different approach to preparing this year. “I realized that I didn’t need to try and be anyone else, but instead fine tune my personal approach. Everyone sells a little differently based on their personality and skill set, so this year I really focused on making the call a conversation and staying true to my selling style while also adjusting to the buyer. I learned the best way to practice is through role play, so I did mock sales scenarios with one of my previous teammates and polished certain areas of my call,” Conway said.
Also reaching the finals were second-place finisher Rachel Gallagher (BA Finance ’17, Sales Leadership minor), third-place finisher Rachel Clark (BA Advertising ’18, Sales Leadership minor), and fourth-place finisher Kylie Commet (BA Marketing ’17, Sales Leadership minor).
“The competition provides an excellent experiential opportunity for our students to showcase their talents and to further develop and refine their skills, and it is a great example of a very productive relationship between our sales program and the business community,” said Doug Hughes, interim chair of marketing at the Broad College of Business, and United Shore Faculty Fellow in Sales Leadership. Hughes added, “We are grateful for the tremendous support of our corporate partners.”
Conway, Gallagher, Clark, and Commet will represent MSU at the National Collegiate Sales Competition in Georgia in April.
“What excites me most about the national competition is the chance to compete against some of the most talented students in the country – some whom I was up against last year. There is no better feeling than representing Michigan State University and the faculty and partners who push us as sales students every day,” Conway said. “Our corporate partners show sincere interest in helping us learn, so competing is a way to say thank you and show them just how pivotal they have been in developing our selling skills,” he said.