Competition season hits for ProSales students

By Curtis Schroeder

Guest contributor

At Baylor, the fall signals the clashing of helmets on the gridiron, cooler weather and for ProSales students, the launch of sales competition season.

Casual observers may not understand why Baylor’s professional sales majors travel to seven universities across the country each year to engage in these competitions. It is this out-of-class learning that is the life-blood of the ProSales major and what equips students with the skills and experience to become successful salespeople as they enter the work force.

Sales competitions are a foundational element of our students’ college-to-career transition,” said Andrea Dixon, executive director of the Center for Professional Selling. “We explain to our students that taking a tennis class doesn’t make you a tennis player. While you can learn the fundamentals of the game in a class, you really become a tennis player when you participate in a tennis tournament and internalize the game.

“It’s the same situation for ProSales. We can teach students the sales process in the classroom, but engaging in sales competitions gives our students the opportunity to internalize the sales process and become a sales professional,” he said. “Prospective employers see our intentional approach for the college-to-career transition as a serious value-add as they look to hire the next generation of sales professionals in their companies.”

The season kicked off on Oct. 15-16, when 10 ProSales students competed in the first round of the World Collegiate Sales Open. The WCSO is a four-round competition based out of Northern Illinois University that begins in October and concludes in February. Students in the competition serve as sales representatives for the Adobe Connect Pro product, and complete a series of exercises that mirror real world sales processes. Corporate executives judge each round, and the first round required competitors to complete a voicemail call to a prospective buyer. Hundreds of students from universities around the world competed in the first round, and each of Baylor’s 10 competitors made it through to the second round.

The second round took place a week later and required competitors to secure an appointment with the buyer in a live call with a gatekeeper. In round three, students must complete a virtual inside sales call with a live buyer using Adobe Connect Pro, web-conferencing software. Round three will take place on Nov. 26-27. The top 20 competitors who make it through round three and into the finals will compete in a series of events (live and virtual) on NIU’s campus on Feb. 21-23.

While 10 students began competition in the WCSO, two other ProSales students, Joanna Murrieta and Taylor Huske, launched their competition seasons at the inaugural International Collegiate Sales Competition held at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., on Oct. 19-21.

The four-round ICSC format included a breadth of sales challenges, including direct-selling, international and technology-based competition components. The third round featured a sales call to a buyer connecting from Russia via Skype.

For Murrieta and Huske, both seniors graduating in December, the ICSC marked the last time they will compete as undergraduate students. The pair did not disappoint, and each walked away with impressive results to add to their resumes.

Murrieta made it to round three and finished in the top eight in the competition out of 72 total competitors. Huske took third place in a fact-based event, the NetSuite Challenge.

“Competing at ICSC was an incredible experience that taught me so much about adjusting my selling techniques to effectively communicate with buyers both in-person and via Skype,” Murrieta said. “I truly enjoyed my time at FSU and will be sure to use what I learned when I begin a job at 3M in January.”

ProSales students in the Advanced Sales class traveled to the Midwest on Oct. 25-27 to compete in Indiana University’s National Team Selling Competition on the Bloomington campus. This competition, unlike other individual competitions in the circuit, is a team-based approach to the sales challenge. The 16 students in the course teamed up in groups of four and participated in a pre-NTSC, in-class competition to determine which team represented Baylor at the NTSC.

Baylor’s team, which was sponsored by CA Technologies, featured Pierce Miner, Austin Roberson, Grant Senter and Chris Workman. The other 12 students in the class attended, as well, to gain experience from observing the competition and by helping their colleagues prepare for each round. First and second place finishers were the University of Washington and University of Toledo sales teams. Baylor’s team placed third overall out of 21 teams, finishing ahead of Indiana University (fourth place) and Michigan State University (fifth place).

The 2012-2013 ProSales competition circuit continues throughout the fall and into the spring.