Selling to win: TU students polish their professional pitching skills

By Laura Braddick on October 24, 2017

Third-annual CBE competition helped 37 students gain hands-on networking experience and a chance to land a coveted job interview

Winner Corey Barnard (left) with CBE professor and event organizer Plamen Peev.
Winner Corey Barnard (left) with CBE associate professor and event organizer Plamen Peev.

Your network and experience are two keys to a successful career search. Thirty-seven Towson University students developed both during the third annual College of Business and Economics Strategic Sales Competition on Oct. 20.

Female student making a sales pitch to a male buyer
TU students made pitches to sales professionals posing as buyers.

Students made 20-minute, one-on-one sales pitches to potential buyers. Sales professionals from the 13 sponsoring companies comprised the buyers being pitched and a panel that judged students on their execution via closed-circuit video feed.

Associate professor and event organizer Plamen Peev believes the format helps students stretch themselves and develop skills they will need in the future.

“The role-play format requires students to push their limits. It breaks from the routine presentation format, as it does not allow for a lot of planning, and it does not provide much structure,” he said. “Students have to get key information from the buyer in the same 20 minutes which they present solutions based on that information. The ability to think on your feet and use product knowledge selectively to address buyers’ issues becomes very important.

Senior Corey Barnard, communications major and marketing minor, won first place and a $1,500 cash award. Senior Caitlin Manthe, a member of the women’s swimming team majoring in business administration/marketing, took second place, and sophomore accounting major Larry Zhang placed third. The college will send the first- and second-place winners to the National Collegiate Sales Competition at Kennesaw State University in Georgia next April.

Sales professionals watching a video feed
Sales professionals judged students' pitches via a closed-circuit video feed.

“I’m really impressed to see the size of the event doubled and even more impressed with the acumen of the students,” said Michael McGuire, vice president of self-directed sales at Merrill Edge, who served as a buyer in the competition. “They all came prepared and were very professional.”

The sponsors for the 2017 competition—which was open to all TU students—were ADP, Atlas Insurance, Bank of America, Gartner, McCormick & Co., Merrill Edge, Merrill Lynch, NewDay USA, Northwestern Mutual, Ricoh, Stanley Black & Decker, Staples, StoneBridge Advisors, and WeddingWire.

CBE’s business and accounting programs are accredited by AACSB International, the highest standard of achievement available for business schools. Less than five percent of schools worldwide are accredited for business and only one percent are accredited for both business and accounting.