Written by Marisa LaBello | Photos by Craig Schreiner
UW-Whitewater students Karlee Nimmer and Jordan Filip on Friday, December 16, 2016, at the Williams Center on campus.
In the last few months, Warhawks in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater sales program have returned victorious from competitions around the country.
UW-Whitewater students dominated the International Collegiate Sales Competition in Orlando, Florida — sponsored by Florida State University — Nov. 2-5. Out of 140 competitors from 60 universities, Kelly Tetzlaff and Karlee Nimmer swept the competition. Tetzlaff took first place, Nimmer won runner-up and their accumulated scores resulted in UW-Whitewater being named top university.
Not only did the team members come home as champions, but together they made history. It was the first time two UW-Whitewater students claimed spots in the final four.
At competitions, students take on the role of sales representatives for a real company. Research conducted by the team helps competitors overcome objections that the judges present in order to close the sale.
"If it wasn't for our team, we couldn't have done it," Nimmer said. "The moment we made history, it felt like the Green Bay Packers had won the Super Bowl."
Nimmer, originally a journalism student, found her true calling in sales during her junior year. When she added a dual-degree in marketing, Jimmy Peltier, director of the Institute for Sales Excellence and professor of marketing, sold her on participating in the networking and job opportunities associated with sales competitions.
Despite her hesitance to compete, Nimmer became a member of the institute and the campus chapter of the American Marketing Association. With 30 competition experiences and four first-place titles under her belt, Nimmer has earned more than $10,000 in prizes, and has traveled around the country during her time in the sales program.
"Without the sales team, I don't know where I would be," Nimmer said. "It has opened up a plethora of opportunities and truly is a dream come true."
Nimmer, a December 2016 graduate from Kewaunee, Wisconsin, was recently featured in UW-Whitewater's Hired Before Graduation campaign. She accepted a job as a regional account executive in Milwaukee at CaraFlow, a company that provides data capture solutions to health care providers.
Shannon Cummins is an assistant professor of marketing, associate director of the Institute for Sales Excellence, and co-adviser for the American Marketing Association.
While the Institute for Sales Excellence triumphed in Orlando, the sales program celebrated another victory when five Warhawks claimed the top spots at the Ferris State Sales Competition on Nov. 4. The American Marketing Association sales team upheld the winning streak the same weekend at the Perfect Sales Pitch Competition at the University of South Florida. Senior Jordan Filip from Minocqua, Wisconsin, placed first.
Filip, vice president of membership of AMA, has placed first in three competitions throughout his time at UW-Whitewater. He says his success and involvement in sales has made a significant impact on his overall college experience and professional career.
"Before I was involved in sales, I had a bad speech impediment and could barely say my own name," Fillip said. "AMA pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me overcome it and ultimately changed my life."
Filip, who will graduate in May 2017, is another Warhawk hired before graduation. He accepted a full-time job with Infosec Institute, an information security company in Madison. He gives credit to opportunities offered by the sales program and team effort focus.
"We train very hard together and give each other pointers," Filip said. "It's great to have new people interested in sales because they have the opportunity to learn from more experienced students and see the cycle continue."
Dan Herlache is assistant director of the Institute for Sales Excellence and handles all external competitions and takes part in the coaching process. He is pictured with students in Hyland Hall at AMA's 7th annual regional conference on Friday, November 7, 2014.
The UW-Whitewater Sales Team, run by the university marketing program, is open to students who have an emphasis in professional sales, while AMA is a student-run organization open to all students.
"Looking forward, we would like to get more students involved outside the marketing and business fields because sales is applicable across all domains," said Shannon Cummins, assistant professor of marketing, associate director of the Institute for Sales Excellence, and co-adviser for the American Marketing Association. "Sales is fun, collaborative and an important skillset to have."
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