Students participate in Speed Sell Competition

Samantha Vise, Staff Writer

The Steele Center for Professional Selling at the University of North Alabama held their career summit on March 8. The event was located in the Guillot University Center Banquet Halls from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. 

The day kicked off with a Speed Sell Competition. For the first two rounds, each student was matched with a judge, and then rotated through all three judges at their table to give a 90-second sales pitch. The pitch needed to be a personal statement about the student and why they should be hired. Essentially, what the students were selling was themselves. 

“The competition that we’re having today is called a Speed Sell,” said Brian Morgan, the Manager of Sales Partnerships and Experiential Learning at UNA. “The primary role for [faculty] is to facilitate an opportunity for our students to come and meet with our corporate sponsors, and today we have twelve. These sponsors give money to the Steel Center for Professional Selling, which is located in the College of Business and Technology. The Speed Sell is a 60 to 90 minute personal commercial to these business leaders to help them understand why the student is a good prospect for hiring.”

The winners from each table in rounds one and two then moved on to the finals. For the final round, the students were paired with a new judge, and then proceeded to give their pitch to all the remaining judges in the room. 

“We have sponsors that come in – these are all different size companies that come in and they donate money, time and people so that they can work with our students to teach them what is needed in their corporate environment to get a job,” Morgan said. “It’s all about experiential learning. It’s all about repetition. It’s about putting students in a place where they’re uncomfortable. When they do that, it puts them in the right spot so that when they graduate they can walk up to anyone and give them that commercial about themselves.”

According to Morgan, the Speed Sell is something that his students are used to. They regularly travel to compete in these sales competitions against other universities. Competition usually ranges from 40-75 different universities.

“We’ve been going back to back in these other sales competitions and we’ve done really well,” Morgan said. “We’ve placed in the top ten in most of these events, or scored very very well compared to other universities. We’re making a difference. We’re doing some things that we think will build upon sales in a corporate engagement, which is really what we’re teaching. If we can teach them this sales process for corporate engagement then they can really relate in any industry that they’ll go into.” 

The top three winners of the competition received a price at the end of the day. Possible prizes included Apple Airpods, a Keurig coffee maker, a Nintendo Switch Lite and a Stanley 40 oz. Tumbler. 

“I always love doing our little competitions, we have a few internal ones a year,” said Joseph Agustus, a senior majoring in Finance and Marketing with Sales who won third place in the competition. “I’m on the Sales Team for UNA and we travel and compete and do a lot more all over, but this one’s good and it’s always fun. It freshens up your interviewing skills with such a quick pitch. It trains you to feel less awkward when meeting new people and explaining why you’d be a good hire.” 

The students seemed exhausted, yet excited as they left the Speed Sell Competition.

“My experience has been amazing,” said Nicolas Walker, the second place winner. “It’s really great that all these companies come out because people don’t usually get the opportunity to meet companies and get job offers before they graduate. I’ve been able to meet a lot of companies today and put my skills to the test in front of them and show them what I got. It’s been a great day.” 

After the competition, students, staff and sponsors filed into one of the banquet halls for a catered lunch. During lunch, a discussion panel was held. Two sponsors – one from ALKU and one from Fastenal – were joined by UNA’s Dr. Justin Carter in sitting on the panel. 

“We’re having a panel discussion about career advice and sales,” Carter said about the panel. “We’re going to answer questions from the students and we’ll start out with a general conversation about ways to prepare for resumes and job interviews and things like that.”  

During lunch, students were encouraged to sit with sponsors and continue networking. Staff members were also walking through the aisles and hyping students up for the remainder of the day. 

“I always enjoy coming to this event,” said Dean Moore. “The past two years, I’ve done it more on the student side, and it’s always great getting to talk to the different companies that support the Steele Sales Center, which I’m also a part of. This year I’m getting to do it more on the business side and it’s great to see how things are run and how students connect to the work life after college.” 

The day ended with the Round Table Career Fair. The other banquet hall was filled with twelve round tables. At each table sat representatives from each of the twelve corporate sponsors, including Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Enterprise Holdings, Sherwin-Williams and more. 

 Students were given a Round Table Passport where they could collect stamps from each table that they spoke with during the event. For every stamp a student received, they were entered into a drawing to win some of the prizes mentioned previously.  

“These round tables are set up so that students can sit down and have a conversation with these sponsors,” Morgan said. “They can tell the students about the organization, the culture and about any other opportunities that they have. They do discuss some range of salary and a vision of what’s possible at their firm for the student after graduation.” 

Morgan’s goal, along with the rest of the Steel Center for Professional Selling, is to prepare students for life after graduation. The center aims to equip students with the skills needed to succeed in a professional, corporate environment.