I stand outside of a room waiting for an "on air" light to flick on. Entering the room, I role play with a professional as though I am a salesperson calling on them to discuss their business and how I can partner with them to help. There are hidden cameras in the room and the feed is streamed for a panel of judges to watch and critique my performance. There is a limited amount of time (usually between 12 and 15 minutes) for me to accomplish my goal of making a sale or setting up another meeting. My competitors and I go through multiple rounds, culminating in the finals!
In the past semester I've gone to two competitions. At the first, the Pi Sigma Epsilon (my professional business fraternity) regional competition, I came in first place! I'll be flown out to Wisconsin in the spring to compete in the national competition and I couldn't be more excited :)
The next competition I went to was the National Sales Challenge, where the top two sales students from each school are invited to compete. You'll want to read all the way through on this one, trust me. This is one of the big three sales competitions (people came all the way from Scotland!). I had been preparing for this competition for months, rehearsing with my professor (read: forcing him) for hours every week. Needless to say, I wanted very badly to win.
There were three rounds to this competition, with the first knocking out half of the competitors. I felt pretty good about the first round, but was more excited for the dancing and pizza party that we got to go to while waiting for the results.
Once the semi finalists were announced (which included both me and the other competitor from my school) we all rushed off to prep before the next round the following morning. After this round, it would come down to the final four. While I was confident in my preparation, I knew that it would be incredibly difficult to make it to the finals. This might explain why when my name was called to announce that I was I finalist, I was so flustered that I TRIPPED WALKING ONTO THE STAGE. It was completely a Jennifer Lawrence moment.
I did recover, fear not. I was handed a sealed envelope with the secret scenario for the final round and was whisked away to a room with the other competitors, where coaches were not allowed. For the next hour I worked on the case with the other competitor from my school (shout out to Emily for being awesome during that agonizing wait!), but realized that I knew what to do, regardless of the details of the case, so I relaxed and tried not to think about the falling thing.
The final round was live broadcasted for all of the coaches, competitors, sponsors, recruiters, professors, EVERYONE, to watch in an auditorium. But, you know, no pressure. I was the second to go and it was not at all what I was expecting. The buyer was incredibly tough and part way through the meeting someone acting as the CEO of the company came barging in saying that he hated my company and never wanted to work with us. Luckily, I keep relatively cool in situations like this and addressed the issue and continued on.
After each finalist goes, they are put in a holding room by themselves to wait for the end of the competition. I was so happy and elated from the thrilling experience of competing at such a high level that I couldn't stop smiling and laughing. Since I knew I would be in there for a while (at least 45 minutes) I decided to have a solo Bollywood dance party, because, why not?
All of the finalist were retrieved from our respective rooms and brought back on stage to say a few words about how we thought it went. After we all spoke someone from the audience called out "We heard someone was having a dance party after they finished!" Little did I know, but the people running the competition were on the other side of the two way mirror in my holding room and had seen my Bollywood display (insert embarrassed emoji here). I am not only the girl who trips, but also the one who dances to foreign music while at a professional event. Good.
I ran back to the hotel to change before going to the awards banquet. Apparently, my tripping and dancing endeared me to the crowd because people found it amusing and charming rather than embarrassing! I had great fun while waiting for the results, just so happy to have reached the point I did. When they announced that I won, that was pretty cool too.
Now I have a bit of a sales competition break before I am back at it next semester! I can't wait!