Successful fourth edition of Vlerick Sales Competition leads up to four laureates

On Thursday 16 January the finals of the fourth edition of the Vlerick Sales Competition took place at our Ghent campus. The competition aims to stimulate a real life sales experience and teach students how to successfully overcome potential challenges that lead up to closing a sale. 17 Masters students who made it to the finals after a first selection round last December participated in sales role plays involving 42 senior level sales executives from 24 sponsoring companies.

Claire Cammaert was this year’s winner. Following in her footsteps are Clara Verhoeven, Janne Scheepmans and Tom De Craecker. All four of them did a great job in convincing the jury members of their sales skills. Claire and Clara will proceed straight to the National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) in the US in March, one of the largest sales role play competitions for students worldwide. Runners-up Janne and Tom have the honour of representing Vlerick in the first edition of the European Sales Competition in Poland coming June.

For the winner Claire Cammaert the sales competition helped her to get a clear understanding of what a sales function is like in reality. “One of the most important things I learned was that a sales representative should focus on listening to the customer. It’s really important to get to a win-win situation, so the key is actually to keep the talking to a minimum. You need to show that you understand the customer’s needs and you should try to come up with a solution together.” Second laureate Clara Verhoeven fully agrees with Claire and ads that a good preparation is everything: “You have to know what product you are selling, what you can offer to customers and how to formulate it in an attractive way. Therefore, you have to put yourself in the position of the buyer. Think about what questions they might ask, how they would like to be approached and where the main benefits for the customer lie. But the process of selling doesn’t stop here. You have gain a deep understanding of your customer. What challenges is he facing? How can you help to solve his issues? A good listener definitely has an advantage here.”

The competition opens doors on a career level as well, says Claire. “We have been introduced to a lot of interesting companies, which is a big plus as a graduate on the job hunt!”. Also Clara seized the opportunity to network with the sponsoring companies after the competition: “Some representatives approach you directly. As for others you have to take the first step yourself. It resulted in interesting conversations and possible job opportunities from a broad range of industries and companies you did not consider before.”

Professor Deva Rangarajan who coordinates the sales competition says that the sponsoring companies were very impressed with the quality of our students. “They were amazed at how professionally these young people without any working experience went about it. The scores were very close and it was very difficult for the jury members to decide on who were the best students. Finally, several sales executives admired that Vlerick is continuously working to realise a professional sales education in Belgium, which would be unique.”

About the competition

The Vlerick Sales Competition is the brainchild of Vlerick professor Deva Rangarajan. “To help students develop and improve their practical sales skills, we organise an annual role-play competition. It teaches them how to successfully overcome the potential challenges and close a sale,” explains Deva. The sponsoring companies are not only involved as judges or jury members but also as buyers, participating actively in the role plays together with the students. The competition is open to all Masters students who can participate on a voluntary basis.

During the first round 39 students participated of which 17 made it to the finals. Students were asked to approach the fictitious Belgian SME Vision. The rumour goes that they are looking to change their current CRM system. Students acting as sales representatives of Microsoft Dynamics CRM have to convince the buyer of the advantages of their product and close the deal.

This year’s sponsoring companies are: Coca Cola, Unilever, Microsoft, P&G, Oracle, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrero, Philips, 3M, TE Connectivity, Daikin, Atlas Copco, Cummins, Schneider Electric, Sarens Belgium, Doosan, Attentia, Mondelez International, Jet Import, Johnson & Johnson, Hilti, Bekaert, Brady and Collibra.  

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