When it comes to the Professional Sales concentration of the Bachelor of Science in Business, some may say it’s the sales results that matter most, others might say it’s the art of the deal. For Dr. Chris Cox, associate professor of marketing and team coach, it may be a mixture of both.
In only their second RNMKRS Virtual Sales competition, fourteen IU Southeast business students cleaned house against some of the top collegiate sales programs in the country, placing first in the role play competition and second in the SpeedSell competition. All fourteen students scored in the top 20 percent of participants and thirteen of the fourteen placed in the top five percent of participants. Four IU Southeast students placed in the top one percent including Griffin Alvey who placed second overall, Emilee Organ, 12th place, Will Eplion, 14th place and Dalton Isenberg, who placed 17th. Alvey also placed second overall in the SpeedSell competition.
“I am so proud of this group,” said Cox. “They worked so exceptionally hard—every one of them—and the results show that. To have every student finish in the top 20 percent, that is unheard of, and was unequaled by any other university. Just a phenomenal showing!”
This year’s competition featured 1,500 students from 49 top-rated schools, including Harvard, Boston College, Indiana State, Purdue, Virginia Tech, James Madison, University of Kansas and Georgia Southern, who took the top prize in SpeedSell. A total of 32 universities competed in SpeedSell.
In the role play competition, the students were sales representatives for Dell, the computer manufacturer. The simulation had them selling Dell Rugged laptops to a police department. They had 15 minutes to open the sales call, proceed through the discovery and investigation process to the presentation of solutions, handling objections and obtaining a commitment.
The SpeedSell competition ranks a 90 second “elevator” pitch.
RNMKRS utilize an interpersonal communication engine (ICE)—an AI animation—to simulate interactions between individuals in the sales process and to provide bias-free feedback and scoring that is needed for participants to improve their ability, according to the Cox. It is both a training tool and competitive experience, promoting “muscle memory” around the sales process and several fundamental selling skills. The role play training tool allows students to practice anytime, anywhere, in a safe environment, where they can experiment to find what works and what doesn’t.
Students gain a lot from taking part in the competitions, including a good understanding of the consultative selling process and the opportunity to develop critical selling skills, in addition to confidence in their abilities.
“The RNMKRS competition allows students to see where they stack up, relative to students across the country, many from some of the best university sales programs out there,” said Cox. “Our students embraced this opportunity with both arms.”
Cox noted that four additional students, Sarelia Rios-Garcia, Brittany Gebby, RJ Nelms and Claire Lobb, finished just outside of the top one percent. “They were so disappointed, because they had invested so heavily,” said Cox. “But that’s another great life—and sales—lesson. We don’t always get the result we want, even when we work very hard for it. In the end, I was no less proud of them. But I absolutely love their competitive spirit.”
On December 1, students took time away from preparing for their final selling assignment to be recognized for their RNMKRS achievements. The students were recognized by Cox, Dr. David Eplion, Dean of the School of Business and Dr. Kelly Ryan, Interim Chancellor of IU Southeast. All students received certificates of merit and an IU Southeast briefcase.
“This will be one of the top five things you remember of your time at IU Southeast, even 20 years from now,” said Ryan. “You learned more than just sales skills. You learned life skills; to persevere and to prepare. To do your best in the moment.”
Ryan also attributed the team’s success to the teachings and coaching of Dr. Cox. “Dr. Cox killed it,” said Ryan. “You were highly motivated, but he set the stage.”
“I have never seen a group perform as well as a group as you have,” said Eplion. “You will not soon forget this achievement.”