A team of five Robins School students won the National Team Selling Competition at Indiana University over fall break.

Lily Howlett, ’19, Paige Moynihan, ’19, Torey Walsh, ‘19, Dejon Brissett, ’19, and Xavier McCormick, ’20, received the case two weeks before the competition, and met every other day to strategize.

“We worked mostly in Q&A sessions with our coaches,” Brissett said, “then we analyzed the case for new findings on our own in between practices.”

Here’s how the competition works: each team receives a product that they have 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 $3000.

The case this year focused on a ready to drink tea product called Calm Coolers.

“Our team's job was to convince the owner and marketing director of Champion Convenience Stores that they should continue carrying two flavors of our product in their stores and begin selling two additional flavors,” Howlett said.

The case mentioned a decrease in sales, and the product was in jeopardy of removal from shelves.

“We identified what we thought were the main causes for the decrease in sales and made our question list off of those,” Brissett said. “The night before our presentation to the judges, we stayed up past midnight putting our pitch together, making sure we addressed every concern.”

But those weren’t the only obstacles the team faced in the competition. Brissett had recently undergone surgery for a football injury, and Xavier McCormick had a torn ACL, which put both of them on crutches during the competition. But their teammate, Paige Moynihan, said it only made them stronger.

“Our team really embodied a growth mindset while we dealt with the variety of obstacles that faced us leading up to the competition,” Moynihan said. “Regardless of what was thrown at us, we used it to make us stronger as a team and I think that played a large part into our success.” 

The other members agreed that despite these personal stressors, the team came together and remained upbeat and positive throughout the process. The team competed against 23 schools from around the country, including University of Virginia, Penn State, Purdue, and University of Kansas. In the final round, Richmond prevailed against Michigan State and Indiana.

Jeff Carlson, assistant professor of marketing, coached the team in the weeks prior to the competition, with Adam Marquardt, associate professor of marketing, and Bill Bergman, instructor in marketing. Carlson and Bergman accompanied the team to Indianapolis.

“Since the team members were enrolled in Professional Selling, they really started to prepare the first day of semester,” Carlson said. “We used cases similar to the competition during that class, which provided a chance to practice selling techniques and to become familiar with how to analyze a case and practice how to pitch a solution. This is important since winning teams need to balance their case analysis with an effective solution presentation and pitch.”

Carlson had coached teams to third and second place in the previous two years, so he knew he and the students wanted to place first for the Robins School this year.

“Because of our recent success from the previous two years, we were able to leverage what we learned when we placed second and third. Alumni from the previous two years even helped the team practice. This knowledge really provided an advantage,” Carlson said.

Carlson said this was the most competitive team he has ever coached, which he thinks gave them the drive to win first place, and Brissett agreed.

“Our personalities on the team really balanced each other out. We were competing against schools that have sales programs, but our team presented itself in a way that can't be taught. We were personable and natural,” Brissett said. “When they announced us as the winners it was a feeling of accomplishment, knowing all the work we put in had paid off. Now we get to say we're the best sales team in the nation.”

The team members believe the win is a reflection on the coaches, who expected nothing but first place out of the stellar team.

The Indiana University National Team Selling Competition invites students from all over the country to compete, and is designed to give students a real-life selling scenario before they enter the professional job market. You can learn more about the previous competitions that the Robins School placed in here.