Students Battle Clock to Impress Employers in Speed Sell Competition
Feb. 19, 2014
Marketing senior Grant Tonne makes his pitch to a corporate representative at the recent speed sell competition in the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Tonne was the winner.
It’s hard enough to make a good first impression in a job interview. But what if you have only two minutes to show your stuff?
Eighteen students gave it their best shot at a recent speed sell competition in a Naveen Jindal School of Management (JSOM) classroom.
Students dressed in business attire rotated through two-minute job interviews with a dozen participating corporate executives and recruiters. A teaching assistant signaled when each meeting started and stopped. The pros gave their feedback after each pitch.
The students are enrolled in Dr. Howard Dover’s advanced sales class. Dover, clinical professor of marketing, joined UT Dallas in 2012 to expand the professional sales curriculum and launch the Professional Sales Concentration. The Jindal School is an associate member school of the University Sales Center Alliance.
Dover said the speed sell competition gives students a head start on being recruited and prepares them for national competitions. Last year, the program’s students consistently placed in the top 10 at several competitions.
After several rounds at the recent speed sell, marketing senior Grant Tonne made his way to a seat facing Craig Shacklett. Shacklett MS’13 is a manager of inside sales for Plano-based CA Technologies.
“How are you doing?” Tonne asked as he greeted Shacklett with a smile. The 24-year-old proceeded to tell Shacklett how lessons he learned from playing junior hockey have influenced him. Tonne also said his passion for sales stems from working at an electronics store, where he said he holds numerous sales records.
Tonne, who plans to graduate in December, got to his close: “Is there any reason you wouldn’t hire me at CA Technologies?”
'It's a Good Chance for Students to Differentiate Themselves'
Tiffany McGowen (left), director of recruiting for Paycom, gives feedback to Megan Leppez, a marketing senior who placed second in the competition.
The interviews may be short, but corporate representatives said they are long enough to determine whether they would like to bring the student in for an interview.
Tiffany McGowen, director of recruiting for Paycom, an Oklahoma payroll and HR technology firm, drove from Oklahoma to participate after being impressed with JSOM sales students at previous national events.
McGowen said she looks for people with a “strong sense of self.”
“They can effectively communicate their successes and how their experience directly relates to the opportunity at hand,” McGowen said. She said the students who stood out at the speed sell showed confidence through their posture, eye contact and handshakes; they also were able to quantify and qualify their achievements, she said.
How to Make Every Second Count in an Interview
The pros at the JSOM speed sell event gave tips that could help anyone land the job:
- Stay on point. Don't wander into other subjects.
- Talk about why you want to work for my company.
- Be genuine.
- Bring me into your world. Tell me a story.
- Make sure you get to your close.
- Be results-oriented.
- Quantify and qualify.
- Think about what you want me to remember about you.
- Think about what the employer wants to hear and try to look at all the experience you have through that frame. Talk about your experience and explain why it would be important to a company.
After collecting a stack of business cards, Shacklett said he met several potential job candidates. CA Technologies plans to hire 20 employees, and Shacklett expects four or five to come from UT Dallas. He said the company already has hired two recent graduates.
“It’s short, but it’s a good chance for students to differentiate themselves,” Shacklett said. “You see who can bring that positive energy right away.”
Senior Megan Leppez brought plenty of energy despite juggling a full-time class load and a 60-hour a week job as a restaurant general manager.
“I’m really great at talking to people,” Leppez told Shacklett, adding that she likes sales. Leppez plans to graduate in December with a degree in marketing.
When Leppez’s time was up, Shacklett congratulated her.
“Awesome job,” he said.
The pros were given forms to grade each student’s performance. Later that day, Dover announced the top students. The winner of the speed sell was Tonne. Leppez came in second.
Of course, a job offer would be the ultimate victory. Dover said two students accepted jobs with companies that participated in the speed sell last year.
Tonne received at least one promising response.
Shacklett told Tonne he may have a spot for a summer internship.
“Let’s talk,” Shacklett said.