PNW business students place in top 1.5% in national sales competition

Three Purdue University Northwest students, who are majoring in marketing with minors in sales, placed within the top 1.5% of the Spring 2020 RNMKRS (pronounced “rainmakers”) Virtual Sales Competition last month, PNW officials have announced.

PNW students Luke Hackett of Munster placed second;  Katie Wiening of Hammond placed sixth, and Tyler Asche of St. John placed 17th with guidance from their coach, Claudia Mich, associate professor of marketing in the College of Business.

Approximately 1,400 college students from 49 schools participated in the competition.

“This is our first time competing in the RNMKRS competition, which is itself only a year old,” Mich said. “I am very proud of our students and their hard work.”

RNMKRS was created in 2018 to leverage new, interactive artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create and run free, mobile, virtual competition events for student-selling audiences nationwide. Students were tasked to role-play and sell to a BOT (robot) client named Alex, who was designed to learn from interaction and respond accordingly in real-time.

“The only way to succeed was to really get to know the client and his/her needs,” Mich said. “Only then could students tailor the product presentation to the needs of the client.”

“I’d like to thank the university for providing us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and really put our skills to the test,” Asche said.

College of Business students are accustomed to competing in face-to-face competitions with peers and sponsors’ representatives. This unique experience, in addition to a class-wide Zoom competition, was an entirely new challenge for these PNW students to learn digital selling skills that can be applied to real-world scenarios.

“The competition helped my communication skills because talking to a bot on an app was very difficult at times,” Wiening said. “It also taught me adaptability because the bot was unable to pick up all the words I was speaking so I had to be able to restate the sales point quickly.”

“With the advancements in technology, I believe the use of AI will become greater and greater,” Hackett added. “So, already having experience selling to an AI could potentially help me in the future.”

For more about the hands-on exercises students are learning within the PNW College of Business White Lodging Professional Selling Lab, visit:

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