For Pi Sigma Epsilon president Jake Mitchell, his experiences in CMU's professional selling classes and on his fraternity's national sales team have been transformative. With the fraternity's journey to national competition resulting in more awards and accolades this year than ever before, it is clear he's not the only one.
"The person I was freshman year and the person I am now are completely different," said Mitchell, a junior from Alto majoring in entrepreneurship and minoring in professional sales.
Students representing Pi Sigma Epsilon returned to classes last week having won seven awards for individual and chapter competitions. The chapter was recognized as one of the top, gold-ranked chapters in the nation for its member recruitment and the quality of its professional development. This from an organization that has been active at CMU for just seven years.
"Winning these awards is just fuel that makes us want to work harder," said Mitchell. "It's a supportive, championship culture. We know what it takes to be at the top."
Preparation for nationals begins weeks in advance. Any student interested in representing the chapter in national competition must first pitch themselves as a candidate to a panel of alumni. At nationals, students vie for honors in several professional sales and business management competitions, including the Sell-a-Thon and team sales projects. For the past three years, CMU has earned one of the top three spots in the Sell-a-Thon. Mitchell, who was a Top 20 finalist last year, took third place out of 306 students from 72 schools this year. He was one of six CMU students who earned a place in the final round.
Other team and individual accomplishments include:
- First place for Sales Project (The Taste of Mid-Michigan)
- First place for Sales Project Manager (Jake Mitchell, manager of The Taste of Mid-Michigan)
- Second place for the chapter's Professional Development Program
- Second place for the chapter's Promotional Campaign
- Sustained Chapter Excellence Award
Two students also walked away with $1,500 scholarships. Ross Allen, a sophomore from Williamston, was awarded the Multiview Scholarship. Katimae Bosscher, a senior from Cadillac, won the Southern and Western Life Scholarship.
Competitions, like the Sell-a-Thon, mimic real-world professional selling scenarios. Students in this category of competition receive a case study on a hypothetical professional sales opportunity. Each student conducts research to determine how they would best meet the client's goals and meets with advisor Ken Cherry for guidance in developing a short sales pitch. At taped practice sessions, Cherry acts as the potential client. Students analyze footage of their practice pitches, similar to the way sports teams analyze game tape to improve their performance. Once students arrive at nationals, judges play the role of the client. Students deliver their best pitch with the goal of winning business from their competitors.
"Professor Cherry is one of the best mentors I've ever worked with," said Mitchell. "He cares about us and is always there to give us guidance."
The competition also has taught Mitchell and his teammates that they can learn even when the outcome of a project didn't turn out as intended or failed to meet their final goal.
"The competition has taught me to put myself out of my comfort zone, execute a plan and leave it all out on the table," said Mitchell. "No matter what happens in the final round I always know I will gain something in national competition, even if it doesn't go as planned. That is part of what I will take with me after graduation — the ability to deal with any situation that comes at me."