Real World Experiences for National Sales Challenge Competitors

By Michael Hill

High-fiving Caroline Crabtree – minutes after learning she was a finalist in a national speed-sales and sales role-playing competition at William Paterson University, “you don’t know really what to expect coming out of these things because it’s really subjective. But, I’m definitely excited.”

This is the 9th year of the National Sales Challenge at William Paterson University. While it’s a competition, it aims to give students a real world experience.

Seamark Shoji, Dean, Cotsakos College Of Business, William Paterson University said, “we want to make sure they first of all learn from each other and feel that they’re really competing in a real world environment.”

In soundproof rooms with cameras recording, the sales majors had to apply their skills. They come from 36 colleges across the United States and across the sea.

The judges include executives from corporate America such as DHL’s new CEO for the U.S., Greg Hewitt, “I love competitions that get the best of the best and let us see who’s the next shining star is.”

What did you say to Greg to get him to come here?

“Please?” Victoria Reyes sold Hewitt on judging the competition. She shares her story of the benefits of networking here to get a job, launch a career – it could start with an internship and learning the ropes as she did at DHL, “there’s that you learn the book theories and you learn what we’re supposed to do and you study as much as you physically can and then when you get in to the real world you realize it doesn’t always as smoothly as a textbook does and that was really great for me to kind of be able to learn how to adapt in that way.”

Annamaria Havrillova competed in this challenge two years ago before graduation. “It’s not only about competing but getting the skills to network and create these relationships with people who come and attend these.”

The Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales at the school organized this 3-day competition.

Prabhakar Kothandraraman, the Executive Director for The Russ Berrie Institute For Professional Sales said, “nobody wants to call themselves sales people and there’s a lot of social stigma and there’s no turning from that. Despite all that, these students have stuck the flag in the ground and said I’m going to become a sales person and that’s my professional career and I am proud of them and they also have gotten out and worked for it. Sales is one of those disciplines where you can not just show up, get your grades and go and you’ve got to go to a lot more other things in terms of immersing yourself in the discipline. So, it’s really a proud moment.”

A moment to show what you have and how what you have can become a game changer.

Erin Grogan, finalist from Sienna College reacted, “I think it’s really to be kind of confident in yourself and know skills you bring to the table no matter where you’re from.”

Dean Seamark Shoji concluded, “many of them leave with an internship offer if not a full time offer.”

A competition for some, a career launcher for others.