Professional sales students from 30 universities across the United States came to the University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation on February 24 & 25 to compete in the second annual University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition (UTISC).
When the competition was over and all scoring sheets tallied, the team from the COBI Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales (ESSPS) - - which presented the event - - won the competition!
“Last year at the UTISC, our University of Toledo team did really great job; we were in the top ten, both of our students made it to the semifinals, and that was really exciting,” explained Deirdre Jones, ESSPS Director. “Our team this year did a great job helping each other to prepare. It was truly a team-based effort. We had great faculty coaches, and this year we won! It was fantastic, a great moment. The results between first, second and third we all very tight, but not only did our team of Taylor Busse and Jovan Sanson win, but Busse took first place in tjunior division, and Sanson finished 4th in the sophomore/freshman division. Really proud of their efforts and how they represented the University of Toledo.”
“It’s really rewarding to win the UTISC,” said team coach Dr. Ellen Pullins, Schmidt Research Professor of Sales & Sales Management and COBI Professor of Marketing. “We’ve got a long history of wins and top 10 finishes at other national competitions over a decade, so we really wanted to bring everything we have to our own venue, and we did! It is even more exciting to win when the team is surrounded by colleagues and friends! I really think they were the 12th man.”
“We started preparing for the competition about a month ahead of time. We’ve seen in our success at other competitions that the real key is to coach students in an adaptive sales process that will work regardless of what situations they encounter. This is really the heart of the ESSPS curriculum that makes us so successful with recruiters as well as at a variety of different national competitions,” Pullins added.
Jones explained that ““We are the nation’s first and only national sales competition to focus exclusively on the non-senior. All of our competitors are freshmen, sophomores and juniors.”
“I kept getting phone calls from organizations asking me about who our top seniors were and if they could talk to them, and I had to keep telling them that they were already placed. I want to make sure that we can continue to be in a position to help the business community and also help universities across the country grow sales program enrollments, because we all need to grow to keep up with corporate demand.”
Jones added, “These younger students go back and have a year or more before graduation, they tell their peers about how much fun it was, what they learned and the great companies they met. It’s great for the companies because one hundred percent of all the students they meet at the national sales competition are hirable. If they are spending their time, talent and treasure to come out, we want to make sure they get a return on that.”
Sponsors included 3M, Owens Corning, Quicken Loans, Schindler Elevator Corporation, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Hilti and Proctor and Gamble.
Jones said, “The best part of the UTISCF for universities is just knowing how absolutely bright the future is for sales talent. It’s really rewarding to see the students perform well. I and my colleagues love what we do, we’re really passionate about it, knowing that we are impacting things now and decades from now, because these are the sales professionals of the future. Our vision is developing the world’s future sales leaders, one student at a time, and I can’t think of a better way that we can accomplish this than with the UTISC.”
Participating universities included Baylor, Florida State University, Ball State, Oregon State, Temple and Indiana.
“I think what encourages the undergraduate sales students is that they are finally getting a taste of the real world,” Jones said. “For them to see buyers who are real world professionals to come in and role play with the students. They are able to build competence and confidence in what they are doing, and I think that is very addicting and reassuring for a lot of them that this is something that they enjoy doing and something they are going to be good at doing.”
Growth is on the horizon for this invitational event. “We’ve had a wait list every single year we have done the competition, and next year we are going to expand to 36 universities,” Jones said.