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Students take high honors in national sales competition

Jan. 12, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Two students in the Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business placed in the top three individually in a national sales competition, with the team placing second out of 20 teams.

Ilyssa Golani, of Northville, Mich., took second out of 48 students in the "Speed Selling" component in the Russ Berrie Institute National Collegiate Sales Challenge held at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., in November. Fellow WMU student Josh Breshgold, of Farmington Hills, Mich., took third out of 48 students on the "In-Basket Sales" component.

The team score, calculated with both Golani and Breshgold's combined scores in different categories, was enough to place WMU second in the overall competition.

"It feels great walking away from the competition with a second place win, both individually and as a team," says Golani, "but what I really won was a wonderful experience. Through this opportunity, I learned more about myself and have gained more confidence in my sales ability. I could not have had this experience anywhere else."

Breshgold also got a lot out of the competition.

"Competing in the RBI National Sales Challenge was by far the most rewarding experience of my college career," Breshgold says. "The intense preparation we had prior to competing helped our team place second in the nation, a great achievement for ourselves and for the Western Michigan University community as a whole. This was a perfect end to my time here at WMU, and I'm now ready to begin my career in business."

The students competed in three categories. In the "Sales Call Role-Play," individual students interacted with a business executive in a 15-minute, sales call role-play scenario. The "Speed Selling" event required students to create and prepare a two-minute sales pitch to executives about why a company should hire the student and, in the "In-Basket Sales Exercise," students worked under a short deadline to sort and prioritize information.

"I was very proud of our students and the work that they did," says Dr. James Eckert, WMU associate professor of marketing and advisor to the group.

WMU has competed in each of the three years the competition has been in existence. In 2007, WMU placed third as a team, with Chelsea Biermacher, a 2007 graduate in business administration, taking first as an individual.

"Although we didn't place in 2008, this year we came away with three trophies," Eckert says.

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Media contact: Valorie Juergens, (269) 387-5964, valorie.juergens@wmich.edu

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