Four students from CU Coventry travelled to Scotland to take part in the Scottish Open Sales Competition held at Abertay University in Dundee.
Held over two days in February this year, the competition asked students to speed sell their skills to industry experts and a ‘real life’ role play sales pitch to sales professionals.
Two of the winners, CU Coventry BA Strategic Sales and Marketing students Natasza Steven and Jack Biggs, were supported by course leader Bentil Oduro and lecturer, Marion Greenhalgh.
A total of four sales and marketing students from CU Coventry entered the competition, with Svetoslav Lichev and Andrei Iordan also taking part.
Several weeks in the run up to the event were spent preparing for the event, involving making sure that students make the link between applying classroom skills with a competitive edge needed to succeed. The presence of so many prestigious industry experts and the chance to attend workshops and seminars on site were a great addition to the main competition and help their future employability.
Bentil Oduro, Course Leader for Sales and Marketing at CU Coventry, said:
“This event is an amazing opportunity for the students and the universities involved. It was a fantastic learning experience showcasing talented students from a range of prestigious UK universities.”
It is the first time students from CU Coventry have taken part in the annual contest, organised by Professor Tony Douglas from Edinburgh Napier University and Dr Gary Mulholland from Abertay University.
The students also had the opportunity to meet and network with a range of industry experts and professionals including the sponsors of the event; San Francisco-based software and enterprise firm Salesforce; banking giant RBS; IT insights specialist Gartner and the Association of Professional Sales.
The competition consisted of two separate challenges, speed selling, where students prepare a two minute pitch about themselves to deliver to recruitment consultants highlighting why they think they should be employed.
The second challenge is a sales meeting role play where students take part in a two meetings with a potential customer. Both challenges are evaluated on sales the performance based on a number of criteria.
“This meant they had to be able to not only give a well-researched presentation but also think on their feet and respond to any challenging questions.”
Marion Greenhalgh added:
“In an ever changing commercial world, selling is an important focus for many businesses. The CU degree programmes and opportunities such as these competitions allow students to gain new skills and be better prepared for effective careers.”
The networking opportunities and advice and feedback from industry professionals gave the students a unique opportunity. Competitions such as this enrich the learning experience and are great addition to a CV.”
The two winning Coventry students are looking forward to joining other winners from the heat to go head-to-head against the best in Europe at the next round of the competition to be held at Edinburgh Napier University in May.
Hi there! My name is Juwan and I live in a beautiful city called Breda in The Netherlands. I have participated at the European Sales Competition and I would really like to tell you some more about my reasons why to apply.
Let's go back a couple of years in the past. At 16 years old I started studying International Business and Marketing at Avans University of Applied Sciences. I moved out of my parents’ house and got myself a nice place in Breda. I have always been interested in Sales and Marketing, but unfortunately we did not get to practice with sales as much as I had hoped and wanted. I felt like there was more to sales than I had already been taught. That need to learn more about sales made me decide to start my Minor in International Sales and Account Management. It was the perfect decision for me. We got to practice a lot of sales conversations and we really learned how to find out what your customer really wants and how you can help him or her in the best way possible. During my minor I found out that I really had a passion for sales.
After a short while I heard that my University was training some students to compete in a sales competition. They told me that the students would be trained in sales and that the best two students were going to compete in the European Sales Competition in Edinburgh. I was sold. This would give me the opportunity to develop not only my sales skills but also my skills in the English language. And that whilst competing with other students – which made if even more exciting for me. So I applied.
And, as I already had thought, we practiced a lot of cases. We learned how there are different methods to use during a conversation and how to find out what the specific need of your customer is. After that, we learned how to fulfill that need in the best way you can but while being beneficial for both parties. I really enjoyed being in contact with the customer and trying to find out his/her specific need.
So, we practiced and practiced. And I got better and better. After a while it was time to do the official “match” with the other students. I was so nervous. I had no idea how prepared the other students were and did not know if I was going to be lucky with an “easy customer”. We had the sales conversation in front of the panel of judges. And when every student had done the conversation, it was time to announce which two students could compete in the European Sales Competition..
