This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a sales competition for the AMA regional conference in Whitewater, Wisconsin. I learned a lot about myself and my education in the process and feel compelled to share it with you all by way of this post. But first, I should preface that with some information about the conference!
The conference played host to phenomenal guest speakers and numerous networking opportunities. What I really went for, however, was the sales competition.The competition had two rounds. The first was an appointment call where we played the role of a sales rep for College Pro Painters (the sponsor of the competition). On our call we were to speak with the owner of an event planning company who had submitted an estimate request online.
My call went very well and my judges gave excellent feedback. My approach on the call felt so fluid. I worked through objections, built solid rapport, and made the appointment to meet face to face with my prospect. I had a quiet confidence about me in the role play and my judges reinforced this in their comments following my call. It was very odd to hear such positive feedback, however, because up to this point my experiences in sales usually come up short of a “win”; especially in the NIU sales program. I am bruised and bloodied in the sales track here but my goodness I’m proud to take the hits if this level of performance is the outcome.
I saw people from other schools walk out of the role play rooms complaining how the objections they received didn’t match the ones they expected based on their preparation. I couldn’t help but laugh. I have been groomed to expect the unexpected and with only an hour or so worth of preparation I was able to field any and all objections that were thrown at me. I have been trained to think outside the box and understand the needs of the customer. I know to listen before I speak and I understand that if a buyer has a problem that you NEED be the solution in order to make the sale.
Most people that know me well understand that I maintain an extreme and sometimes unhealthy level of modesty. I must deviate from that on this post to help you understand how incredible our sales program is. When it came time for results to be posted from round 1, I didn’t even feel the need to look. I already knew I moved on. I walked out of that room knowing that I nailed the call. The only reason I even went to see the results sheet that they posted in the hall was to see what time my second round face to face appointment with the prospect was. It was scheduled a few hours away and I needed to begin preparing.
I prepared until my scheduled time and walked into the room with confidence. In this final round, I was meeting face to face with the business owner to close a deal to paint his business. I used tools I had learned from professors here at NIU and I credit them alone to how well my entire experience at this regional conference went. I felt like a sales “monster” in that final role play. Not a single thing went wrong. My judges were spellbound and had nothing to say when I invited them to give any constructive criticism. They looked to each other and simply shook their heads. They said they loved my process. They said it was clean, consistent, and focused on the needs of the customer. I believe that the judges thought the same about our other students who participated because the NIU AMA chapter ended up taking home two runner up prizes and one first place (which I’m proud to have accepted on behalf of our NIU chapter and the NIU College of Business).
I’ve gone through so much rejection, had so many missteps in MKTG 450 (the highest level sales course at NIU) but all the mistakes have been worth something. It finally hit me at the competition, just how much I’ve learned in the past nine weeks. The value of participating in MKTG 450 is undeniable. It is no wonder why I hear recruiters consistently say that 450 alum are a cut above. Up to this point I haven’t had anything to validate these claims and the competition really just opened my eyes. When a single school takes home half of the cash prizes (each winner was a MKTG 450 student), there is something to be said about that schools program and its attention to detail. I am sure that I’m not alone in my thinking and other 450 students and alum can attest to the growth they’ve seen in themselves; both personally and professionally based on their experience in Advanced Professional Sales.
I feel that it is appropriate within the context of this blog post to take a moment to thank Dr. Weilbaker, the founder of our sales track here at NIU, for his exceptional work in making this program the powerhouse it is today. I am certainly not alone in saying that I appreciate what he’s done. Thank you for your years of service to this institution. We wish you nothing but the best when this semester reaches its end. 2.0out