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Sell-off promotes confidence

Nov. 19, 2010

By Wakeelah Crutison
Copy Editor

Students showcased their sales skills at the Baylor Business Sell Off on Thursday.

The competition serves as skill development for students, said Andrea Dixon, director of the center for professional selling.

"It's an opportunity to take the knowledge and skills they acquire in class and bring it to life," Dixon said.

In the role-play competition, representatives posed as buyers to whom the students have to sell computer software.

Before the competition, students were given a scenario with a product to sell and a prospective buyer, "Smith," owner of Sgt. Pepper's Hot Air Balloons.

Twenty-five students role-played with 12 businesses from around the Waco area.

Students entered one of three rooms to greet their awaiting buyer and make their sales pitch in front of a video camera.

"Having their sales pitch on video can help them with self-assessment and also serve as a physical example of their selling skills in their online portfolios for corporate executives," Dixon said.

Judges view the videos and the top five students receive cash prizes, with the top student receiving $1,000, according to the Professional Selling website.

All top five students will compete in the second round of the competition in February, in which the top two students earn an opportunity to participate in the National Collegiate Sells Competition in March.

The judges evaluate students on how well they build rapport with the buyer, how they address the buyer's needs, how well the students overcome the buyer's concerns and how they close the sale.

Austin senior Dave Games and Dallas junior Sam Turtletaub, competitors on Baylor's professional selling team, brought experience to Thursday's sell-off.

The competition teaches students how to maintain relationships with customers, Games said. Games and his team members earned fourth place in the Indiana University National Team Selling Competition in October.

"It's a great way to network and meet people in companies," he said, "and they can give you instant feedback on what you need to improve on and what you're doing that's good."

Turtletaub took first, second and third place in three events on Nov. 11 at the World Collegiate Sales Open, and he and his team took first place at the Indiana University National Team Selling Competition. He said he knew he wanted to be in business so he could interact with people.

"I just want to talk to and make connections with as many people as I can," Turtletaub said. "It's not just selling; it's showing people why they need a product instead of trying to sell it to them."

Turtletaub said the most difficult part of competing is remaining focused on the main goal: the people, not the product.

"Selling's about the customer and showing why they need something," Turtletaub said. "Some salesmen get caught up in the product and showing all of its benefits, and they forget to focus on the customer."

Turtletaub said the Center for Professional Selling has been around for 25 years and benefits the students.

"You get to be involved and network with people from other companies," Turtletaub said. "You get a lot of interaction. It's more like real life and not like typical school."

Steven Bell, MBA graduate student, helped with the competition by setting up the website orienting students during the competition.

"It's a great way for students to get real-world experience in a live setting," Bell said.

Most people graduate and go into some form of sales.

"It can go into any industry; every company needs to sell themselves and their products," Games said

Turtletaub said the real-world experience of participating in the sell-off makes finding a job much easier because it helps students know what to expect.

"It takes real life and a lot of hard work to prepare. Strong presentations take a lot more work and practice," Dixon said. "It looks easier than it is, and they see how much work it really takes."