Are you interested in participating in the European Sales Challenge?
Today I will tell you why you should and why I did!
My name is Maurice and last year I took part in the ESC, where I got to experience the international sales environment and was able to showcase my sales skills. Right after the challenge, one of the leading IT companies on the globe offered me a sales job in an international environment!
Before they throw you to the lions, you will have some time to prepare. First of all, there is a general introduction where the organizers will take you through the day; shortly after that you will go to the preparation room. There is a super-tense atmosphere here. The last minute drills are going on between you and your tutor or peers. Then it is your time to shine.
Last year the challenge had two rounds. The first round is one of the initial stages of the sales process: the discovery. Your aim is to uncover the clients’ needs and truly figure out what the clients are looking for in your solution. The last round is for the selected winners: here the objection handling and closing skills will come to show. Remember that it is not about selling a solution, it’s about solving the client’s challenges.
Probably even more important than the challenge is the networking – basically, this should be your challenge. There are top recruiters, sales managers, directors and various VPs of the sponsoring companies looking to recruit and speak to you in an informal environment. If you play your cards right, this is probably the easiest, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a flying start to your career or your desired internship.
From my experience, I can tell that all these people took time out of their schedule to learn more about the top-notch future sales talent Europe has to offer. Participating means you will be one of these talents which companies are looking for. Networking also offers you the possibility to find out more about different career paths. Try to figure out how some of these people found their way to certain positions. Looking at international career opportunities was my goal for the event.
Oracle is the company which I chose in the end. I remember one of the first questions they asked: “Would you consider moving to Dublin (Ireland) and work for us?” Three months later, after finishing my studies, my first day at Oracle was a fact. Now I work as a Business Development Consultant and I aim to uncover the needs of C-level executives for strategic IT decisions.
The main reasons why I decided to join Oracle are the career perspective, the training program and self-development possibilities which it offers. If you are able to map out your career path, this is the place you will most definitely be able to reach it!
Feel free to ask questions and connect with me via LinkedIn.
Turku University of Applied Sciences Coaches Timo Holopainen and Mikael Tomasson explain why sales skills are essential for everyone in life, and how they're using sales techniques to futher the careers of their engineering students.
Deva Rangarajan is a Professor at Vlerick Business School
The last decade has seen a significant shift in the way the sales profession operates. Advances in technology, combined with a hypercompetitive marketplace, means that today’s customers are more knowledgeable and demanding; they are empowered to be exact. As such, the sales process has also experienced tremendous change, with sales organizations increasingly moving from ‘product-centric’ to ‘customer-centric’ selling approaches.
Making this transition has been difficult for many established salespeople used to a particular way of working. Consequently, there has been an increase in demand for a young, open-minded, technologically-savvy sales force that can help sales organizations meet the demands of the market. However, having access to such sales talent has never been so difficult.
There remains a stigma which deters the millennial generation from considering a career in the sales profession. In response, some USA-based universities have adopted new approaches to help dispel this, with some using role-playing sales competitions to demonstrate to young students the exciting and challenging nature of the sales function. This initiative has been so successful that there are now more than a dozen national and regional sales competitions run annually in the USA alone.
While Europe has been a little slow in following suit, we are proud to have the European Sales Competition that serves to showcase our students’ talents to potential recruiters. Every year since its inception we have seen the number of universities participating in the competition grow and I am convinced that, in the not too distant future, European universities will boast a sales talent pool capable of rivalling that found anywhere else in the world.
EURIDIS BUSINESS SCHOOL is a business school entirely specialized on training B2B sales professionals, mostly for the technology sector. It was established in 1992 in France with two campuses in Paris and Lyon. Euridis delivers master’s and bachelor’s degrees 100% in the apprenticeship mode. All of our 500 students rotate between school (1 week) and a sales job in a company (3 weeks).
