Sales students place second overall in national competition

Contact: Cindy Wagner
Photo of WMU business marketing students Tyler Hughey and Marissa Bruno.

Hughey and Bruno

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A team of two Western Michigan University business students recently placed second overall at the E & J Gallo Winery Collegiate Sales Competition.

To earn the second-place spot, Marissa Bruno and Tyler Hughey, both sales and business marketing students, edged out teams from Arizona State, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Kansas, Kansas State and University of Missouri to claim first place and $1,200 in the marketing case portion of the competition. Hughey placed second in the individual sales role play portion. The combined scores placed them second overall. 

"Marissa and Tyler made a formidable team," says Dr. Kelley O'Reilly, associate professor of marketing and advisor to the duo. "True to the sales tradition of Broncos, both displayed a great openness to each other's views, rolled up their sleeves, and brainstormed and executed the challenge."

In the case competition, teams built a marketing campaign for one of E & J Gallo's struggling wine brands and presented a plan to improve sales. Teams were evaluated based on their creativity, practicality of ideas and presentation skills.

"Our creativity, strategies, hard work and practice helped us stand out," says Bruno. "In addition, our research, data and visual aids really gave us an edge. A lot of the teams had great ideas but were lacking the proof to show how it would raise sales for the brand."

In the role-play, students were judged on their approach, success at identifying the customer’s needs and objections, communication style and ability to close the deal.   

"The models and strategies I learn in my WMU coursework prepare me to think on my feet better," says Hughey. "Practicing role-plays in our sales classes gave me confidence going in to the competition."

WMU's Sales and Business Marketing Program

The WMU sales and business marketing program is one of just a handful of programs in the U.S. that offers an undergraduate degree focused on selling and sales management. The program is noted for:

  • Student competition successes—Over the last 10 years, teams from WMU have regularly placed in the top five in major sales competitions.  
  • Sales lab—The sales program includes recorded role-plays in a dedicated sales lab that is slated for expansion this year. 
  • Sales and Business Marketing Association—The association is one of the largest and most active student organizations in the college with more than 150 members. The SBMA engages with industry by hosting a group of employers at each weekly meeting.
  • Study abroad—Sales students are one of the largest groups at WMU to study abroad.
  • National recognition—The program is listed as No. 1 on the list of Top U.S. Sales Schools with a Specialized Sales Program by

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