Annual Invitational Sales Competition’s Dual Format a ‘Game Changer’

March 1, 2022 | News, UToday, Alumni, Business and Innovation
By John Anderson III

More than 100 professional sales students from 36 universities nationwide competed last week in the seventh annual University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition.

The competition, which ran Feb. 24-26, included role-playing, coaching/interviewing sessions, a career fair, networking breakouts, student development blocks, social media, entertainment and awards on campus and virtually.

Shevonne Banks from Owens Corning speaks with Charles Borus from Eastern Michigan University during a coaching/interviewing session during the UToledo Invitational Sales Competition.

The Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales within the Neff College of Business and Innovation organized the event, the original and only national sales competition dedicated exclusively to juniors, sophomores and freshmen students; graduating seniors are typically already placed in jobs because of high corporate demand.

The 2022 competition’s sponsors include 3M, Rocket Companies, Mediasite, National Corporate Housing, Hilti, Owens Corning, Schindler Elevator, Crown Lift Trucks, Gartner, International Paper, LinkedIn, Waste Management, Amazon Web Services, Group Management Services and Adobe.

This is the first year that Invitational Sales Competition was held in a dual-model format.

“It was incredibly eye-opening for the students, universities and sponsors to see a competition where the same buyer was interacting with sellers in different format models. It mimicked real-world scenarios for today’s sales professionals, and it enabled us to include everyone —regardless of their format preferences or situations,” said Deirdre Jones, director of the Edward Schmidt School of Professional Sales and The University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition.

“Being able to toggle during a live stream between the inputs for onsite and online models using our Mediasite recorders was a game changer.”

Students attended as a competitor, alternate or peer coach. Each university team was comprised of one junior and one sophomore or freshman, providing representation in both the Junior Division and Sophomore/Freshman Division. Alternates also were required to be juniors, sophomores or freshmen. Peer coaches could be of any class standing.

To help students develop a stronger understanding of how selling interactions vary based on buying roles within an organization and channel involvement, rounds of the competition focused on interactions with those various positions.

Role-playing lasted 15 minutes, and competitors received their evaluation sheets at the end of the competition. Judges were a combination of corporate and faculty. Faculty members did not judge students who are from their own university.

The selling scenario this year focused on 3M’s newest innovation, the Xtract Cubitron sanding disc.

“While it was uncomfortable for some students to get outside their comfort zone, most of them took this as an opportunity to rethink how they communicate, what tools they use and more,” said Lora Parent, associate lecturer in The University of Toledo’s John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and the lead on running the junior division role playing.

“I was dancing in the control room as I saw a seller walk into our role-playing room and then angle the laptop screen when she got to her sales demo so the online buyer could see the comparison of how a 3M Xtract mesh disc outperformed a competitor’s paper disc when using a vacuum sander. The buyer’s face was priceless. Brilliant! This is where innovation and real change takes place.”

Formed in 2000 and endowed in 2002, the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales believes in transforming the profession of sales by creating knowledge, shaping people and making connections, and the UTISC is an ideal platform to accomplish just that.

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