A Pamplin College of Business student team comprising Kristina Kelly of Vinton, a senior who is double majoring in marketing and hospitality management, and Nick Wells of Danville, a senior who is double majoring in marketing and finance, took first place at the recent National Sales Challenge, organized by the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales at William Paterson University.

In addition to the first-place team award, Kelly took first place in the overall individual competition and second place in the speed-selling contest, one of the sales challenge’s two events.

“This is a fantastic accomplishment for our students, for our department, and for our fledgling sales program,” said Richard Buehrer, a visiting professor of marketing, who is leading the marketing department’s efforts in developing a sales track. The marketing department currently offers three sales courses — Buyer/Seller Relationships, Personal Selling, and Sales Management — and a sales practicum, he said, and hopes to establish a minor in professional sales.

Students from 29 universities participated in the challenge, which seeks to promote the sales profession by giving students an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and capabilities and meet sales professionals and executives from major corporations.

The competition’s first event is a 15-minute sales call role-play with a business executive. The event is evaluated on the student’s approach and overall communication effectiveness, as well as the ability to gather and provide information, identify needs, resolve concerns, and gain a commitment.

In the second event, students create a two-minute sales pitch about themselves, then meet individually with a series of six different executives to make the pitch for their hiring.

Awards are given to the top three individuals in each of the two events, Buehrer said, as well as to the top three overall individual competitors and the overall team winner.

In addition to gaining valuable feedback on their sales abilities from professionals in the field, he said, students attending the sales challenge also get to network with executives from a range of companies seeking to hire.



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