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VSU Students Rank Tops in Global Virtual Sales Competitions

On Monday, Nov. 21, six VSU students in the Professional Selling (MKTG 4130) class taught by Associate Professor Dr. Gary Futrell were recognized during a virtual ceremony.

“These students showed amazing dedication and a desire to excel,” Dr. Futrell said. “This is the first time we’ve participated in the competition, and they performed even better than I could have imagined. Once again, VSU students show that they can compete with students at the highest levels,”

Among the students, Mallory Johnson, a senior marketing major, took first place in the RNMKRS (pronounced “rainmakers”) SpeedSell competition this fall. Over 3,000 students throughout the United States, Canada and Europe participated in the online competitions, and Johnson took the first-place spot overall.

“Students who participate in sales competitions are highly sought after by top employers,” Dr. Futrell said. “It’s not unusual for students who place well to get multiple job offers.”

In addition to Johnson’s first-place finish, Jordan Haskins, a senior marketing major, was recognized with a top 1% finish (fifth place) overall in the same competition. Others recognized included Bradford Hames, a senior marketing major who placed 11th; Grace Isaac, a senior marketing major who placed 17th; and Josh Griffis, a junior management major who placed 30th.

“The minor in professional sales isn’t about making used-car salespeople,” Dr. Futrell said. “It focuses on helping students develop the soft skills needed to excel in any career field. … It’s about relationship-building, problem-solving, and communicating. The new competitive sales team will give students the platform to build their confidence and show their skills.”

Conducted by RNMKRS each semester, the SpeedSell competition uses a smartphone app to challenge students to deliver a 90-second elevator pitch to an artificial intelligence bot. During the 10-week competition, students develop, practice and deliver their pitch to achieve a high score. Students are judged on engagement, pitch content and communication skills.

In a separate RNMKRS competition, Jacob Spooner, a senior marketing major, was named southern regional champion. In this competition, students participated in a 15-minute sales roleplaying exercise with the AI bot. Here, students are judged on all phases of the sales process, including rapport building, presentation, overcoming objections and communication skills.

“My sensitivity to the customer’s problems and concerns being genuine and showing you truly care about your customers is how you make a sale,” Spooner said when asked what his greatest strength is regarding sales.

Students in both competitions competed for prizes, recognition, bragging rights and potential jobs with leading employers like Dell Technologies, Cintas and Gartner. This semester, prizes included TVs, computers, tech accessories and professional career counseling.

Top competitors are handpicked by competition sponsors for jobs and internships. The efforts of these students allowed VSU to rank No. 8 overall in a field of over 60 institutions. This is the first time VSU has participated in the global virtual sales.

In addition to being one of the few hundred sales programs in the country, VSU is forming a new sales team to participate in live and virtual sales competitions in the spring. No experience is required, and the team is open to students of all majors and class levels.

Contact Dr. Gary Futrell (gdfutrell@valdosta.edu, (229)245-3809) if you are interested in a minor in professional sales or participating on the VSU sales team.

Written by Madison Gruber, Editor-in-Chief. Photo courtesy of RNMKRS.

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