WCU students win honors at national collegiate sales competition

A Western Carolina University business student claimed second place among 122 competitors in a prestigious national collegiate sales competition, while he and his WCU teammate placed seventh out of 61 schools in team competition.

Nathan Hunzaker, a senior majoring in sales and marketing and computer information systems, finished second in individual competition at the 12th Annual National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) hosted by Kennesaw State University on March 4-7. Inaugurated in 1999, the NCSC is the largest and oldest sales role-play competition in existence.

Hunzaker and Jena Weinstock, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship with a minor in marketing, took home the seventh-place trophy in the team event.

“Competition is really fierce at these events, teams begin preparing more than a year in advance,” Hunzaker said, who joined a little over a year ago. “Some schools rank a top 50 of potential competitors and run their own internal competition to choose the two students who go to the competition. Facing significantly more resources and man-power, most of us were happy simply to make it through the first round when over half of the competitors are cut.”

There were four rounds in the competition, with a unique buyer and company for each and the students pitching a product. Each round significantly cut the original 122 competitors and the final round has a curveball every year.

“This year the final buyer was blind, leaving little room for a strong demonstration of the product,” Hunzaker said. “With this in mind I focused more on addressing needs, clearing objections, and getting a strong close, because it doesn’t make sense to show a blind buyer a computer screen or print-outs. This made me the favorite of judges from sponsoring companies, however professor judges tend to stick closer to the grading criteria and gave me lower marks on my demo.”

A video of Hunzaker’s second-place winning sales pitch can be found at http://coles.kennesaw.edu/ncsc/.

The finishes at the competition by Hunzaker and Weinstock marks the best performance by Western Carolina students since WCU started competing in the event seven years ago, said Jim DeConinck, director of WCU’s Center for Professional Selling and Marketing.

“The students not only got a chance to compete, but also networked with recruiters from across the nation,” DeConinck said. “The NCSC pits top sales students in a test of live role-play, one-on-one sales call challenges. Each sales call is broadcast live to faculty and recruiters, who evaluate each student’s performance.”

Hunzaker credited DeConinck for this year’s competition successes.

“We have a killer sales program led by Dr. DeConinck, which placed us in accelerated courses and independent studies,” Hunzaker said. “I can attribute a lot of our success to the high expectations set by our professor; he really drove us forward.”

Hunzaker is a 2007 graduate of Green Hope High School. He is the son of Mark and Susan Hunzaker of Cary.

Weinstock is a 2007 graduate of Meyers Park High School. A resident of Charlotte, she is the daughter of Billy Weinstock and Lynn Geer.