The Professional Sales Forum at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business brought together sales talent with representatives from companies around the nation in early April. Company representatives served as judges in a competition, witnessing students’ sales talents first-hand.
Meghan Griffin, a junior marketing major, and Abby Panter, a junior business analytics major, won first place in the sales competition.
Keynote speaker Brennan Matthews (EMBA-SL, ’16) of Lutron Electronics in Atlanta said that he seeks to hire students for their creativity and fresh ideas. However, he said, managers must have the courage to “give them some space to do what they are best at.”
“When I recruit at Haslam, I’m looking for people who are comfortable if I need them to switch tasks from one week to the next,” Matthews told students. “They should have a creative mindset and the drive to succeed at new tasks, even when the overall objective isn’t immediately clear to them.”
Matthews also gave students three tips for sales success: Answer the phone, do what you’ll say you do and remember that innovation isn’t just for institutions.
Fifty-nine students participated in the sales competition portion of the forum, forming teams of two and acting as sales representatives for Enterprise Holdings Company. In the role play, the teams had 20 minutes to convince a buyer to sign a three-year, $1 million contract using real business data provided by Enterprise.
For Tom Van Dorselaer, executive director of the Professional Sales Forum, the event represented an exciting opportunity to bring together a diverse set of sales vocations. Topics ranged from sales leadership to recruiting women and millennials, to sales persistence and corporate social responsibility.
“The Professional Sales Forum continues its unprecedented growth as the best opportunity for sales talent to train and our sponsor companies to enjoy a first-hand experience with the polish and professionalism our students offer,” Van Dorselaer said. “We had phenomenal student teams and an excellent set of judges this semester and are looking forward to the fall as our teams just keep getting better and better. Our forum is delivering on our promise to bring the best and brightest talent together with our world class sponsors across a diverse set of industries.”
Dan Flint, Regal Entertainment Group Professor in the Department of Marketing, said sales competitions are crucial for student exposure and recruiter engagement.
“This is as close as it gets for students to test their skills and demonstrate them to firms that are hiring,” Flint said. “Combining this and other events with Professional Sales Forum sponsors is an integral way to better serve students and hiring firms alike. This spring’s event was a wonderful success, but the proof will really come when students close deals for jobs with these firms.”
Additional awards in the sales competition included:
- 2nd Place: Andrew (Drew) Arnett and Drew Driscoll
- 3rd Place: Stephen Oliver
- Champion Style Creativity: Phebe Peake and Haley Rust
- Dynamic Deal Closer: Allison Herring and Ariana Macioce
- Incredible Needs Identification: Gary (Paul) Hopson
- Outstanding Objection Handling: Zack Beeler and Spencer Chamberlain
Representatives from 23 companies served as judges, buyers and observers.