Through BU Sales Contest, students learn to sell themselves

BU Sales Contest winners Natalie Morton (front row, left) and Dan Kuhne (back row, second from left) will compete in the National Collegiate Sales Competition in March. Alternates are (from left) John Romanelli, Robert Stanley, and Brittany Takata. Professor Jason Garrett (far right) is the team's advisor.

February 21, 2011

You enter into a room. Cameras are capturing your every move, and viewers are judging you. This is no “Big Brother;” it’s the Bradley University Sales Contest.

Natalie Morton and Dan Kahne won the annual competition last December. The senior marketing majors had 20 minutes to sell their product to a mock client. The whole time, business professionals were judging from another room. The students were scored on how well they could identify the buyer’s needs and market their product to meet those desires.

With the win, Morton and Kahne secured a berth at the National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) to be held this March in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It is always a rush when you are selling a product to a buyer that you don't know,” Morton said. “We do many of these mock sales meetings in our regular classes, but this one puts on a little added pressure,” Kahne said. “A popular saying in sales is, ‘If you’re not nervous, you're dead.’”

This will be Kahne’s second time competing on the NCSC team.

“I was elated when I saw that I was one of the winners,” Kahne said. “I have been planning and preparing for the competition for almost a year, and using the knowledge I gained from my previous experience on the team, I was able to accomplish my goal.”

Dr. Jason Garrett, assistant professor of marketing, coaches Bradley’s team three days each week by reviewing videos of previous contestants, meticulously evaluating game plans and practicing different scenarios. Morton and Kahne are joined by team members Rob Stanley, Brittany Takata, and John Romanelli.

Last year, Bradley’s team finished sixth at the NCSC, which is a testament to the University’s sales instruction. Bradley won the NCSC in 2006, and no other school has had more top six finishes over the past six years.

Bradley’s professional sales program sets it apart among business schools. According to the University Sales Education Foundation, only 48 universities in America offer professional sales programs.  Among these, Bradley is differentiated by being one of only 14 schools that meet the criteria for full membership in the University Sales Center Alliance – the principal organization for advancing the sales profession through academic leadership: education, research, and outreach.

“The sales program has been a great experience,” Morton said. “The BU Competition was great because in interviews, I can bring it up to future employers and they love to hear about it.”

Kahne also noted the value of Bradley’s program when it comes to selling himself to potential employers. 

“This experience has not only boosted my self-confidence as a salesperson, but has also helped me become a wanted asset among employers,” Kahne said.  “With the extremely competitive nature of the sales job market, anything that you can do to set yourself apart and show your skills is extremely valuable.”

As of January 2011, prospective May graduates that majored in sales averaged nearly three job offers in hand.