Past Events

Sales Student Spotlight: Kevin Marzo

Kevin Marzo

Hickory Hills, Illinois

Mechanical Engineering

How did you get involved with the Center for Professional Selling?
I went door-to-door for Dish over the summer and I had a friend who worked in the Center for Professional Selling last year.

What internships have you completed during your time here at Purdue?
I have only done the DishOne internship last year; it was door-to-door sales.

What are your plans after graduation?
I would like to work for a prosthetics company and develop new prosthetics.

What are your career goals?
I would eventually like to run a prosthetics company somewhere down the line.

How has developing your sales skills helped with your engineering coursework and/or career goals?
My sales skills have allowed me to talk to other people much easier. I have been able to build rapport with new people and exceed in interviews. Also, I believe it will be very important down the road, because the better you can explain something, whether it be a product or idea, the better you would be able to get someone on board with the idea. I can have the best resume in the world but if I cannot interview well, my chances of landing that job greatly diminish.

Do you have any advice for other engineering students who might be interested in a career in technical sales?
Do it. Get a job in sales somewhere and really learn how to communicate with others. It's an incredibly important area a lot of people forget about. You are the bridge between all of the technical work and the average person who does not understand the technical speak.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Sales Competition

Held on Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Purdue Center for Professional Selling
Summary prepared by Megan Billman and Ryan Burvan, Sales Interns

On Monday, February 20, we had a great start to our sales competition with Hewlett Packard Enterprise with Rich Shutt and Tatiana Saffouri talking about the sales competition case and HPE as a company. Rich had a great conversation with the competitors about IT in today’s world and how certain cities and companies are trying to implement technology in ways we haven’t seen before. We concluded our night with a cherry pie eating contest, in honor of national cherry pie day! The competition was won by Engineering student Kevin Marzo!

four students wearing plastic napkins


On Tuesday, February 21, there was an information session about the competition hosted by HPE to review the scenario and answer any questions that the competitors had. This was a great opportunity for the students to understand how the solutions that HPE was selling worked and also to get a better understanding of what they do in their careers.

On Wednesday, March 22, 41 students participated in the competition. This was one of the largest number of participants we have had to date! The objective of the role-play was to learn about HPE’s business and sell how their processes are necessities for many businesses. All of the students felt very confident after competing and really seemed to enjoy the feedback they got back from the employees. The HPE representatives included Richard Shutt, Derrick Corso, Tatiana Saffouri and Matthew Eckelbarger.

While students were waiting to compete, they embraced one of the Center’s most important values — service. They created “Cards of Encouragement” for the children at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. At the end of the day, we had upwards of 40 cards to send to the hospital to make a child’s day just a little bit brighter!

female and male student holding signs saying be strong

After the competition, the participants and HPE representatives attended the awards banquet (hosted in the Steam Room, Purdue Honors College) to eat a great meal and celebrate the competition. The results for the competition were as follows:

After dinner the awards were presented. Congratulations to our sales competition winners. They included:

  • Penny Brown, 1st place
  • Nichole Marchand, 2nd place
  • Esha Pande, 3rd place

students holding certificates

We are so thankful for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise partnership! Also, thank you to all the competitors for participating with outstanding work!

SMC Sales Competition

Held on Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Purdue Center for Professional Selling
Summary prepared by Alex Nicoson 

Sometimes business to business selling isn’t always smiles and handshakes. In the SMC spring sales competition, competitors learned this exact sentiment in a challenging but ultimately rewarding sales situation. SMC is a subsidiary of the SMC Corporation based in Japan. They are an industry leading manufacturer of pneumatic technologies. For a selling and sales major who can barely change a tire on his car, I know as much about “pneumatics” as I know about aeronautical engineering or astrophysics. With that being said, I knew learning about SMC and the products it had to offer would be an arduous task! Upon attending the information session, I was thrown for a loop even further. Instead of the standard sales call, we would be meeting with our potential buyer in a “damage control” situation. In this case, our buyer already had past orders with SMC that had undergone delayed delivery. Thus, the goal of our meeting was not necessarily to sell pneumatic parts, but instead to sell ourselves as a solution provider to reclaim our buyer’s trust.

