WCU student wins regional sales competition

For the second consecutive year, a student from Western Carolina University is recipient of the top prize at a regional sales competition at Ball State University in Indiana.

Ashley Fender, a WCU senior from Asheville, recently won the annual competition in sales-call role playing while competing against more than 20 students from Ball State University, Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Louisville and WCU.

“WCU prepared me for the competition, and more importantly, prepared me to be a good competitor,” said Fender. “By taking marketing classes and being involved in numerous role playing activities, I have learned what questions are effective to ask and how to engage the buyer with whom I am working.”

During the competition, students were required to sell a customer relationship management software package. Students from each university competed against other students from their respective home universities for the opportunity to qualify for the final round of competition.

In the final round, each student was required to make a 20-minute presentation about the software package to a corporate buyer. Based on a possible score of 100 from six judges, Fender’s score was 89, the highest in the competition.

“Being a communication major has prepared me in more ways than one,” she said. “I have learned to be professional and communicate with people effectively. I have learned to read people’s body language, and more importantly, especially when it comes to sales, I have learned to listen. These together made for a great success.”

Don Connelly, head of WCU’s communication department, called Fender’s win an achievement that illustrates the strength of two of the university’s academic programs.

“The really exciting thing about Ashley Fender is that she has taken advantage of not only the department of communication’s broadcast sales major, but she combined it with a minor in marketing,” Connelly said. “It is a very powerful combination and is a good example of how two different departments from two different WCU colleges can work together to complement one another.”

Fender graduated from Asheville School in 2006, and she is the daughter of Melody McClure and Michael Fender.

Jim DeConinck, director of WCU’s Center for Professional Selling and Marketing, and faculty member Julie Johnson prepared students for the competition.

Fender and fellow WCU student Kevin Brown, a management major, also will be competing in March in the National Collegiate Sales Competition to be held at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, along with 106 students from 53 universities.