Students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Center for Sales Excellence (CSE) learn to sell their ideas, products and services to anyone. While pursuing certificates in sales excellence, they tested their skills at three competitions by role-playing with employers.
“In any career, you need to communicate effectively to sell your ideas and influence others. Students in our certificate in sales excellence program learn the skills needed to pitch their ideas, enhance their communication skills, sell themselves to employers and lead the future of business,” said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance.
Named a Top University for Professional Sales Education by the Sales Education Foundation since 2015, the CSE provides students with opportunities to hone their skills through role-playing competitions.
“Role-plays provide students with the experience of meeting with a business professional to sell an idea, product or service. The role-play setting enhances student professionalism, confidence, business acumen, and verbal and non-verbal communication skills,” said Ravi Sohi, Department Chair and Professor of Marketing, Robert D. Hays Distinguished Chair of Sales Excellence and Executive Director of the Center for Sales Excellence.
Stuckwisch Places First at Twin Cities Collegiate Sales Team Championship
Anna Stuckwisch of Omaha, Nebraska, earned a first-place finish at the Twin Cities Collegiate Sales Team Championship, March 23-25, for her elevator pitch. Hosted by the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and held virtually, the competition consisted of three role-play rounds and an individual elevator pitch competition.
Six Nebraska students competed as a team against 16 universities. They placed sixth out of 13 in the role-play competition and fourth overall. Members of the team included seniors Jennifer Johnson, management and marketing major from Elkhorn, Nebraska; Jordan Kuhn, marketing major from Scottsdale, Arizona; Jayden Long, supply chain management major from Omaha, Nebraska; Taryn Mayfield, marketing major from Grand Island, Nebraska; and Stuckwisch; as well as junior Collin Summers, business administration major from Lincoln. Chad Mardesen, associate professor of practice in marketing, served as faculty advisor.
Sales Team Takes Second at King’s Hawaiian Sales Competition in Kansas
Four Nebraska students placed second and won $2,000 at the national King’s Hawaiian Sales Competition, April 8-9. Hosted by the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, the event consists of a speed selling and team case study competition. Competing against 12 teams, Nebraska earned second place in the role-play competition.
“Each team represented its school incredibly well by applying their classroom learnings to the real-life scenario, and their performances were fantastic," said Zach Vitztum, director of sales and retail operations for King’s Hawaiian.
The Nebraska team included: Valerie Bohuslavsky, senior agribusiness major from David City, Nebraska; Morgan Perez, junior marketing and management major from Lincoln; Camden Roncka, senior accounting major from Elkhorn; and Bryson Wood, junior marketing major from Omaha. Robin Garewal, assistant professor of practice in marketing, served as faculty advisor. Past giving from the center's supporters covered their travel expenses to compete.
“We are thankful for the generous donations from the Nebraska alumni and our partner companies. Their financial support is critical in providing these professional development opportunities for the Nebraska sales students,” said Blake Runnalls, assistant professor of marketing.
Six Huskers Win Scholarships at Center's Role-Play Competition
The Center for Sales Excellence hosted its first in-person Team Role-Play Competition at Howard L. Hawks Hall, April 15. Sponsored by Balto, a real-time guidance platform for contact centers, the event pitted teams of Nebraska students against one another in a tournament-style pitch-off to business professionals for the chance to win a $3,000 scholarship.
“As sales organizations continue to adopt a team selling approach, we designed the competition around a team role-play. In the competition, students were required to learn the ins and outs of a real-time sales enablement coaching tool that relies on artificial intelligence to improve customer contact experiences. They also needed to understand their team dynamics to deliver a cohesive role-play,” Runnalls said.
Thirty-two students across 14 teams role-played as Balto sales development representatives. Provided with product information, case studies and customer insights to better understand the industry, the students then crafted pitch decks to represent Balto’s brand and solutions.
Since students at the Nebraska CSE learn to probe to uncover the needs of the customer and overcome objections, the judges were encouraged to make competitors work for the sale by providing objections and not divulging too much information outright.
“We were thrilled to finally bring students and business professionals together again to enhance the learning and development opportunities for our sales students,” said Runnalls.
Students earned points for building rapport, listening, enthusiasm, effective communication, professionalism and the ability to get a commitment to meet with the boss as the next step in the sales process.
“All the teams did an amazing job,” said Dan Templeton, vice president of sales at Balto. “I was blown away by their product knowledge, handling of objections and poise. We didn’t go easy on them. They came prepared and are positioned well to enter today’s sales workforce.”
Bohuslavsky and Kuhn, captured first place and the $3,000 scholarship. Roncka and Wood received second place and a $2,250 scholarship, and Jamie Jensen, senior economics major from Omaha, and Stuckwisch got third place and a $1,500 scholarship.
Also competing were Jackson Anderson, junior management major from Prospect, Kentucky; Griffin Barrett, junior marketing major from Fremont, Nebraska; Hunter Bergman, senior marketing major from Lincoln; Ryan Doyle, senior marketing and finance major from Omaha; Jarod Fox, junior management from Grand Island; Kylie Gall, junior marketing major from Norfolk, Nebraska; Matt Ginting, senior finance major from Lincoln; Jacqueline Graves, junior marketing major from Maple Grove, Minnesota; Tavish Hestermann, senior marketing major from Adams, Nebraska; Quinn Huppert, sophomore supply chain management major from Woodbury, Minnesota; Johnson; Nathan Martin, junior marketing major from Cold Spring, Minnesota; Enrique Martinez, junior business administration from Lincoln; Alex Massey, junior marketing major from Omaha; Mark Mausbach, junior marketing major from Omaha; Christian Parrish, senior business administration major from Indianapolis; Jack Patzner, junior management major from LaVista; Max Simone, junior business administration major from Omaha; Gerardo Soto, ’19 management graduate and senior economics major from Columbus; Summers; Eli Waring, junior finance major from Lincoln; Riley Wood, senior marketing major from Aliso Viejo, California; Elli Young, junior marketing and management major from Omaha; Mercedes Zimmerman, senior marketing major from Beatrice; and Brandon Zohlen, management and marketing major from Omaha.
“We would like to thank Balto for providing the sponsor product for the event. In addition, we would like to thank Balto Founder and CEO Marc Bernstein for taking the time to meet virtually with the attendees. Also, a big thanks to Lior Torenberg, senior creative solutions manager, and Dan Templeton, vice president of sales, for working with us to create the role-place scenario and providing feedback in real-time to the three finalist teams,” Runnalls said.
To learn more about the Center for Sales Excellence, visit: https://business.unl.edu/salescenter. For more information about the sales certificate, go to: https://business.unl.edu/salescertificate.