Two quick and concise sales pitches were all it took to propel Emma Clark to the final round of Canada’s largest student competition.
On Mar. 10, Clark, a fourth-year marketing student at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business, travelled to Toronto, Ont. to compete in the final round of the Great Canadian Sales Competition at Google headquarters.
The Great Canadian Sales Competition is an annual event that is open to students from any accredited university in Canada, providing them the chance to put their sales skills to the test, to gain recognition among some of the biggest employers in Canada and to compete for a grand prize of $7,500.
Clark learned about the competition from a friend while studying abroad in Australia and is glad she had the experience.
“I definitely wanted to take up every opportunity that I could to help ensure that I could get a good job when I graduate. When I heard about the competition, I thought to myself, ‘You know, why not?’ and I’m glad that I took the opportunity because it took me to a good place,” Clark said.
The first round of the competition was open to students from Oct. 19, 2015 to Jan. 30, 2016. Competitors were tasked with creating and submitting a 90-second video clip pitching a topic of their choice. The clips were judged on three things: a good value proposition, confidence and credibility.
Clark’s video clip focused on why people should create healthy lifestyle habits and offered tips on how to make immediate, positive changes to one’s lifestyle.
“Living a healthy lifestyle is something that I am very passionate about. In order to make a successful pitch, it is very important to truly believe in what you’re pitching. For me, living a healthy life is something that I knew a lot about and something that was easy to pitch,” Clark said.
Out of the 1,625 students that submitted video clips in the first round, Clark was selected as one of 25 competitors that would advance to the semi-final.
Clark’s next task was to create a two-minute sales pitch for a company called Shopify, an e-commerce platform that improves communication between merchants and consumers, allowing both parties to buy and sell products more easily.
“When I was working on my pitch for Shopify, I basically tried to focus my pitch on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what,’ which tends to resonate with people a bit more deeply. You have to be sincere about the product that you’re selling, because if you don’t think that the product has value then neither will the consumer,” Clark said.
Clark’s Shopify pitch advanced her to the final round of the competition, along with four other students. The five finalists were tasked with creating a 10-minute pitch for the company that they were paired with and then presented the pitch to customers in a business meeting.
“In a business meeting, you have to really know the product inside and out. If you do, you’ll become a lot more confident in yourself and the product, even if you’re unlikely to use all of the information about the product while doing your pitch,” Clark said.
The winner of the competition has not yet been announced, but Clark said that the experience has been invaluable, regardless of her final standing.
“There were a lot of really amazing people at the competition. I was very fortunate to receive advice from some of the more experienced salespeople there, and after watching some of the pitches from the other competitors, I gained a new perspective on how creative you can really be,” Clark said.
Clark also believes that all students can benefit by learning sales skills, regardless of their field of study.
“I think the sales field gets a bad rap because people tend to associate salespeople with door-to-door vacuum peddlers, but the field really isn’t like that. It’s a great way to develop your public speaking skills, gain confidence and use your creativity to help businesses out.”
Photo: Kaitlin Wong