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Business major wins national sales competition

Dec. 1, 2007

KALAMAZOO--A student at Western Michigan University has taken top honors in a national sales competition and was one-half of a WMU team that placed third.

Chelsea Biermacher, a senior in the WMU sales and business marketing program from Middleville, Mich., was the overall individual winner in the Russ Berrie Institute National Collegiate Sales Challenge held Nov. 10 at William Paterson University in Paterson, N.J.

A second WMU student, Kyle Kiefer, who is from Lansing, Mich., and also a senior majoring in sales and business marketing, rounded out the two-member WMU team placing third out of 15 schools. John Idema an instructor in the sales and business marketing program, accompanied the students.

Biermacher received instant acclaim for her win and was interviewed by Selling Power magazine for an upcoming article.

"My success at the RBI National Sales Challenge was because of the quality of the SBM program as well as the faculty support," Biermacher told Sales Power. "I really enjoyed the competition portion and was proud to represent WMU and the SBM program."

Students were judged in three competitive events. First, individual students interacted with a business executive in a 15-minute, sales call role-play scenario. The second event required a student to create and prepare a two-minute sales pitch to executives about why a company should hire the student. In the final exercise, students worked under a short deadline to sort and prioritize information.

Participants were then judged on their approach, ability to identify a customer's needs, handling objections from prospects, communication and presentation and closing the next appointment. The combined points from team members resulted in the team's placement at the event.

"Our success flows from the techniques we teach and the great dedication and effort on the part of our students," says Dr. James Eckert, director of the sales and business marketing program. "Great students like Chelsea and Kyle can adopt the ethical and effective selling techniques we teach and sell as well as a seasoned professional. So it is no surprise they did so well in the competition. They will excel similarly when they take those same skills and techniques to the marketplace."

Participating in this and other national competitions allows students to hone their selling skills, says Dr. Steve Newell, chair of the WMU Department of Marketing.

"It also gives employers a chance to interact with future sales leaders," Newell says. "In addition to winning this sales challenge, SBM students earned a top ranking at a national competition this past spring. Our strong showing in both events is another indication of the quality of our sales program."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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