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SOMERS - University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduate students Phillip LaBar and Ashley Marchetti took home the championship title in the graduate division at the 19th National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Founded in 1999, NCSC is the largest and oldest sales role-play competition of its kind with the goal of enhancing the practice and professionalism of the sales career.
This is Parkside's second win at the competition. The past four years have included a National Sales Challenge championship, a National Team Sales Competition championship, and five awards at the Kennesaw State University National Collegiate Sales Competition. The business department now holds over 36 national sales and marketing awards.
This year's competition took place from March 31 to April 3.
In the undergraduate competition, UW-Parkside students Jack Nickeas and Shannon Geaslin finished in the top 20 percent out of 67 teams.
The students credited their success to dedication and strong teamwork. The Parkside Team, (both the undergrads and grads) had a motivating team phrase. Whenever one of the teammates was feeling insecure or doubtful, someone on the team would say, "Cookies are for Closers!" They would all laugh, reset, and become more optimistic.
Marchetti first became involved with the UW-Parkside sales program when Associate Professor of Business Dr. Peter Knight sent an email asking if any students were interested in participating. "At the time, I didn't realize how big of an opportunity it would become and I am glad that I took the chance to try," she said.
Unlike Marchetti, LaBar was not directly involved in the sales program. Another MBA student had been looking for a partner for several months. Early February came around and the deadline was quickly approaching. LaBar decided to help out. Coincidentally, the day after he joined the team, the first student had to withdraw due to a family emergency. Marchetti then stepped in as his partner.
Both students faced a different set of challenges. "While I prepared for NCSC, I actually had a very difficult time roleplaying at first," Marchetti said. "I would freeze and forget everything that I knew about the case and the product. My teammate and professor were incredibly supportive and helped me to get over that hurdle which ultimately led me to taking 1st in my round."
LaBar says, "As a software engineer I had no experience in sales. Learning what is involved with selling at a professional level was very challenging. Ashley helped me along and was a great supporter."
Both students said the key to their success was listening, playing their strengths, and focusing on structure and format.
When asked about his overall experience, LaBar said, "Amazing. It was fun, exciting and frustrating all at the same time. I learned new skills and gained a new respect for sales professionals."
Marchetti said, "The experience at the NCSC was beyond what I could have imagined. What struck me the most was I was in a campus full of individuals my age who shared my passion for business, drive to become successful and willingness to step out and take a chance. Even though we were all competitors we spoke like friends, eager to learn about each other and discuss our experiences."