My goal in preparing for the competition was to research as much as possible with regards to SMC and the hypothetical buyer, ACME Automotive Solutions. Additionally, I tried to brainstorm various ways in which I could provide value to my buyer and be a transparent and reliable point of contact. While it was my first outside sales competition at Purdue, I tried to remain calm and confident in the actual sales call. Within the first minute of the call I was completely immersed in my role as the seller and the jitters managed to fade away. Even though I made my fair share of mistakes throughout the call, it was an awesome learning experience that will contribute to my development as a professional seller. The feedback I received from the SMC judges was very informative, insightful and constructive for future improvement. My one recommendation or tip for others thinking about competing in these sales competitions would be to prepare. I know it sounds simple, but learning about your hypothetical company, buyer and industry will go a long way toward a successful sales call. Thorough and comprehensive preparation and organization shows your buyer that you mean business and are genuinely there to accommodate his/her specific needs.

students holding certificates

Putting yourself out there in these mock sales calls can be intimidating and unnerving. The best way to overcome your fears, however, is to take them head on and give them your best shot. No one expects you to be perfect, but if you hold yourself accountable, put in the time and effort, and do the research, the odds are positive results will come your way. Mistakes will happen, and some will be more embarrassing and frustrating than others. With that in mind, learning from these mistakes and gaining this invaluable experience will only help you for future selling endeavors upon graduation. The SMC sales competition was a truly great experience and I would recommend future participation to all students!

man and woman making a presentation in front of group

Special thanks to our partner, SMC, for an exciting and challenging sales competition!

Sales Student Spotlight: Geri Denger

Geri Denger

Carmel, Indiana

I am majoring in Selling and Sales Management with minors in Law and Society, Peace Studies, and Communication.

How did you get involved with the Center for Professional Selling and how have you benefited from it?
I have done mock interviews and sales competitions with the Center for Professional Selling. I have benefited from this by being able to receive valuable feedback on my communication and interpersonal skills.

What internships have you completed during your time here at Purdue?
During my time at Purdue, I have worked as a Student Life intern for Purdue’s Office of Student Life. This coming summer, I will be working as a Sales and Marketing intern at Mimir.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to go on to law school.

What are your career goals?
I would love to be a civil rights lawyer.

Do you have any advice for other students around campus who might be interested in a career in sales?
My advice for other students who might be interested in a career in sales is to simply go talk to some employees and students at the Purdue Center for Professional Selling! All of the Sales department is very helpful with finding students fun ways to explore a sales career.

Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition

Held on Wednesday, January 26, 2017
Purdue Center for Professional Selling
Summary prepared by Morgan Vastag 

We are all always selling something. If it is not a product, service or idea, then it is ourselves. As a new competitor, it is understandable that I saw my first sales competition sponsored by Northwestern Mutual as a somewhat daunting task. I had never done a role-play, nor had I learned anything about sales beyond the basics. The good news was that this competition was structured a little differently from the other competitions; this was more of an interview than a sales call.

The Task: Convince Northwestern Mutual to hire you as a wealth management advisor. Essentially, we were products that we were trying to sell.

female student on stage and handing an award to male student

Awards Banquet: The awards banquet was held at Mad Mushroom, which created a relaxed atmosphere that we used to network with the Northwestern Mutual employees. After an hour or so of chatting with the Northwestern Mutual employees about their careers, opportunities at Northwestern Mutual and any advice they might be able to give us, the awards were presented. The awards were:

  • Morgan Vastag, 1st Place, $150
  • Evan McSorley, 2nd Place, $125
  • Penny Brown, 3rd Place, $100

How to succeed as a first-time sales competitor:

