This Friday and Saturday, the NIU College of Business will play host to the World Collegiate Sales Open. The event will attract students from as far away as Scotland to participate in a series of tests to challenge their sales skills. The competition will draw 20 students from eight business schools, each of which offers a program, or at least classes, to prepare students for careers in business-to-business sales.
Throughout the event, students will be asked to demonstrate skills essential to success in the world of professional sales. Grading their performance will be professional salespeople who rely on those talents every day.
“Most other competitions are based solely on a sales call role play. We think our version better reflects all that a salesman has to do,” Weilbaker says. “Certainly it’s important to do well during the sales call, but if you can’t get an appointment, it doesn’t matter.”
To test those other skills, the first day of the competition includes a telephone and e-mail challenge, both of which are essential to securing a meeting with a client.
Later, contestants will be asked to make an elevator pitch, presenting themselves and their product in the best possible light during the 16-story ride from the main floor of the Holmes Student Center to the Sky Room at the top.
The hardcore selling will take place during one-on-one role plays of a sales call with a potential customer.
The first day also will feature a “reverse job fair,” where students will create table displays to attract would-be employers, whom they will try to persuade to hire them. The performance of students during the event will factor into their scores.
Day Two of the event will include a follow up meeting role-play, after which judges will cull the field to four finalists who will get an opportunity to close the sale in a third round meeting during the afternoon. Those sessions will be broadcast live for other contestants to observe.
A winner will be announced during a Saturday evening awards banquet. Seminars and other sales-related activities round out the competition.
Schools with students competing include NIU, Ball State, Baylor University, Elon University, Indiana University, University of Louisville, University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and the University of Toledo.