“Junto Coffee had its start in a small mid-west town quite by accident…”
That is how the elaborately written case for the 2015 National Team Selling Competition begins. The competition, presented by Altria Group Distribution Company and 3M for the eighth year in a row, developed a fictitious yet realistic scenario in which teams played the roles of employees of Junto Coffee, a company that is pitching coffee brewing and water preparation equipment to My Store, a nationwide chain of convenience stores.
The University of Richmond, one of twenty-one schools represented at this year’s competition at the Indiana University at Bloomington Kelley School of Business, was represented by a four person team, which included three leadership studies majors. Dagny Barone, ’18, Liang-Yun Cheng, ’17, Hira Siddiqui, ’16, and Andrew Weisbrodt, ’16, were selected in early October based on auditions in front of a panel of three Robins School of Business marketing faculty members.
“Instead of looking for people who were strong in everything, they tried to make it so each person brought something different to the team. Some of us are really strong in our sales and presentation skills, some are strong at research and analytics, and we’re all strong in strategic thinking,” said Siddiqui, a business administration and leadership studies double major with a concentration in marketing.
While everyone brought something different to the team, Siddiqui pointed to the multidisciplinary approach of a Jepson education as a major strength in being able to examine the case and build a comprehensive argument.
“You’re able to think through things strategically and critically and analyze, which a lot of people might not be able to do if they don’t have the liberal arts background,” said Weisbrodt, a leadership studies major with a minor in business administration.
The team met twice a week for three hour practices during the month of October to prepare for the competition, which took place at the end of the month. Outside of practices, the team held late night sessions in the library to prepare the logistics for the presentation.
“I think leadership came through during our meetings,” said Weisbrodt. “Everybody works in different ways, so it was really interesting trying to figure out the balance our different work styles and how best to go forward as a group so we can become cohesive and work towards our goals.”
The competition took place over the course of two days. During the first day, the team, in character as representatives of Junto Coffee, had a question and answer session with 3M and Altria employees playing the roles of My Store employees. On the second day, teams returned for a second appointment and selling conversation. Three finalist teams advanced to a third appointment to present a summary of their proposals. While the University of Richmond team did not advance to the third round, Siddiqui and Weisbrodt agreed that the team’s background in critical thinking gave them an advantage as they prepared a strong argument during the short timeframe.
“In the end, it was really worth it, and I think that we all came together as a team and crushed it,” said Weisbrodt.