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Members of the Bradley Professional Sales Team (above from left to right) are Dr. Jason Garrett (coach), Max Lane, Beth Schafer, and Dan Short.
The job market may appear disheartening to some soon-to-be college graduates, but students in Bradley’s sales program may have myriad opportunities, especially after a stellar showing at a national sales competition.
Bradley recently placed sixth as a team at the National Collegiate Sales Competition XII hosted by Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. The ranking placed Bradley ahead of Michigan State, Baylor University and the University of Georgia, among other teams.
Seniors Dan Short of Naperville, Illinois and Max Lane of Shoreview, Minnesota finished in the top 16 of 122 competitors from 61 universities. Other team members included senior Bethany Schafer of Chebanse, Illinois and junior Dan Kahne of Bartlett, Illinois.
Bradley has placed in the top six four out of the last six years at the competition, including one first place finish.
“For Bradley, it’s really the platform for other academics to recognize what our program is doing,” said Dr. Jason Garrett, an assistant professor of marketing and the team’s coach. “There’s not really a ranking of our sales program or anything of that nature. When universities see schools placing multiple times in the top 10, they know that’s a place for great academics.”
Students also benefit from the competition. They spent about 20 hours each week practicing for the event and honing their customer interaction skills. And the competition itself provides access to hundreds of recruiters.
“Every one of our students that went down there has had their job search heat up tremendously since the competition,” Garrett said. “I feel like we have more recruiters than we have students in this area. Given the job market, that should be brought to students’ attention.”
The competition consisted of five rounds of 20-minute sales calls that are judged by sales professionals. Students received company profiles prior to the calls to prepare their pitches to best meet clients’ needs. Some of the information was received a couple of weeks before the competition. Other information was given to students only 30 minutes before they made calls.
Students can take the skills they learn in sales classes and apply them to any job or service that requires customer interaction. Those skills will make them more marketable and more likely to advance within a company.
“A lot of students, when they first take our class, think sales is about being a smooth talker, about being deceitful, about using tricks and coercing customers. And it’s very much not that way,” Garrett said. “It’s very much about learning a procedure and a process to systematically understand customers’ needs and present solutions to make their lives better.”