Euridis has set it’s focus to address the strong desire of students for international experience with the growing recruitment need of companies is the technology sector who are recruiting their salesforce more and more into European/EMEA hubs.
EMEA TECH SALES HUBS
Most leaders of the technology sector like Google, SAP, Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, HPE now have one or several sales & customer relationship hubs in Europe. In these hubs, Sales Development Representatives (SDR) will address the national markets in their native language but they also tend to be based in very multi-cultural offices in European countries. The largest such hub is Dublin, but Barcelona, London, Amsterdam and Malaga each have their own. Recruiting highly skilled and motivated graduates into these centers is a major priority.
Most students are looking for international experience, and searching for additional skills. First of all they are looking to improve their English language skills and become fluent in business English. They also feel that working outside of France together with a multitude of different nationalities will broaden their mindsets and improve their cross-cultural collaboration skills. Last but not least, they are looking at the experience as a way to improve their “anglo-saxon” business acumen and learn the best-in class sales processes.
Many companies have developed partnerships with EURIDIS to raise awareness about these job opportunities. In Q1 2017, Gartner (London), HPE (Barcelona) and SAP (Barcelona) have come to Euridis usually with a talent recruiter and a Euridis alumni who is already working in these hubs.
To further raise awareness for these opportunities Euridis has launched a range of programs including:
- Sending students to compete in International Sales Competition
o Boston and Brussels in 2015
o Helsinki in 2016
o Edinburgh in 2017
- Discovery trips with groups of 20 students to visit the tech’ eco-system of Dublin and Barcelona. 1 group in 2016, 2 groups in 2017.
- Setting up series of guides on f.ex. “How to integrate Salesforce in Dublin”, “How to integrate HPE in Barcelona”
- Last but not least – Organizing the 2018 European Sales Competition at Euridis Campus in Paris.
Euridis is particularly keen on participating to the European Sales Competition because it fits absolutely with the positioning of the school to focus on complex B2B sales. It is an excellent training ground for applying methods that are taught at Euridis like “Spin Selling”, “Challenger Sales” and “Start with Why”.
Thus Euridis is continuing it’s mission to serve the recruitment needs of sales professionals of the IT/Technology sector and continuously broadening skills and opportunities for it’s graduates. Euridis is continuing to look for opportunities to reinforce it’s mission, f.ex. by setting up a partnership “in situ” with a company or a university in Dublin.
Participating at the sales competition was an exciting experience. We were aware that only intense training would enable us to fully understand spin selling and what it needs to convince the buyer using this technique. Fully prepared by our lecturers we were excited to join the competition, but I think that no one can really prepare you for the excitement you feel before entering the room for your first competition interview. I remember that I needed a couple of minutes to calm myself down beforehand! It definitely helped that my colleague Markus and I had practiced our ice breakers several times.
The winners of the first round were announced after lunch and it was an honour to be part of the final five. While everybody else was already networking, we were locked away in a quiet room, very excited and keen to do our best one more time. Everybody received the preparation material 30 minutes prior to the second round. The final took place in a small room, but was broadcasted to the auditorium with a large audience. I was pretty nervous, but I also really enjoyed my time in the spotlight.
Meeting all the other international students and their lecturers was fun and made this day a special experience. We had interesting discussions with recruiters and some of the participants even got career opportunities from one of the sponsors, which made this competition a truly life changing experience to them. After the event, we had a great night out with many of the participants. As the atmosphere was tense during the day I believe everybody enjoyed taking some time to relax.
Susanne Roiser, Head of the Business Faculty and lecturer for spin selling, summarizes “there are mainly three reasons to participate in the competition. It can change your life. Networking with the recruiters might be the start of an exciting career with one of the sponsoring companies. Also, the outlook of being at the competition will motivate you to work hard on your selling skills. Finally, you will travel to another country and have a good time with international students and get to know the European network for spin selling.“
I would really recommend every that sales student apply for the chance to participate competition in the future, and wish all the best to this year’s participants.
