National Team Selling Competition

B-school team takes second in national competition

December 18, 2020


A team of four Robins School seniors placed second in a national sales competition, hosted virtually by Indiana University. The National Team Selling Competition brought together 32 schools and top-level sales talent from across the country.

Jessie Bonilla, Ava Cummings, Ellie Ronan, and Erin Watton worked throughout October to craft their pitch with marketing professors and coaches Bill Bergman, Jeff Carlson, and Adam Marquardt.

We go up against these schools that offer degrees in sales,” Bergman said. “Michigan State has five courses in sales, and we have one: Professional Selling. It does my heart good to see us compete well.” 

Each school in the competition received the same case study. This year’s client was a grocery store adapting to online shopping, and the student teams acted as a technology company offering robots who could restock shelves and prepare orders. The team had to adhere to COVID-19 protocols while also preparing for the competition. That meant each UR student practiced their part in separate classrooms and worked together through Zoom.

Bonilla is an economics major from Nicaragua and said she went into Professional Selling with a goal of competing on UR’s team. She was able to put everything she learned in class into practice, while learning Zoom etiquette.

“On Zoom, you can’t read people’s body language,” she said. “We had to find the symbiosis to see when someone is talking and when it’s OK to interrupt. It took practice and working together in different rooms and not stepping on each other’s toes.” 

The students and coaches developed a strategy, homed in on the client’s needs, and asked relevant questions, which resulted in a winning pitch that led to their success, Carlson said.

“We’re going from a competition that has been run very well historically in person to Zoom, and the only reason we were able to succeed was the countless hours the team put in,” he said.

In addition to giving the students real-world experience, the competition also exposed them to alumni and potential job opportunities. Carlson said alums who are in a position to hire Spiders reached out to inquire about the UR team.  

“Richmond has a history of working hard and performing well,” Carlson said. The UR team won the competition in 2018, and a Spider was named the top salesperson in 2019.