Students pose in professional attire

Eighth annual strategic sales competition provides students with real-world sales experience

On November 18, 2022, the Department of Marketing at Towson University held its 8th Annual Strategic Sales Competition. Nearly 60 students and 44 representatives from 13 corporate partners gathered to participate in the competition. Advance Business Systems, the platinum corporate sponsor for this year’s event, tasked the students with selling a package of various IT services offered by their company and served as “buyers” for the competition.

Representatives from Northwestern Mutual, United Electric Supply, Sherwin-Williams, Lower, MDP, Insight Global, Contour Mortgage, Enterprise, ADP, Chesapeake Plywood, Cvent, memoryBlue, and Stanley Black & Decker served as judges for the competition. Among the group of judges were several alumni including Kevin Carr ’87 (Cvent), Hailey Hardesty ‘19 (Enterprise), Alex Parker ’20 (Northwestern Mutual) and Joe Richardson ’98 (Stanley Black & Decker).

The Sales Competition is a great experience for students to gain hands on sales experience, as well as providing them with the opportunity to network with business professionals from the Towson area. Students from any major and class are welcome to participate, but students in MKTG 452 participate as part of their course.

“The Strategic Sales Competition provides the perfect environment to gather our best students and a large group of representatives of the regional business community. It is the perfect setting – the companies are looking to hire fresh talent and the students are looking for their first job after college,” Dr. Plamen Peev, professor of marketing and organizer of the competition, said. “The event grows every year and hopefully it will help elevate our sales program to where in the next few years we should be able to offer a sales certificate to TU students and establish a sales center within the College of Business and Economics,” he added.

In preparation for the competition, students were asked to develop a sales pitch for a potential buyer. During the competition, students enter a room with one buyer, introduce themselves, and then have 15 minutes to deliver their sales pitch.

When asked about how she prepared for the competition, first place winner Carly Lobus emphasized preparation and rehearsal. “You never know when you’re prepared enough, you never know when to stop,” she said. “My best advice is to practice with somebody, but don’t be too rehearsed.”

Students pose in professional attire
The top three competition winners. From left to right: Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

To replicate a “real-world” environment, the judges view the performances from a live stream in another room. From there they can evaluate students’ performances based on their delivery, tactics and ability to address the buyers’ concerns.

Olivia Bushong, Towson University Class of 2015. Photo: LinkedIn.
Woman poses in professional attire
Hayley Beddard, Towson University Class of 2020. Photo: LinkedIn.

Advance is home to several Towson University alumni who represented the company during the competition as buyers. Hayley Beddard ’20, an account sales representative for Advance since June 2022, praised the students for their tenacity and hard work. “I think [the competition] just gives them good real-world experience and helps build some confidence, she said. “I know when I did it myself it was really nerve-wracking, and it took a lot of courage to do it.” Hayley graduated from Towson University in 2020 with a degree in business administration. Olivia Bushong ’15 joined Advance’s marketing and communications team immediately after graduating from Towson University with a degree in mass communications.

The judges selected eight winning students:

  1. Carly Lobus, Senior, Mass Communications
  2. Ayden Schnitzer, Senior, Business Administration, Management Concentration (Leadership & Management)
  3. Haley Haggerty, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  4. Ryan Hashim, Senior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  5. Alicia Anthony, Junior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  6. Josh Munley, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  7. Hannah Herman, Junior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  8. Ellie Pikulsky, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
Students pose with their winning certificates
The eight winning students pose (from left to right) with Jeff Elkin, President of Advance Business Systems; Dr. Erin Steffes, Chair of the Department of Marketing; Dr. Judy Harris, Interim Dean of the College of Business and Economics; and Professor Plamen Peev, professor of marketing. The winning students featured center (from left to right) include: Ellie Pikulsky (8th place), Hannah Herman (7th place), Alicia Anthony (5th place), Ryan Hashim (4th place), Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

Jeff Elkin, president of Advance, commended the students for their preparation and the quality of their pitches. “We thought the presentations were terrific. Students were clearly very prepared for it and had great training. We were very impressed,” he said. “My advice for future students is to prepare. Know the product. And be yourself.”

All eight winning students received scholarships up to $1,500 for their success in the competition. The top 5 students were also invited to represent Towson University at the National Shore Sales Challenge to be held at Salisbury University this spring.

For more information about the TU Strategic Sales Competition, please visit our website.