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Sixty seconds. That’s all the time students had to convince a panel of local entrepreneurs that they were the perfect candidate for a sales position. Friday’s Huether School of Business Speed Sell Competition attracted 22 brave business and nonbusiness undergraduates and challenged them to present a compelling “elevator pitch” about themselves. An elevator pitch is a short personal statement that summarizes who you are, what you know, and what you want to do in 30 seconds. 

Students began round one with an introduction and three adjectives that best described themselves along with examples that demonstrate each quality. Each pitch ended with a call to action. The field was narrowed to the top three candidates: Christian Hunt, Johanna Campbell, and Nadia Lau. They each had only 30 seconds to explain what motivates them and why. Unlike the previous round, the top candidates did not have any time to prepare their remarks. Students were judged in both rounds on poise, delivery, enthusiasm, confidence, and ability to keep the judges engaged. 

Students and professors standing outside the Huether School of Business

Pictured: The business and non-business students who competed in the Speed Sell Competition, along with the judges and professors.

For undergraduate students early in their business education, participating in the Speed Sell Competition brings the job interview to life so they can practice their elevator pitch and get constructive feedback from local entrepreneurs and business people. It’s a great opportunity for students to showcase their communication and public speaking skills while perfecting how to promote their personal brand. Students learn to put together a professional presentation and gain valuable experience speaking in front of their peers as well as strangers. 

Sales Professional in Residence Mark Michalisin leads Saint Rose’s Sales Management program, the first of its kind in New York State. He provides opportunities for hands-on experience, both inside and outside the classroom, to give his students a strong foundation in selling, negotiation, conflict resolution, sales management, and leadership and retail management. The competition is just one of the many innovative ways his students gain a competitive edge. 

“The Speed Sell Competition is all about getting our students to believe in themselves. To find that inner confidence they all have and getting them to feel comfortable speaking in public. The skills they showed in the competition are not just sales skills, they are life skills they will use every day in their careers,” said Michalisin. “We decided to create this competition to enable our students to showcase their skills and to put theory in action. The Huether School of Business Sales Program is on its way to becoming a preeminent sales program because of these students, and I am proud to be part of it!”

There was also time for a Q&A with the judges, who represented a variety of local businesses including iHeartMedia, Cetera Financial Group, Faith Creative Names, Laser Facilities Group, Buckle, DigitalXpress, and INOC Data Centers.  Their best advice? “You’re selling yourself at every job interview. Each one is a sales competition. You don’t have to like public speaking, but you have to get good at it.” 

Winner Nadia Lau impressed the judges with her poise, delivery, and, “the way she engaged the entire room.” All of the students were commended for their communication skills and having the courage to participate and speak in front of their peers as well as strangers. Several of the day’s competitors will be moving on to the virtual Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition (NISC) for the opportunity to compete against students from 45 colleges hailing from all across the country.