For the past 11 years, the sales leadership minor has held the All MSU Sales Competition to give students real-world experience in the sales field. Although this year’s event could not take place in the Minskoff Pavilion, on Feb. 19 the virtual event rounded up the most competitors in its history, with 80 students attempting to get a spot in one of the four finalist positions. The finalists received cash prizes and the opportunity to represent MSU at the National Collegiate Sales Competition, hosted by Kennesaw State University on March 5–8.
This year’s finalists were seniors Lauren Smith, Josie Miller, Karlene Rychlick and Max Rosenfeld. They each excelled in a 20-minute simulated sales meeting in which they played the role of a Gartner salesperson, persuading Broad alumnus Gary Hardy, who played the role of the president of a large family-owned company, to work with Gartner and utilize their client services.
Judges named Miller, a marketing student, as the first-place winner, with Rosenfeld taking second, Rychilick third, and Smith fourth. Each student stood out for their friendly, concise, persuasive communication. Smith believed that her dedicated preparation and Broad education propelled her to the finals.
“Public speaking is definitely something that does not come naturally to most, so I am thankful that Broad prioritized making students more comfortable in front of audiences, because I never would have gotten through the final round without that early exposure,” she said.
Miller ultimately won the judges over with her ability to achieve the goals of the simulation in such a short amount of time.
“I was not at all expecting I would win when entering the competition in the morning. I just wanted to do my personal best to make sure I felt proud of my performance,” Miller said. “But as I went on in the competition, it really started to become more evident I could win. First place is exciting, but it really just allowed me to see how far I have come and how talented those around me are. First place was a surprise, but I hope to keep crafting my skill and getting better.”
Despite the lack of in-person interaction, students were able to meet with employers and recruiters one-on-one and in groups during the career fair portion of the MSU event.
“The planning team decided to use Handshake to manage both individual and group sessions throughout the day,” Eric Doerr, director of student and corporate engagement and planner of the competition, said. “Students would have to jump back and forth between Handshake and Zoom to participate in the various portions of the event.”
Although the students competed against each other for the MSU-hosted event, the finalists shifted their focus to team up for the national competition.
“Our students made it to the wildcard round but did not progress to the next round. That said, making it to the NCSC and competing in two rounds was a great experience for them and they represented MSU like all-stars,” Raymond Pirouz, fixed-term faculty and this year’s faculty advisor for the event, said.
The national competition, which is the longest running university sales role-play competition in existence, is also an opportunity for students to network with corporate partners and gain new insights about how to succeed in sales.
“The event gives our sales leadership minor students the opportunity to apply the skills they have developed in the program and to receive constructive feedback of their performance by faculty and veteran sales professionals acting as buyers and judges,” Pirouz said.
Smith shared that she has a job lined up after graduation and described how the competition provided her with unique advice before she starts her career.
“It allowed me to network with representatives from many different companies and show them my skillset, it allowed me to expand my LinkedIn network from competition exposure and it also allowed me to once again gain practice for my professional role in sales at Oracle NetSuite this coming fall,” she said.
Through events like the All MSU Sales Competition, Spartans are given hands-on opportunities to apply their classroom learnings and continue on their way to being well-rounded future business leaders.