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Selling with the Bulls Competition Held in a Virtual World

By Keith Morelli

Selling with the Bulls

TAMPA (April 15, 2020) -- Selling with the Bulls competitions typically rely on students focused on future careers in sales coming together, meeting face-to-face, shaking hands and networking in person. A recent trend of teaching students how to effectively communicate over the telephone, through Skype and other not-so-face-to-face “web meetings” paid off this week when the entire competition was held remotely.

Meeting the technical challenge for the undertaking of the Selling with the Bulls Club Championship, which included about 50 students pulling together to network via cyberspace, and 20 competing against each other, was easier than expected, said Rob Hammond, director of the Muma College of Business Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation and coordinator of the event.

The event was forced into cyber space because of the lock-down in place across the state and much of the nation to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. All the universities in Florida are now teaching online and most events were cancelled, except for ones that can be held in virtual reality.

Technology provided by USF IT was enough to overcome most challenges, Hammond said. The rest was up to the students, most of whom were prepared for the competition.

“We are unique in that we have led sales education with competitions in prospecting via phone, email and web meetings,” he said. “With our competitors working safely at home, we only needed to tighten the coordination a little, since we were not on campus.

“This very much resembled today’s real world selling experience,” he said. “KnowBe4, one of our sponsors, provided the real-world basis for the case. KnowBe4 representatives played the role of the buyer in the room and other business partners/sponsors did the judging.”

Hammond runs three Selling with the Bulls competitions a year, each time growing in popularity not only in competitors, but sponsors as well. In the fall, the competition is for USF students, including those from St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. In February, the Muma College of Business hosts the intercollegiate Selling with the Bulls, with attendees coming from as far away as Wisconsin and Indiana. This one, held Monday, was open to members of the USF Tampa Sales Club.

Hammond said the challenges of running a virtual-world competition are indicative of how business is run nowadays, even before the COVID-19 crisis.

“Remote selling is already part of the real-world,” he said. “Often customers are in different locales and you can’t afford to see everyone face-to-face. Business moves too fast and customers are diverse and geographically distributed.

“This is why we’ve made email, phone calls, web meetings and even voicemail part of our competitions and skill development,” he said. “Our students are honing the sales skills, technological experience and process knowledge that makes them market ready. In the end, it’s a win-win-win for students, employers and the university.”

Matthew Salgado, a global business major, took the Selling with the Bulls Top Bull Award.

“It was nerve racking and exciting all at the same time,” Salgado said on his LinkedIn post this week. “Between the networking, prospecting emails and role play, I have to say it was truly an experience to remember.”