Sales Leadership Center sweeps awards at inaugural sales competition

Cal State Fullerton held its first Titan Sales Competition, hosted by CSUF’s Sales Leadership Center, offering business students a chance to put their sales and teamwork skills to the test for the chance to win over $1,000 in scholarship money. (Patton Tran / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton held its first Titan Sales Competition, hosted by CSUF’s Sales Leadership Center, offering business students a chance to put their sales and teamwork skills to the test for the chance to win over $1,000 in scholarship money. (Patton Tran / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton’s Sales Leadership Center (SLC) held its first Titan Sales Competition Friday, and the team representing the center took top honors.

The competition kicked off at 9 a.m. with 22 students, comprising seven teams acting as sales representatives from Nationwide Financial and UPS.

The competitors put their persuasive skills and business acumen to the test in two mock sales pitches they delivered to judges. Each student was sent into a room with a person acting as a client, such as a faculty member or professor. Students made pitches for Nationwide in the morning and worked with UPS in the afternoon.

Each room had a camera broadcasting the video in separate lecture rooms. In the lecture rooms, four to five judges viewed students’ sales pitches live and graded their performance.

The judges were representatives of the event’s corporate sponsors, including Nationwide, UPS, Stanley, Black and Decker, Nestlé and PepsiCo.

The grading was as follows: 5 percent for approach, 25 percent for needs identification, 25 percent for presentation, 15 percent for overcoming objections, 10 percent for close and 20 percent for overall presentation.

Mark Mantey, co-director of the Sales Leadership Center, orchestrated the competition.

Mantey said the evaluation percentages emulate other sales competitions in the Midwest and East Coast in order to keep things consistent with what companies are accustomed to.

The SLC created the competition to teach students to present sales pitches more effectively.

The center prepared students by giving them background on the companies involved in the competition. In late October, Nationwide and UPS sent representatives to show students how to sell their products. Students formed teams to prepare pitches as representatives of each firm.

The competition consisted of seven teams. The first-place team would have their names engraved on a prestigious trophy on display in the Sale Leadership Center. Students could also win individual awards. Winning first place earns a $1,500 scholarship, winning second place earns $1,000 and winning third-place earns $500.

The students are tested by two different types of pitches. The first was for Nationwide, in which students wanted to establish a partnership as a broker in finance. Working with UPS entailed making an agreement in distribution services.

Marketing professor Christopher Anicich acted as one of the buyers who would meet with students to hear their pitches.

“There are not a lot of schools that have any sales focus of any kind,” he said concerning smaller sales competitions that more students can participate in.

Anicich said because half the jobs in business are sales jobs, it is important to encourage students to compete in events like the Titan Sales Competition.

Mark Hiltz, vice president of internal sales and service for Nationwide, came to CSUF as a judge for the competition.

“We are looking at Cal State Fullerton as an opportunity to find great future employees for Nationwide,” Hiltz said.

Nationwide is a Fortune 500 company that provides personal and commercial property, casualty insurance and long-term retirement savings plans.

Edward Sosa, a 21-year-old business administration major, said this competition offered a more in-depth, hands-on experience than what he had gotten from job fairs in the past.

“At job fairs, (you are) not really getting to know them like you have here; (at the sales competition) you are getting feedback on what you can improve,” he said.

The competition lasted six hours and concluded with an awards ceremony held at the Alumni House.

In the team competition, the Sales Leadership Center team won first place. The team roster included Zeina Itani, Lizbeth Martinez, Genie Phan and Tiffany Zamora. Their members also swept the podium positions for individual awards.

Martinez received first place. Second and third place went to Itani and Phan, respectively.

After her win, Martinez emphasized the team effort that assisted her in reaching an individual victory. “They had helped me a lot so I knew that we could do this, and their support meant a lot to me and we did it,” she said.

In 2012, CSUF took second place in the Western States Collegiate Sales Competition, falling short against host Chico State. Because of the students’ experience at the competition against other schools, Mantey wanted to give the students more exposure and create more interactive events as training to develop the sales skills they would need to learn for future careers.

Mantey said he plans to take the students who delivered the strongest performance and recruit them into the core CSUF sales competition team. They are scheduled to compete again at the Western States event, as well as other Southern California events.

Mantey expressed interest in fielding a team for the National Collegiate Sales Competition, scheduled for March in Kennesaw, Ga. The competition has been held for the past 15 years. Last year, 68 universities participated along with 57 corporate sponsors.

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