Students from the Pro Sales Concentration made an impressive entrance into international competition with several strong performances at the 2019 UK University Sales Competition at Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As the only American team, three UT Dallas recent graduates faced teams from across the United Kingdom over two days in March. Marketing major Tyra Banks won first place in the speed-sell contest, with fellow marketing student Vivanh (Olivia) Keomoungkhoun earning third place. Jordan Murphy, an emerging media and communication major with a minor in marketing, placed second in the role-play competition. All three students graduated in May.
“This was a great inaugural international experience for our sales program,” said Dr. Howard Dover, director of the Center for Professional Sales. “We wanted to add an additional element to our program by joining our friends in Europe and learning about sales in other countries.”
As she competed and attended workshops, Banks enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from around the world and to observe differences between American and European sales. She noticed that Europeans took a more conservative approach to sales, where Americans were more assertive in their efforts. She also felt the UT Dallas sales program was more current in its teachings ─ helping her to rise above the competition.
Using her learned approach, Banks faced about 40 other competitors in the speed sell, where she rotated every two minutes to a new judge and communicated her marketability. She said that while she promoted her involvement at UT Dallas ─ Banks was a member of the women’s basketball team, a teaching assistant and managed corporate sponsors as a student account manager for the Center for Professional Sales ─ it was more than just listing roles.
“The judges told me it was wasn’t just articulating my accomplishments. It was that I showed I genuinely cared about what I was doing,” Banks said. “The repetition of learning in my advanced sales class about how to talk to people and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable really helped me.”
Murphy also credited the focus on preparation and practice in the Pro Sales program for his strong finish in the role-play competition, losing by just one point to a graduate student from Germany.
“We have a funny phrase that we coined called ‘We're going to UTD it.’ That means that we're going to do so much preparation and think about the magnitude of a problem and a solution to their full extents,” Murphy said. “It’s incredible to go into a competitive environment knowing that you’re prepared for whatever they may throw at you.”
Banks, Murphy and Keomoungkhoun are taking this preparation with them as they head into sales programs after graduation. Banks is moving to San Francisco to work for Adobe. She was invited to interview for the position based on her performance at a sales competition in Wisconsin last fall. Murphy accepted a position at Qualtrics in its Software Sales Development Program. Keomoungkhoun accepted a sales role at Fujitsu in Dallas.
“I have been playing basketball my whole life, and most student-athletes struggle with what comes next,” Banks said. “Sales has been my bridge to what else is out there and has helped me to move forward and get the job I have today.”
— Caryn Berardi