Professionals prepare students

Feb. 5, 2014

By Rumasa Noor

Many people work in sales at one point or another. Sales jobs may not always be taken seriously, but they teach some important skills such as interpersonal skills,  communication skills and the ability to present yourself in a professional manner

UW-Whitewater’s Insitute for Sales Excellence is holding the second-annual All-Campus Sales Competition, in which students will get to meet sales professionals posing as clients. The event is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual, which will provide prizes for competition winners.

The idea behind this competition is to get students the experience of dealing with clients in real life. Shannon Cummins, professor of marketing and director  of the university Sales Institute, is the organizer of this event.

“It’s really a competition about how you can connect with people you are talking with, how good questions you can ask and find out good answers,” Cummins said.

The competition has a total of four rounds.

“Any student on campus is more than welcome to register online and participate in those first two rounds,” Cummins said. “Both of those rounds are conducted over the phone, so you don’t need to go anywhere special, you don’t need to dress up, and we provide all the information online.”

Cummins said the first round requires the contestants to leave a voice message for the prospect. There will be a script available online, and everyone will read from the same script.

In the second round, contestants call the prospect, and this time they pick up the phone. The contestant has to try to convince the prospect to meet with them in person and set up an imaginary time to meet with them.

“At the end of the first two rounds, I compile all of the scores from round one and round two,” Cummins said. “We also ran round one and round two in the fall semester, and so anybody who participated in the fall semester is more than welcome to participate in the spring semester.”

Cummins said the top scorers from fall and spring will be invited to participate in the third round. There also will be kick-off meetings that will take place between the preliminary rounds and the final rounds.

“Round three is the first in-person meeting, so in round three you actually sit down, you meet with the person that you have theoretically spoken to over the phone,” Cummins said.

Cummins said that they have a fact-finder online that students will use to get more information about the client for the third round. The contestants will use  the information to create short-term and long-term financial goals.

The fourth round also is similar to the third round; contestants meet with the same person that they have met in round three and make recommendations to them based on what they have learned about the prospect.

Cummins also said training is provided for rounds three and four.

“The first two rounds are really easy, very low barriered entry, anybody could do them, you don’t need any training,” Cummins said. “If you could make it to the third and fourth round, we provide training, and we will provide everything you need and we will provide you with sample videos and all of that will be available online to you.”

The competition offers $3,000 worth of prize money; the first prize winner gets $1,000. Around 100 students participated in this competition last year.

This competition is open to all students regardless of their standing and majors. The finals will take place on April 18.

Marketing major Kimberly Karnitz is one of the students who will participate in this competition. She also participated in the First Annual Sales Competition on campus and made it to the final rounds.

“I am hoping to make it to the finals again, so I am really excited about that,” Karnitz said.

Karnitz also has participated in other sales competitions, one of them was offered by the American Marketing Association. She also will participate in another sales competition in Georgia.

Senior Daniel Strandt also will participate in this competition. Strandt also competed last time in the First Annual Sales Competition at UW-W.

“I think the competition helps students overcome their fear of presenting to clients, especially someone they have never met before, also getting out there and talking and getting to know someone,” Strandt said.

Strandt said one of the best things about the last competition was he got a chance to see what it’s like to deal with clients in real life.

“The best part of the competition was meeting with these professionals sales who act as clients and learning that you are good at what you do,” Strandt said.

The competition is intended to teach students professional and interpersonal skills.

“If you are able to carry yourself in a professional manner and exude trust so the person you are talking with trusts you to help them make these decisions,” Cummins said. “No matter whether or not you are going into a sales job or a non-sales job, you end up using aspects of sales.”

The registration started on Feb 3 and it will close on Feb 14. Students can register online by going on this website http://www.uww.edu/cobe/sales/competition.

“It [website] has a fact-finder, it has a suggestion, voice message script that students are encouraged to customize to their own desire, personality, and it also has a link to the registration,” Cummins said.

Cummins also encouraged students to stop by her office or email her at [email protected] if they have any questions.

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