Contest to spotlight top European and international sales talent
Edinburgh Napier University is set to host the world’s fourth European Sales Competition to unearth some of the top student sales talent from across the Continent and the US.
It’s bringing the contest to Britain for the first time where it will play host to more than 50 students from 20 different universities across 10 countries, including Spain and Finland.
The students will demonstrate their sales skills in buyer-seller business meetings as part of the movement to take remove the negative stereotype of sales and put it at the heart of the higher education curriculum.
The first of the competitions was organised in Brussels in 2015 to help address a lack of structured sales training and expose participants to cross-cultural differences.
Supporters say they wanted to pave the way for a standardised approach to sales education across Europe and foster the creation of a pan-European Sales University Alliance.
Sponsored by cloud computing company Salesforce, the competition at Edinburgh Napier’s Craiglockhart Campus opens on May 31 with a Speed Selling Event, in which students will pitch against the clock to professional sales people and get instant feedback on their performances.
The main competition the following day will see competitors selling to a series of ‘buyers’ provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The afternoon final will be broadcast live online and to an audience in the university’s Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre.
The winners will be announced at a Gala Dinner that evening, which will also give the competition’s international visitors – from as far afield as Kansas state – the chance to try traditional ceilidh dancing.
Dr Tony Douglas, Edinburgh Napier’s Associate Professor of Strategy & Sales and Director of the European Sales Competition, said: “I first witnessed sales competition events in the USA some six years ago, and I was so excited by the concept of bringing together industry and students in the Business School environment that I added this event to my list of ‘must dos’.
“Sales by its nature can be very competitive and the European Sales Competition ticks all the right boxes by connecting the right students with the right businesses, who are looking for more efficient ways of recruiting.”
The university says that, with talented sales people at the heart of most successful companies, leading business organisations have been happy to lend their support.
Salesforce, Oracle, Gartner, Hudson, Eastern Western Motor Group, Textron and the Association of Professional Sales are all backing the event, which is designed to make sales an attractive career choice.
Edinburgh Napier, which is home to Scotland’s first university sales division, offers two post-graduate degree programmes with a sales element, and is supported by an advisory group drawn from industry which helps to develop the teaching agenda.
Its Business School last month (April) launched its Centre for Sales and Business Development, which will become a hub for the professionalisation of sales through research and commercial activity.
It now also offers advanced entry to its BA Sales Management course for people with relevant work experience, and has joined forces with universities in Finland, Austria and Germany to research the coaching of sales professionals.
Dr Douglas added: “With the introduction of sales programmes at Edinburgh Napier, we are now able to help students to not just learn about sales but to practise important selling skills such as questioning, listening, presentation and negotiation, using role play as part of our assessments.”