LSU PSI Sales Team places third at Collegiate World Cup of Sales

November 11, 2019

ORLANDO, FL - The LSU Professional Sales Institute (PSI) Sales Team competed for the International Collegiate Sales Competition, or ICSC, “Collegiate World Cup of Sales” Nov. 6-9 in Orlando, Florida. This tournament-style competition put participating universities in the position to earn points in each event, and the university accumulating the most overall points will be awarded the Collegiate World Cup of Sales. ICSC is publishing the first-ever ranking of university sales programs based on the competition measuring all sales-related revenue-generating skills. The LSU PSI Sales team finished third overall behind UT-Dallas and UT-Houston among the 80 universities participating.

Ethan AlexanderEthan Alexander
Garrison Grant headshotGarrison Grant
Lauren Olivier HeadshotLauren Olivier
Todd Sterling HeadshotTodd Sterling

Lauren Olivier and Ethan Alexander both competed in the role-play competition. To get to this stage of the competition, they displayed great revenue-generating abilities, including confidence and resilience in a Warm Calling event held in mid-October. In Orlando, the role-play product for ICSC 2019 was a cybersecurity solution from ReliaQuest. The entire scenario was based upon a potential sale to Paycom, a human capital management company, and the potential for a major international acquisition. Olivier and Alexander researched the products and ReliaQuest. They sold their solution, Grey Matter, to Paycom. Teams delivered the pitch and handled any buyer objections within a 15-20 minute timeframe. The pitch was live-streamed to a panel of judges in another room who rated the presentation on 10 different criteria. The top competitors with the highest scores moved on to the next round.

Aware of the metrics on which they would be judged, both Alexander and Olivier felt building rapport and uncovering primary needs are their strongest assets. These include inquiring about what the buyer’s role is within the company, what their corporate objective is for the year and how they are ensuring that objective will be seen through, and getting the specific details needed to close the sale. To prepare for the competition, they role-played using various scenarios to prepare for whatever situation they may encounter.

Olivier said that personality is an important component of being a good salesperson. “Anyone can read from a script, but if you can sit down with someone, smile and crack a joke, and let your personality out that will set you apart from everyone else.” Alexander agreed personality was important, but what is great about the sales team is that students are constantly put out of their comfort zone into uncomfortable scenarios. “Personality is huge, but there are students that have the personality but haven’t been put in these scenarios, and it may take them longer to become comfortable.”

Alexander has been on the team for one year and says that, at each competition, the introductions, building rapport and uncovering their needs are a staple. The variables are the products and the companies involved, so it is the demonstration of the product that they work on the most.

Finishing in the top three is the perfect end to Olivier’s PSI Sales Team Career. She started as the youngest competitor on the team as a sophomore. She’s participated in multiple competitions and would love to finish her career holding the World Cup with her team. Alexander and Olivier are graduating in December.

Garrison Grant and Todd Sterling represented LSU in the Sales Management Case Competition. While the role-play competition was an individual contest, the case competition is a team sport. The case was distributed at the conference and each team had 24-hours to prepare their presentations. Leading up to the conference, Grant and Sterling participated in a sales simulation where they eclipsed the competition to move from last to first place, making them seasoned competitors. Both agree their chemistry and their ability to process information quickly are strong assets that set them apart.

They went through the case from last year’s conference, working through it and making a presentation as if it was this year’s assignment to prepare. Both looked at the case in general as well as being nit-picky with the details so they would have a leg-up when they find out what they will be selling. The competition had multiple rounds with only the best teams advancing to the next, so Sterling and Grant prepared to address the details and questions in-depth as the case got more complicated as the rounds progress.

All have enjoyed every minute of their PSI Sales Team experience. For Alexander and Olivier, neither began their college careers with interest in sales. Olivier began as a pre-med student and quickly found it did not interest her. She thought about what would get her excited to go to class and, eventually, go to work. Those things included people, traveling, autonomy within her work, and a job that she would see the results of her hard work. Since joining, she has had an incredible amount of professional development. Olivier says she has learned a great deal about executive presence and working with her superiors.

Alexander grew up watching his father be the sole salesman in the auto shop he owned. However, he was an economics major until his junior year. When he realized he wasn’t passionate about it, he met with an advisor in the Office of Business Student Success, who encouraged him to look at sales. Alexander met with the director of PSI, Greg Accardo, and went to his first sales competition, where he placed third. He returned home excited and ready for the next competition. When he told his dad, his dad said, “That’s the feeling I’ve been chasing my whole life. It is what I love about sales!” Alexander’s success at his first competition gave him the confidence he needed to know he could be great at sales, and he dove right in.

Sterling has been on the PSI Sales Team for two years and says that relationships led him to sales. He’s a people person and enjoys building relationships and his networks while problem-solving to achieve goals. He likes ensuring those around him have their needs met. Sterling began his college career in kinesiology, but he saw his father's successes in business and wanted to follow in his footsteps and also have a successful business career. So he reevaluated his strengths and assets. He consulted his parents and asked what he was good at, and they encouraged him to go into business since he enjoys talking to people. From there, he landed in marketing and dove even deeper with a sales concentration.

Grant joined the team last year but has always known he wanted to go into sales. He grew up with his father in sales and was always around it. Going to the office piqued his interest. He always knew he would go into business upon entering college but didn’t find out about the sales team until Sterling encouraged him to check it out. Grant added that, even if sales is not your destination, the PSI Sales Team teaches how to interact with others professionally and how to get the first conversation going. “It is a great tool to have in your arsenal to be able to communicate professionally.”

PSI Team with Third Place award

LSU PSI Sales Team with third place award

From left to right: Garrison Grant, Lauren Olivier, Todd Sterling, Ethan Alexander, and Greg Accardo.

All four participants are seniors graduating in December. While they culminated their sales team tenure with a great finish, they dedicated their win to Greg Accardo, the team’s coach and advisor.

Before heading to Orlando, Grant said, “It would mean a lot for us if we could win this for Greg because he’s worked so hard to uplift this program, getting it off the ground and making it what it is today, which is one of the best sales programs in the country.“

“This shows the magnitude of what Greg knows about sales and the sales industry and what he has been able to teach us. We are looking forward to leaving our footprint on LSU and representing Greg by bringing home a win,” Sterling added.

Accardo says, "The LSU Sales Team has shown me and other universities who participate in national-level collegiate sales competitions that LSU sales students are very special. Our students consistently stand out among their peers and continue to perform at a very high level. Their current standing in the Internal Collegiate Sales Competition shows the hard work and dedication they have committed to proving the LSU Professional Sales Institute, and the E.J. Ourso College of Business, are leaders in professional sales education. Geaux Tigers!"

The PSI Sales Team was founded in 2010 to provide interested students the skills and experience necessary to excel in a professional sales career. Membership is open to students in the Professional Sales Concentration with the approval of the PSI Sales Team coach. Students wishing to participate in the LSU Sales Team must commit to scheduled practice and preparation times given by the coach. Students should expect to commit up to five hours per week for four to five weeks to prepare for a sales competition.

If you are interested in joining the LSU Sales Team or learning more about the competitions, contact Coach Greg Accardo at gaccardo@lsu.edu.

About the Professional Sales Institute

The LSU Professional Sales Institute, part of the LSU Department of Marketing, is a partnership between LSU and industry dedicated to the education, training and development of professional sales leaders and the discovery and dissemination of sales knowledge. PSI is also a member of the University Sales Center Alliance, a national consortium of sales centers that connects university faculty with different backgrounds and areas of expertise to advance the sales profession through teaching, research and outreach. For more information, visit our homepage.