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December 31, 2014

Students Hone Sales Skills in Campus Competition

From left, the top four finishers in the Dec. 5 Sweet 16 Sales Competition are Stephanie Firenze (fourth), Remy Herfert (second), John Harrell (first) and Thena Combis (third).
From left, the top four finishers in the Dec. 5 Sweet 16 Sales Competition are Stephanie Firenze (fourth), Remy Herfert (second), John Harrell (first), and Thena Combis (third)

Students in California State University, Chico’s Professional Sales Program gained real-world experience pitching representatives from major U.S. companies during the fourth annual Sweet 16 Sales Competition on campus Dec. 5.

To test their skills, students participated in 10-minute sales scenarios for TEKsystems, an information technology staffing company. The students were tasked with convincing a Lowe’s IT manager to hire TEKsystems’ professional consultants for their next IT project. 

More than 35 corporate executives or recruiters evaluated the students in more than 20 sales categories. Corporate sponsors and representatives included ADP, Intuit, SalesForce, TEKsystems, Frito-Lay, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Yelp, among many others.

After the first round, the four highest scoring students entered a second round of scenarios. The top four finishing students—John Harrell, Remy Herfert, Thena Combis and Stephanie Firenze, respectively—received cash prizes ranging from $125 to $500.

The four will go on to compete in the Western States Collegiate Sales Competition, a regional sales event held at CSU, Chico in the spring.

“Chico State has won the [WSCSC] the past four years, beating such stalwarts as Baylor, the University of Texas-Dallas, Ball State and California State University, Fullerton,” said Bill McGowan, administrative director for CSU, Chico’s Professional Sales Program. “Early registration for this April already includes Baylor, Kansas State and the University of Missouri.”

Students had another opportunity to hone their sales skills at a Dec. 4 networking mixer, where they spent the much of the evening giving three-minute “elevator pitches” to the same company representatives. 

“We had about 35 corporate partners and about 85 students interacting with each other, which emulated a speed dating-type scenario,” McGowan said. “It was a rousing success and created many more opportunities for the corporate partners to meet a variety of students.  This lasted for 12 rounds of three minutes each.  One additional minute ran on the clock to give students time to catch their breath and get ready for the next company executive.”

Harrell, Herfert, Combis and Firenze will spend the spring semester preparing to compete in the WSCSC, slated for April 23 and 24.

In 2013, the University’s professional sales program was named to the national Sales Education Foundation’s list of Top University Sales Programs. Learn more about the University’s business degrees and programs at www.csuchico.edu/cob.

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs

Read the story via Chico State News here.