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Student Spotlight: Zach Otto, Among the Sales Leaders at AMA International Collegiate Conference

By Keith Morelli

Zach Otto

TAMPA (April 23, 2018) -- On a recent trip to New Orleans, Zach Otto found himself among some skilled sales people. And the junior marketing major at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business out-sold most, taking third place in the sales competition of the 40th annual American Marketing Association International Collegiate Conference.

The USF chapter of the AMA also excelled in the competition. The group finished among the top 20 collegiate chapters out of more than 370 chapters in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

Otto represented USF in the sales competition, which consisted of two rounds and included participants from 60 schools.

"It was so great to be a part of a conference with so many people who were already going above and beyond the love of their major," Otto said. "I was able to network with people from Puerto Rico to Wisconsin who were also going into sales and even had had past experience in sales competitions.

"I had been building up to this competition for the whole semester, but I really was not sure what it was going to actually feel like, until I got in the room with the judges," he said. "All the preparation that I did with the help of Dr. (Rob) Hammond went a long way toward separating me from the rest of the pack and I know that preparation played a critical role in getting me to the finals."

He said he was honored to be recognized by the judges and to represent USF.

"The sales program at USF is opening so many doors for students," Otto said. "I just cannot wait to see what new opportunities are going to be available to us next semester."

The competition's scenario and prospect profile was not known to Otto and his competitors until an hour prior to their presentations. The scenario was this: Each competitor portrayed a business developer for a newly relocated supply-company branch and was trying to land a large contractor as a client. Calls and emails had failed to get in touch with the owner of the company. Finally, the owner agreed to meet. During the meeting, the competitors were asked to uncover the needs of the company and get the owner to agree to a second meeting.

Otto, who will graduate next year, is the founding president of the USF Professional Sales Club, which is affiliated with the Muma College of Business Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation. The New Orleans conference was the first competition for the club.

The center was the creation of Hammond, a marketing instructor and recent DBA graduate.

"I could not be prouder of Zach," Hammond said. "He dug in, worked to learn the sales competition rubrics and did his homework. These skills will serve him well in whatever profession he chooses after his time here at USF."

The conference drew more than 1,700 marketers and marketing students to New Orleans for professional development, cutting edge career advice, competitions and networking. Students, when not taking part in competitions, were afforded opportunities to network with industry professionals and talk about careers and best practices in marketing and sales.

"I look forward to being a Bull returning to New Orleans next year," Otto said, "and bringing back that first-place trophy to USF."