Student business team trumps regional competition

By Julia Corrigan

There were two to four judges, nine other competitors and a camcorder recording everything when Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE) participated in a marketing and development competition at PSE’s two-day Northeast Regional Conference on Oct. 30-31.

In this challenge, called the Pro-Am Sell-A-Thon, students like Mike Cong, senior global supply chain management major, and Devon Downs, senior economics major, had 12 minutes to sell a case to a buyer, adapting to the buyer’s objections or problems.

For the competition in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Cong became a seller for MultiView, a digital marketing company. The company he was trying to sell to was LiveRoof, a hybrid green roof company.

PSE is an organization that focuses on preparing students for the marketing, sales and management industry and has many benefits, according to Downs. Despite being business-oriented, the organization welcomes students from every major. 

“What we had to do is sell a couple of packages from MultiView to LiveRoof,” said Cong. “But during the actual competition, the buyer is going to have some objections or problems. For instance, [the buyer] is not able to make the final decision about being able to purchase our product, the buyer has a low marketing budget, or the buyer could say their business is doing great right now and doesn’t need our help.”

However, the seller is not supposed to talk the whole time, according to Cong. Both the buyer and seller have the goal to talk through questions and needs of both parties. Then, the seller delivers the sales pitch to try to convince the buyer.

Both Cong and Downs were chosen as finalists out of about 30 other participants. They were judged on their entire presentation, including their sales pitch, the way they spoke, whether they could close and if they could close the sale within the 12-minute time limit. 

In addition to this selling competition, attendees of the conference also had the opportunity to participate in a marketing challenge, public speaking competition, career fair and workshops as well as attend speeches and network with companies and peers.

This year’s host school was The College of New Jersey, and the conference took place at a Sheraton. Seven students from Rider attended.

Other colleges at the conference were the University of Connecticut and Byrant University.

One of the advantages students can gain from PSE is professional development, Downs said.

“We bring in a number of highly competitive companies from many industries,” Downs said. “They teach our members different lessons that they can bring into the workforce.”

In addition, PSE holds several workshops and classes a year to equip members with the skills needed for future careers.

“Right now we have 100 percent job placement in our members,” Downs said. “There’s also scholarship opportunities. Last year, PSE gave out $60,000 in scholarships.”

Besides the regional conference, chapters of PSE travel to a different location each year for the national competition. This year, it is being held in Milwaukee. In the past three years, it has been held in Houston, Miami and San Diego.

At the conventions, members of PSE are able to meet with other highly motivated students and create bonds that last a lifetime.

“You make these connections, and they turn out to be friends,” Downs said. “I’ve met people from all over the country that I still talk to, even though I met them two years ago. I was only able to talk to them for a couple of days and I still talk to them on a regular basis.”

The competitions PSE participates in prepare students when it comes to getting a job, Downs said.

“The conferences give you that edge over your competition because you’re fighting for a spot,” he said. “If you have this experience compared to someone who doesn’t, an employer is mostly going to contact you.”

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