BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Students from 20 colleges and universities across the country will compete this week in the 13th annual National Team Selling Competition, hosted by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
The two-day premier event for students studying professional sales takes place Oct. 23-25 and is organized by Kelley’s Center for Global Sales Leadership.
Competing teams have the opportunity to bring their classroom knowledge and experience and apply those skills in a selling situation that is realistic and relevant in today’s market. The competition also provides exceptional networking opportunities with corporate partners, students, and faculty.
About 80 participants will come from coast to coast and include students from Kelley Big Ten peers Penn State and Michigan State universities, as well as Baylor University, Villanova University and the universities of Washington and Connecticut. Several in-state institutions are represented, including Indiana State University, Marian University and Manchester University.
“We’re proud to provide this valuable experience and to be the only top 10 undergraduate business school that offers a professional sales major,” said Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair in Strategic Management.
Students are competing for $6,000 in prize money. Through the generous support of sponsoring companies Altria Distribution Co. and 3M, meals and lodging are provided throughout the event.
Two weeks before the competition, teams were given a 15-page document that presented a realistic yet fictional business case. Teams will be judged on their performance during two rounds of role-playing exercises with judges from the sponsoring companies.
More than 60 Kelley students competed in an earlier, one-on-one competition in order to be selected to participate in the National Team Selling Competition.
The competition’s team-based approach and its complexity differentiate it from other sales contests around the country, Michael Ames, a Kelley alumnus and Altria vice president for talent acquisition and development, said in 2017.
“The fact that this competition is a team-selling competition reflects the evolving nature of sales, especially at higher levels,” Ames said. “It’s not as transaction oriented. It’s about managing longer relationships, bigger types of sales with more individuals on your team.”
Feedback is given to students during the competition. All faculty coaches and participants receive a video of their school’s performance as well as a video of the case debrief, so they can continue to learn from the National Team Selling Competition experience. Presentations by the last three winning teams are available online on the event’s page.
Hosting the team sales competition demonstrates how much Kelley has been an early leader in sales education. Kelley is the only top 10 undergraduate program to offer a professional sales major. Fewer than 25 business schools nationwide offer such a degree.
“The demand for students who can represent companies in customer-facing roles is very large,” said Charles B. Ragland, executive director of the Center for Global Sales Leadership and a clinical associate professor of marketing. “Then they move up, out of those roles and into sales and marketing management jobs, depending on the company.”
About 150 Kelley students graduate annually with a major in professional sales, and most double-major in another business discipline. All of them leave with a job at places such as consumer products giants Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool, Kraft, Altria and 3M.
In addition to organizing the competition, the Center for Global Sales Leadership works closely with corporate partners to create programs and events that get students excited about careers in professional selling and sales management. Each semester, the center provides multiple opportunities to partner with different student groups at Kelley, including the Global Sales Workshop, Sales Club and professional sales majors.