David Giesinger, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt
Sebastiaan Debrouwere from Vlerick Business School, Belgium won the European Sales Competition 2016.
European university students competed in B2B sales skills in European Sales Competition. The competition was held at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. The winner was Sebastiaan Debrouwere. The second one was Simon Ampe, also from Vlerick Business School. Husain Al Waily from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences reached the third position and Zahir Wanga from Arnheim & Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences was fourth. The best partner opponent was Ares Hamid from Arnheim & Nijmegen.
According to Sales Competition Director Pia Hautamäki, the event exceeded the expectations of sponsoring companies. “The sponsors praised students’ B2B sales skills and claimed that the students were more talented than they expected”.
European Sales Competition was co-organized by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences. Sini Jokiniemi, Competition Director from Turku University of Applied Sciences says that a sales competition is a great way to highlight demanding B2B sales skills. “Through sales competitions universities have a great opportunity to develop sales teaching and raise the appreciation toward sales as an interesting and challenging profession.” Competition directors and sales teachers Pia Hautamäki and Sini Jokiniemi had the chance to prove their sales skills when they were interviewed live by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.
24 students from 12 European universities/universities of applied sciences participated in European Sales Competition. In the competition students attended a simulated sales situation where the student took a role of a salesperson and met a company buyer. The competition was enabled by the main sponsor Firstbeat Technologies and other companies interested in developing sales competences.
European Sales Competition is organized annually as a B2B role-play and the organizing university changes every year. This year the competitors sold Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment in the role-play. The competitors were very successful and coaches from 12 universities had succeeded in coaching their students to sell value to their customer.
“The level of competitors was really high and we hope that our cooperation with these skilled sales people continues”, says Marketing Director Maija Korkalainen from Firstbeat. Firstbeat’s prize for the winner was well-being for the future as the winner’s prize was Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment and personal consultation related to it.
The competition day climaxed with a banquet and prize-giving at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all competition participants, competitors, staff comprising of students and of course great sponsors Firstbeat Technologies, Oracle, Lindström, Salesforce, Gartner, Dell, Canon and Lassila & Tikanoja. Special thanks to the hosts of the final, Haaga-Helia sales students Karla Vallila and Mimosa Sukanen.
European Sales Competition is targeted to universities in Europe and to their students. The target of the competition is to raise the appreciation towards sales work and make B2B sales skills visible. The aim is also to bring sales courses to the curricula of European universities. The competition was organized by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences. The next competition will be organized in Edinburgh on June 1st, 2017.
I remember this day very clearly arriving to the airport in Brussels last year in June. It had been a busy spring with all exams, dead-lines and other projects which had to be done. But the European Sales Competition was something I didn´t want to miss for no reason! I found it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to show my negotiation skills in front of a demanding business jury. And yes, it got me nervous.
The day paid off and I took the 4th place in the European Sales Competition in 2015. Now one year later I'm proud to be there again as one of the organizers. I'm taking care of the announcing with Karla Vallilla (1st place in ESC 2015) and cheering you during the finals. I'm eager to see the huge potential of the competitors which dare to rock the stage despite the stress. This will make you stronger whether you made it to the finals or not.
One aspect which also interested me was the possibility to network with the company delegates as well as with all the competitors around Europe. It has provided me opportunities in companies and new friends. You never know where a new contact may lead you in life or your career. So go and mingle, don't hesitate to add me as well on Linkedin!
At the moment I'm graduating from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences as a BBA in B2B Sales and managing my own company PuskaPromotion. I founded the company with my colleagues in 2013 and now I'm working as the CEO with a team of 20 employees. PuskaPromotion provides Event Management, Sales and Promotion services to a demanding need. We do our work with passion and that feeling is going to touch you too! It has been delighting to gain this experience and continuously improve the business in many ways. One day it will go international for sure.
Hard work pays off I've noticed. Just relax, have a breath and be your wonderful self. I wish all the competitors the best for tomorrows challenge!