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        Marketing, Students

        Harbert students excel at national sales competition

        June 13, 2024 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        Marketing students Taylor Lore, Alex Holliday and Lily Stephens were the top-three performing Auburn students at a national sales role-play competition in April sponsored by RNMKRS, an AI-inspired sales training app. The students competed virtually through the RNMKRS phone app as part of Karen Hopkins’ Personal Selling (MKTG 4390) course.

        3 student headshots

        Left to right: Taylor Lore, Alex Holliday and Lily Stephens were the top Auburn student competitors at a national role-play competition.

        Lore, who won a $1,000 prize, also finished in the top 5% of all 5,000 RNMKRS’ competitors who hailed from more than 90 universities nationwide.

        The student competitors played the role of a Dell computer sales rep working with an avatar named Alex, whose municipal fire department was looking to buy a new computer system.

        According to Lore, during the competition role play, Alex inquired about laptop features and expressed concerns throughout the interaction.

        “You had to watch Alex bot’s body language to present the features and benefits that he was interested in,” said Lore, who is doing social media influencer marketing this summer at food-hall app Wonder Group. “The whole purpose was to cater to the buyer’s wants and needs, which is really great because that’s what happens in real life [sales].”

        Holliday, who is interning this summer at MICHELEN Connected Fleet, gained a lot of practical knowledge and experience from the course and the competition.

        “During my internship this summer, I have been able to build on a lot of the techniques taught in the class, including SPIN [situation, problem, implication and need payoff],” he said, referring to the relationship-building sales strategy he learned in Hopkins’ course.

        Practice makes perfect

        Hopkins, senior lecturer in the Department of Marketing in the Harbert College of Business, incorporated RNMKRS into the course as a socially low-stakes environment for students to practice building relationships with a prospective client.

        Karen Hopkins headshot

        Karen Hopkins, senior lecturer of marketing

        According to Hopkins, students in the Personal Selling class do practice their techniques one-on-one with faculty members or alumni at least once during the semester, but the RNMKRS app allows them to practice dozens if not hundreds of times.

        “By practicing weekly on RNMKRS, we give the students a low-stakes opportunity to get better without any negative consequences,” said Hopkins, noting that students also simulated a speed sell elevator-style pitch about themselves during the semester. “They gain confidence, even though they’re interacting with a bot. [Ultimately] when they do interact with a person, they have the confidence to speak eloquently and intelligently about what they’re doing.”

        Senior Claire Berry, Hopkins said, excelled at the speed selling, generating the second most elevator pitch practice sessions in the country.

        “By the end of the semester, she was a superstar because of that practice,” said Hopkins.

        Lore attributes her first-place finish to practicing daily.

        “RNMKRS is a great tool, which gives you the hands-on work experience to thrive in the selling world,” Lore said. “And, the personal selling class has helped with my public speaking. I’m not a great test taker, so being in the competition has really helped me show what I can do through hands-on learning.”

        At the end of May, Hopkins was an invited speaker at the RNMKRS Best Practices in Teaching Faculty Symposium, where she shared with peer instructors the strategies she developed for helping students build their confidence and portfolios.