Sales competition connects students with employers

The next few months will see Canadian students competing against each other in the Great Canadian Sales Competition, producing sales pitches and demonstrating their ability to market and sell a product or concept.

The competition is an opportunity for students to meet prominent people from large businesses, find potential jobs (over 25 per cent of last year’s contestants were given job offers from sponsors), develop business skills and potentially win thousands of dollars in prizes. Participants gain experience in delivering sales pitches, and are given feedback and guidance from experts on how to work on improving their presentation and sales skills.

“It’s sponsored by tier one companies in Canada like Google and Purolator” said Michael Thomlison, Brock ambassador for the competition. “A lot of people did end up getting jobs with these companies. The prizes are awesome, but what’s even more exciting is the chance to meet these people from these tier one companies, and possibly launch a career.”

Thomlison is one of many local ambassadors that the competition hires to represent schools in Canada. Over 80 schools have ambassadors on campus who are put in place in order to help students with their round one pitches, support students at their school throughout the competition process and raise awareness of the event.

Regardless of whether or not a school has an ambassador, however, the competition is open to all current university and college students in Canada, as long as they are studying at an accredited institution. Thomlison said that students are able to apply regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time students, as long as they are currently enrolled in the school.

In addition to Google and Purolator, the event is also sponsored by large companies such as Dell, IBM, Air Canada and Corus Entertainment. The involvement of these prominent Canadian businesses in the competition means that students who participate have the chance to make important connections with businesspeople in prominent companies.

Local ambassadors for the competition/ greatcanadiansalescompetition.com

Local ambassadors for the competition/ greatcanadiansalescompetition.com

The competition consists of three rounds. In the first round, participants submit videos where they can develop a sales pitch on essentially anything (contestants have pitched on topics ranging from food, to sports, to energy drinks). These videos have been submitted to the contest, and are available for viewing on the competition’s website for anyone who wants to see the pitches.

The competition is more focused around how well individuals present these things, as opposed to what exactly it is that they are pitching. Contestants are therefore encouraged to present on something that they are passionate about and really care about, rather than something they think will impress judges. This approach will allow them to demonstrate the most energy, passion and charisma in their pitches.

“We’ve had pitches from why you should have a beard, to their own companies, to sports teams,” said Thomlison. “They’re passionate about these things. Anyone can craft a good sales pitch; it’s more your charisma, how well you can sell it and how well you can sell yourself… you need to show that energy.”

Anyone successful in the video round will move on to the semi-final round, which runs from Feb. 12 until Feb. 22. In this round, students will work closely with the contest’s sponsors in order to develop their skills. The final round will then take place on March 10, where participants will have to manage a live sales meeting.

Thomlison said that one of the reasons why the contest exists is as a response to high unemployment rates for university graduates. He said that the sponsors and organizers wanted a chance to provide an opportunity for students to develop skills and contacts that could lead to careers for students who might not otherwise be aware of the opportunities that exist in the world of sales.

“The whole reason for it was the undergraduate employment rate,” said Thomlison. “They wanted to provide another outlet to get your name out there and to get yourself into the workforce.”

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In addition to experience and contacts, participants also have the chance to win prizes. The first place winner will receive $7,500 in addition to other perks, and four runners up will receive $1,000.

Anyone interested in learning more about this year’s competition, or possibly in entering future competitions, can check out greatcanadiansalescompetition.com

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