19–20 May 2020, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Austria

The trip to ESC 2019 – Andy’s perspective (Matias Hokkanen & Andreas Lindo from Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS)

First of all, what an amazing opportunity the European Sales Competition is for a technical sales student looking to get into the international work market and to improve all sales competences in the process. Before this sales semester, I hadn’t even dreamt of such a possibility since I study business logistics, but in reality, all that really matters is do you really want it and are you willing to change for the better to achieve it.

To be honest, despite our well executed preparation for the competition before the trip, since I knew I had a real opportunity to land a sales job in another European country from there (which I had dreamt about) on top of the skilled competitors we were about to face, I was pretty nervous and my focus had gone all over the place the night before our flight there. In fact, I was so distracted by all sorts of things that in the morning of our departure I ended up forgetting perhaps the most important thing to get there, my passport, and almost missed our flight. Long story short, I did get my passport in time for the flight, and I thank god that I did, because everything on the trip lived up to the expectations and then some.

We flew in a day before the competition, so we had some extra time on our hands to explore the beautiful city of Amsterdam first and to mentally prepare ourselves for the actual competition. Despite earlier stressing about everything, after discussing the competition and our preparation for the main event in s’Hertogenbosch with our mentors, I realized how well we really had prepared and that there really was nothing to be afraid of. The sales semester and practice sessions already included all the preparation we needed regardless of not being a sales major or a master’s student.

On the first day of ESC, we had a pitching competition which was not our first priority there, but none the less it was very teaching, well planned and a good warm up before the main competition day. I was also positively surprised to land three job interviews from which I still have a very good-looking shot to get employed at after graduation. On top of the organized social interaction, all the socializing and networking that was going on over there outside of the formal parts was something that turned out to be one of the most interesting aspects of the whole trip, at least in my opinion. It’s not that common for a random student to have such interesting conversations in fine dining restaurants with people of a wide variety of social statuses such as consultants, lobbyists, principal lecturers, previous competitors, fellow students from other countries and the list goes on.

The first day was already a great kickoff for the ESC, but the main competition day was what we really had been waiting for all this time. At this point both me and Matias were feeling confident and ready to have a positive impact on the judges with our upcoming performances, so there was no stress about it anymore. In fact, it was thrilling in a good way. At least on our part, there was a positive anticipation in the air, and we couldn’t wait to go do our thing while we waited patiently for our turn with the other competitors. Perhaps that confidence and the fact that we had great practice sessions before the competition is why we both ended up doing better than expected in the first round.

Even in the second round of negotiations (that we had not practiced for as much as the first), I felt like it went well enough to be satisfied even though neither one of us didn’t make the finals. The main thing that we both set out there to do in the competition, was to surpass our own limits, improve and learn what we can in the process, which is exactly what we did and why it felt great despite not winning. On top of that the networking at the event opened up new doors and potential friendships in the future, which is something that we got to be grateful for. We also founded an alumni group with Matias for all competitors from earlier years as well, along with this year’s competitors and hopefully future competitors as well. Also sponsors and teachers involved with the competition have been added to have the possibility to re-connect with others there and possibly discuss job opportunities with skilled ex-competitors.

To summarize, I can whole heartedly say that the ESC is not just a good competition for fun. It is a unique opportunity and experience for all parties involved that can help you improve yourself as well as your career. I’m sure the concept will only continue to grow, attract even more high regarded sponsors and talents around Europe and perhaps even more global attention. For all business students interested in international technical sales, especially here in Turku, I highly recommend competing for a chance to attend the European Sales Competition. You will not regret it.

Matias Hokkanen & Andreas Lindo from TUAS in the Netherlands

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