Each semester, students from the NIU Sales Center participate in numerous national sales competitions where they have the unique opportunity to compete against other universities on a national level and apply classroom theory in a real-world selling scenario. Collegiate sales competitions provide an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in pursuing a career in professional sales to develop their communication and presentation skills in a highly competitive environment. Additionally, students network with recruiters and collegiate peers from across North America.
This semester nine students, three student coaches and three NIU Professional Sales Advisory Board industry coaches competed in three university sales competitions.
- University of South Florida—100 students from 21 different universities.
- Florida International University—40 students from 20 universities.
- University of Minnesota —120 students from 20 universities.
The NIU team for the USF competition included Samantha Pinnock, Erin Bradford (pictured above), Jacqueline Ponzetti, and Jake Hamilton (pictured above). The competition included “Running with the Bulls,” a virtual sales competition hosted by the University of South Florida. For that competition, Erin and Jake placed in the top 5 nationally.
Together with their coaches Haley Mareno (UPS) and Paula Veyhle (student coach-May 2021), the team invested two weeks preparing for the competition through role playing and strategy sessions. The students enhanced their prospecting, discovery, and sales skills tremendously by receiving feedback from the coaches and practicing with each other.
“Since being in the Sales Program at NIU, I’ve always been told that you have to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Samantha Pinnock recalls, “but I never truly understood this concept until being coached by Haley and Paula for the USF Sales Competition. Our team met Monday through Thursday for three hours, practicing what we’d been assigned to prepare the night prior to the meeting. This was a great experience of what it truly meant to be uncomfortable because there were times I felt unprepared…this really taught me how to acknowledge the uncomfortably, embrace it, and hold myself accountable.”
NIU’s team for the FIU competition included Michael Yurkiv and Wilson Ramirez with coaches Diego Ascencio, Sherwin Williams, and Emily Hanover (May 2021, student coach). This Global Bilingual Sales Competition required outstanding Spanish and English skills in both an elevator pitch and a two-part sales call. Competitors were judged by industry professionals eager to network with bilingual students.
NIU was represented at the University of Minnesota’s Twins City Collegiate Sales Challenge by Samantha Pinnock, Erin Bradford, Chloe Chadwick, Wilson Ramirez and Jacqueline Ponzetti. Student coach Grace Villella (May 2021) and Dan Crane, Monica Hynes and Mark Whitlock from Creeden.
written by Charles Howlett, Director, NIU Professional Sales Program; posted by M. De Jean, Director of Marketing, NIU Business