  • Research. You need to be able to set yourself apart as a first-time competitor. Why? Because you are going up against people who have years of experience on you. They will be calmer than you are and know the sales process better than you do. Since you cannot beat your competitors based on skill, you have to beat them with your research, preparation and sheer will power. Show your customer that you care enough to dedicate your time to understanding their business, and they will care enough to hear you out and consider what you have to say to them.
  • Run through your sales call with a living, breathing person. Researching is a useful, necessary strategy; however, there is nothing that compares to the value of performing your sales call with another person. Practicing with someone else does two things for you. First, it allows you to practice your presentation out loud under a little bit of pressure. And second, it gives you the chance to practice being adaptable.
    You need to try to replicate the scenario if you want to do well. The odds of you waltzing into a sales call without any nerves and meeting with a customer that behaves according to plan are slim at the very best. Make sales into muscle memory by practicing the sales call under pressure with people who will force you to make your game plan adaptable.
  • Focus on learning, not on perfection. It is impossible for you to lose a sales competition. Either you win and you get to go home with a prize, or you do not win and you have the privilege of using the critiques you received from your judges to improve your performance for the next competition. Your foundation as a salesperson is not composed of your wins. Your foundation is composed of the critiques and failures that gave you the opportunity to learn and ultimately improve yourself.

students holding certificates

These competitions are challenging and nerve-wracking, but the opportunity for improvement far overshadows whatever discomfort is felt before the competition. The representatives from Northwestern Mutual were encouraging, and were truly there simply to make us better. Everyone walked away from this competition with the knowledge to improve their sales ability and to be a little more prepared for the next competition.

Sales Student Spotlight: Gregory Phillips

Greg Phillips

Atlanta, Georgia

Selling and Sales Management

How did you get involved with the Center for Professional Selling and how have you benefited from it?
After taking Dr. Dale's CSR 232, she asked me if I would be interested in learning how to become more of a salesman and I agreed. After that day, I have been coming to the Center more often to expand my network and to further enhance my skills as a salesman.

How has being a D1 athlete contributed to your sales experience? 
Being a D1 athlete has widened my awareness on how to treat people and talk to people to achieve a common goal. It is not the easiest thing to do, but I look forward to all of the challenges to help me develop as a God-fearing man.

What are your plans after graduation?
If the NFL does not work, I will invest my time with training people and learning how to be a pharmaceutical salesman. Particularly, Zimmer Tech is a potential company I will want to work for.

What are your career goals?
My career goals are to make it to the NFL, become the best salesman, own my own gym and restaurant, continue the foundation of Pink Roses (people with breast cancer), and eventually I want to start my own clothing line or brand.

Do you have any advice for other students around campus who might be interested in a career in sales?
Presentation before conversation. How you look is an exemplification if someone will talk to you because your appearance is the first thing they see. First, impressions are huge because people always remember them. And second, always speak to people and give them a firm handshake. The little things make the big things.

Sales Student Spotlight: Laura Beck 

Laura Beck

Lomita, California (just south of Los Angeles)

Selling and Sales Management with minor in Psychology, Senior graduating May 2017

How did you get involved with the Center for Professional Selling and how have you benefited from it?
I got involved when I entered the Sales Program, the start of my junior year. I have benefited from the Center immensely, from the connections I have made, to professionalism gained, and all the good sales habits and practices I’ve picked up on through sales center activities. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What internships have you completed during your time here at Purdue?
I’ve completed two internships. The first was during a study abroad in Lima, Peru, with the not-for-profit, Nexos Comunitarios. The second was a sales internship with Eli Lilly, based out in California.

What are your plans after graduation?
I’ll be continuing my sales experience with Eli Lilly as a full-time sales rep after graduation.

What are your career goals?
Getting an MBA is on my five-year radar, but the rest is unwritten! Excited to see where life takes me.

Do you have any advice for other students around campus who might be interested in a career in sales?
Get involved with the Purdue Center for Professional Selling. Network as much as possible with your peers, professors and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. It's the best way to learn.