Stepping into sales

Image of Max Biebel handing someone his card at the UW-Eau Claire event.UWL student Max Biebel at the Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up at UW-Eau Claire. Photo courtesy of UW-Eau Claire Photography.

Students say finding UWL’s sales team was life changing

Epiphanie Belanger had always considered sales a “coercive, annoying” career. That was before she knew what it really was.

Belanger, a senior double majoring in marketing and psychology, joined UWL’s sales team and learned through the act of selling that this career was actually her calling.

UWL senior Epiphanie Belanger, a senior double majoring in marketing and psychology, has a job with Adobe lined up after graduation. The May graduate says joining UWL’s Sales Team was one of the best decisions she made for herself professionally.

“Sales is about creating relationships with others and fulfilling your customers’ needs,” says Belanger, who is now president of UWL’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.  

Belanger, who graduates in May, recently accepted a Sales Development Representative position with Adobe after graduation where the Québec native will use her French to communicate with businesses in the Canadian province about what Adobe can do for them.

“I urge everyone in the marketing field to give sales the benefit of the doubt and to give it a try,” she advises.

And students can. UWL has a sales team that is open to marketing majors. The team’s coach, Stacy Trisler, associate lecturer of marketing, says Belanger’s experience is not out of the ordinary.

Many students email her to share the news of job interviews and offers as a result of their competing in regional and national sales competitions after joining the team. Most also share how learning more about sales changed their life.

As of this fall, more than 100 students have had the opportunity to attend local, regional and national sales competitions through participation in UWL’s sales team.

The next competition for the team — the annual UWL sales competition — will be Friday, March 8. It is the 6th anniversary of UWL’s competition made possible through partnerships with local business professionals who serve as judges.

The top students from the UWL competition are part of a team that is eligible to go on to compete at a University of Minnesota competition in April and then the Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up at UW-Eau Claire in fall 2019 where university students interested in sales from throughout the country compete. At this competition, top students conduct two sales presentations where they attempt to sell something to business professionals — national sponsors — who act as buyers.

“Students come out of this experience feeling so well prepared to go into the business world,” says Trisler. “It pushes them outside of their comfort zone and they realize they can do something they didn’t think they could do.”

UWL Sales Team at the Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up at UW-Eau Claire last fall. From left front, Epiphanie Belanger, Ashley Forrest, Coach Stacy Trisler. Back left, Jenna Challoner, Max Biebel and Forrest Fenlon. Photo courtesy of UW-Eau Claire Photography.

UWL Senior Forrest Fenlon says before joining the sales team, he didn’t have a clue what he wanted to do after graduation. He didn’t have any connections with businesses to pursue opportunities.

“I joined the sales team because I wasn’t sure if I was well-suited as a marketer and I wanted to expand my options,” he explains. “Sales changed everything! It helped me get my first internship, gain competitive experience at a national level and settle on a career route.”

Fall semester Fenlon had offers for two local sales roles and interviews with Henry Schein and Gartner, two Fortune 500 companies. He ended up accepting a position with Gartner.

“I would be lost if I hadn’t pursued sales,” admits Fenlon. “Sales helped me gain confidence, enhanced my speaking skills, and gave me an opportunity to bring out my competitive spirit.”

See more photos from the October 2018 Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up.