Four Robins students achieved third place in this year’s National Team Selling Competition at Indiana University, the highest any Robins team has ever achieved at the annual event.
“It’s a big deal because it shows that we can compete with schools that have a big reputation,” said Jeff Carlson, team mentor and assistant professor of marketing at the Robins School.
He recruited seniors Liang-Yun Cheng, Caroline Riedman, Madison Day, and Katie Sanders to research, plan, and present a pitch about an assigned product to professional sales executives from Altria and 3M.
“Being able to sell someone an idea on the spot was just thrilling to me,” said Caroline Riedman. “Doing so as a group was really powerful.”
All four of the students are business majors, but each said every individual team member brought something different to the table.
“I was the closer,” said Madison Day, line-backer for the Spiders, who was able to attend thanks to a bye week in the schedule. “As a team dynamic we ended up working well together.”
Here’s how the competition works: each team receives a product to pitch to the judges. They have two weeks to plan for three different presentations: a roundtable meeting, a presentation to the judges, and a final presentation in front of all participants, mentors, judges, and professionals at the event. The winning team is awarded $3,000.
The product was flavored water, and the team had the task of convincing a grocery store that they needed the drink on their shelves.
“We asked good questions, and we uncovered the hidden gem in the case,” said Liang-Yun Cheng. “They want to drive bottle sales instead of case sales. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we did so well.”
She says, when the team discovered this piece of evidence, they were able to strategize and change their game plan to target the goals of their audience.
Riedman added that the concentration and individual attention students receive at Robins puts them ahead of students in larger programs.
“Our experience here at the Robins School has been very intimate in every class setting, and I think that’s really what got us to being one of the top three finalists,” Riedman said.
And Katie Sanders explained this was her most beneficial experience at the University so far because of the bond she formed with her teammates.
“Everyone was devoted to the effort, and it was a really unique experience working with a group of people that was motivated toward a shared goal,” Sanders said.
The team made it to the final round, ultimately placing third among their competitors. The team took home a cash prize of $1,000 for their placement.
This is the eighth year that Robins students have participated in the event, and Monika Kukar-Kinney, chair of the marketing department at Robins, says it is integral to putting Richmond on the map.
“It’s an opportunity for University of Richmond to showcase our students’ talent,” Kukar-Kinney said. “Our students can do just as well as they could in a larger school, but they’re getting more attention in the small setting.”