Sales stars of the future went head to head in a prestigious national competition at Edinburgh Napier University last week. Students from all over the UK traveled to the Craiglockhart-based Business School to test their nerve and skill in the Gartner-sponsored first UK Universities Sales Competition.
The competition, co-hosted by Abertay University, promotes the importance of professional selling to the UK economy and gives students a platform to use key techniques in real world situations.
Those taking part included not just people interested in pursuing sales and marketing careers, but also would-be engineers, scientists, accountants and entrepreneurs.
Winners at the event, held on March 21 and 22, were Zeya Cao (York University), Anna Bloch (Perth College), Alex McCrindle (Abertay University), Emma Sword (Abertay University) and Abbie O’Grady (Kansas State).
They impressed judges from the world of industry in role-plays in which they played sales executives and presented detailed pitches to customers following initial meetings to identify business needs.
They were assessed on their approach and their effectiveness as communicators, as well as their ability to gather information and present solutions.
The student recognised as most improved between the different elements of the role play was Eden Tresfagabar from Coventry University.
The main event was preceded by a ‘Speed Selling’ curtain raiser in which students highlighted why they should be hired in two-minute sales pitches about themselves to experienced recruiting executives.
Winners of this were Anna Bloch (Perth College), Oliver Dolby (University of York) and Alex McCrindle (University of Abertay).
Competition Director Dr Tony Douglas, from Edinburgh Napier’s Business School, said: “The first UK Universities Sales Competition seemed a natural step to take following the earlier Scottish Open Sales Competition and our pilot event of two years ago which involved just Edinburgh Napier and Abertay with one sponsor and 12 students.
“These events deliver great sales job opportunities and help students hone not just selling skills but skills for life. It is a win for students, sponsors and Business Schools with Gartner, Salesforce and Textron attending and taking part, and student talent being connected to businesses eager to fill their sales graduate programme pipelines.”
Gary Mulholland, senior lecturer in Business and Management at Abertay University’s Dundee Business School, said: “This has been a great learning experience for all 60 students who took part in the competition, many of whom have been offered internships and work placements as a result of their performance.”
The universities which took part included Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Abertay, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Coventry, Lancaster, Keele, Sheffield Hallam, York, Greenwich, Kansas State and Perth College.
The judges who assessed their performance were from IT and research firm Gartner, cloud computing company Salesforce, aerospace giant Textron and Kansas State and Abertay universities. The event was also backed by the Institute of Sales Management.
A keynote address on the future of sales was delivered by Professor Neil Rackham, visiting professor at Edinburgh Napier.
Edinburgh Napier is home to Scotland’s first University-led Centre for Sales and Business Development.