Students at Baylor’s Center for Professional Selling engage in a day-long sell-off competition

By Eric Vining Lariat Reporter

Students at Baylor University’s Center for Professional Selling converged at the Foster Campus for Business & Innovation Friday for a day-long sell-off competition.

The annual in-house competition challenges those majoring in Professional Selling at Baylor by placing them in a mock sales meeting with a company executive playing the role of a company CEO.

“In this scenario, the students work for ADP, so in payroll management,” said Mickey Hess, a member of the Center for Professional Selling’s Ambassador Board and one of the competition’s six executives. “I’m the CEO of a tabletop manufacturer who uses a competitor’s product. They want to – show me the benefits of their product and convince me to switch to ADP. We’re given the scenario, and then they have to try to accomplish their goal of getting a follow-up meeting.”

However, students not only had to convince executives to buy ADP’s product, but also prove that the company’s services, such as their customer service, was superior to their competitor’s.

“My scenario is that my product is working fine, but the service I’m getting is not acceptable,” Hess said. “When I had an issue it took a long time to get resolved. So, the service – the support – was our concern, and the goal of the meeting was to see if they can overcome those concerns with their product.”

To make the sales scenario more interesting, students also face buyers with a wide range of simulated personality traits.

“We all get the same script. The only difference in it are the variations with what kind of characteristic the buyer is going to take on,” said Houston junior Catherine Sullivan. “Every executive – has a different character trait; they’ll be more agreeable, or want to fight with you.”

Much like in speech, debate and other similar events, students must develop complex strategies in order to come out on top.

“You have to get in there and feel it out,” said Scottsdale, Ariz. sophomore Tom Graunke, Jr. “You have to feel it out from the initial conversations and probe some questions to see what [executives] are going to give you and what they’re not. And from there you establish it.”

“This is so different than anything I’ve done before,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely something where no one really knows what to expect when they walk in the first time. It’s a very exciting experience.”

Though designed as a sales competition, the sell-off is also designed to be a learning experience for students.

“As [students] are exposed to the scenario, we use our experiences or ask them questions to help them learn and listen to the customer,” Hess said.

Graunke pointed out, however, that the skills students receive at the sell-off are not just for the boardroom, but can easily be applied to real-life scenarios as well.

“Selling is used for the rest of your life, regardless of what it is you’re doing,” Graunke said. “Whether you’re buying a new car or making a sale for your company, sales is always used. The experience we just got is going to be exactly what it’s like in the real world when you’re truly pitching. It’s fun to be able to take on a scenario of, ‘This is your company and this is what you want to do,’ and be able to feel it out.”

Besides the Center for Professional Selling’s annual in-house sell-off competition, students are also required to attend at least one other external competition each academic year, a Top Gun Training each semester and work alongside mentors to further develop their skills.

“It’s more than a major – it really is a program – there’s really a lot of comradery. There’s a lot of helping out each other – we all call ourselves a little pro-sales family,” Sullivan said.