Business Jayhawks find success at Challenger Sales Institute Sales Competition

Katie Rhodes, Lexi O’Malley, Andrew Miller, Kristen Helling, Nick Pastuovic, Auhanna Harding and Annelisse Heinichen

Six KU School of Business students participated in the Challenger Sales Institute Sales Competition last week. The competition, which was held Feb. 28 through March 2 in Oklahoma City, offered students an opportunity to practice their selling skills with industry buyers and judges.

The KU team included Business Jayhawks Auhanna Harding, Annelisse Heinichen, Andrew Miller, Lexi O’Malley, Nick Pastuovic and Katie Rhodes. They were advised by Kristen Helling, lecturer and academic liaison for the school’s Professional Selling Program.

KU competed against nine other universities in a series of events, including a role play challenge, an ethics team competition, a sales management team competition and a speed selling round, all centered on Paycom, a company offering payroll and HR software solutions and the competition’s sponsor.

Winners from the KU School of Business were:

  • Auhanna Harding and Katie Rhodes, who placed second in the ethics team competition;
  • Andrew Miller and Nick Pastuovic, who placed third in the sales management team competition;
  • Auhanna Harding, who placed fifth out of 60 students in the speed selling round.

The team also tied for first place in the team challenge where teams pitched themselves to employers at a sales career fair during the event.

Participants were given advanced notice about the speed selling round, which required them to make a 90-second pitched about themselves to get an interview at Paycom, but the ethics and sales management teams did not receive information about their challenges until noon Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Helling noted that although the students didn’t have much time to prepare for some of the specific challenges, they thoroughly researched Paycom and its competitors ahead of time, which contributed to their success.

“We were fortunate to have a group of very passionate, caring, hardworking Jayhawks that represented KU well,” she said.

Rhodes, a sophomore studying marketing and journalism, said she and Harding started preparing Thursday and delivered their presentation Friday, but they weren’t deterred by the quick turnaround. In fact, Rhodes appreciated the competition’s fast pace and said the experience was amazing, noting that the bond the team had was one of the highlights.

Meeting new people also stood out for Harding, who is a junior studying business administration at KU Edwards Campus and doesn’t always have the chance to work with Lawrence-based students.

“Being a part of this team allowed me to interact with other peers who are also passionate about sales,” she explained. Harding currently works as a sales consultant and said the competition made a real impact on her.

“So many judges and other peers gave me feedback that I will be able to use in my current career,” she added.

Beyond providing experience, Helling said the competition gave the students confidence in their sales abilities.

“This competition allowed these students to see that they can take on really hard sales situations and perform well,” Helling said. “I hope that this experience encourages each of them to pursue a career in sales even more.”