Students from the A.R. "Tony" and Maria J. Sanchez Program for Excellence in Selling (PES) in the C. T. Bauer College of Business put on their bi-annual PES Open at the end of October. This eight-week event gives students in the program firsthand sales experience from start to finish. This semester, the 58 students who put together the event raised just over $200,000, the most ever in the tournament's 20 years of existence.
For 10-20 hours a week over an eight-week period, students are busy contacting potential clients, learning new software used in the sales industry and how to overcome the rejection that comes along with sales.
“We start immersing them into that learning, helping them understand what the client process is throughout the beginning of the sale, the middle of the sale and how to end the sale the best way possible,” PES Program Manager Claudia Ibanez-Flores said. “This event teaches them to follow up, to be consistent and really persevere.”
This was Ibanez-Flores' first PES Open as program manager, after graduating from the program herself this spring. She was helped by student Assistant Program Managers Trevor Woeste and Christian Gonzales. All previously were involved with the PES Open when they were in the program but took on a new role this time around.
“When we went through this event as students, everything seemed so seamless and simple and now that we are on the back end, there was a lot to learn and take in,” Gonzales said. “One of the biggest things was getting to know the new students to build that relationship with them where they were comfortable and could come to us with any question because we had been through this.”
To go along with the record-breaking sales numbers, the students averaged over 11 slots sold per person. Typically, students average 8-10 slots per person each semester.
“The first time I was cold calling, I put my phone on the desk and had the number typed, I was so scared of making the call,” Woeste said. “I finally mustered up the courage to call and it went straight to voicemail. That was the moment I thought, ‘Why am I so scared of this? I can get used to this.’ It really gets you out of your comfort zone.”
The hard work is not just for experience either. The top producer, which is sales in monetary value, and top gun, which is the most people sold to, earn a $2,000 scholarship for their work with a third $500 scholarship being given to the top producer runner up.
The students stop the sales portion of the tournament the Friday before the event. On the day of the tournament, the students are on the course building relationships and getting to know who their clients were by making goodie bags and helping them whenever it was needed throughout the day.
“It forces you to be adaptable and a quick learner,” Gonzales said. “You are not only trying take in all that information, but you have to communicate all that information to someone else. It is such a quick turn around and it forces them to be quick on their feet and agile at all times.”
“Since it was my first time running the event as a program manager it was a little hectic at first but turned out great,” Ibanez-Flores said. “It was really cool to see the students realize all the hard work they put into the semester led to this moment, and getting to see them meet the people they sold to was really incredible.”