Football has the Superbowl. Soccer has the World Cup. Track and Field has the Olympics. Budding corporate salespersons have the National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC)!
Last year, I helped out at the NCSC. Students from universities around the country competed to be the top Sales Candidate and the National Champion. The competition is held annually at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta and requires competitors to engage in realistic role-play sales sessions with mock corporate buyers. This video shows the 2014 winner, Molly Atmire, in action:
A key feature is the way that national corporate sponsors participate. They supply the judges and mock buyers to ensure that the experience is as realistic as possible. The corporate sponsors help to train the next generation of sales personnel and they recruit talent for their organizations. Each competitor typically walks away with several job offers. Still, relatively few University programs (even worldwide) teach students to be Professional Salespersons. The Marketing and Business Programs that do offer Professional sales courses vary in approach. Dr. Terry Loe at Kennesaw State has organized the National Collegiate Sales Competition since its inception and freely distributes his curriculum to other universities.
Using Video to Run the Competition
Dr. Loe has used video recording for years, to make the competition fairer and give feedback to competitors and sponsors. His early systems were home grown, but he has relied on Dartfish since 2011. The following diagram shows the system that was deployed for the 2014 competition.
The experience showed how Dartfish can pull data from a wide range of sources, including live streams (with audio) from networked IP cameras. The reliability of the capture software was extremely impressive. Altogether, more than 300 sales sessions were streamed and recorded. As the video was received in the judging rooms, volunteers tagged the major sections of the video in real time. By the time each session was over, the videos and the tags already resided on a large networked server.
The value of video (and Dartfish capabilities) was realized both during and (mostly) after the competition was over.
During the competition, each live feed was streamed to a room where up to 9 corporate judges watched and graded the performance. During the qualifying rounds, 9 separate feeds (and judging rooms) were in use. The system isolated the sales session from judging influence and allowed better utilization of facility space. By live tagging the video, it was possible to break the standard 20 minute sessions into smaller segments (e.g., introduction, rapport building, presentation, objection handling, closing, etc.) for faster review. The tagging also assigned identifying meta-data (name, school, etc.) to each video clip.
Once the tagged clips reached the networked server, each student’s session was available for review by corporate recruiters. Recruiters could select and review the videos of each competitor’s session using one of 20 viewing stations. I was present for most of the competition in that corporate reviewing room and I witnessed several recruiters spend several hours “watching the films”. They could use tagged sections and meta-data to frame searches and comparisons to meet their own criteria. A recruiter could, for example, select all of the objection-handling segments for all of the competitors from a school that was the recruiter’s home office. Another recruiter could compare initial “elevator pitches” for all of the quarter-finalists.
After the competition, all of the videos were uploaded to Dartfish TV where coaches at the participating schools could add more tags and comments to the videos for their own students. The coaches could then review the additionally tagged videos with those students. It is my understanding that a number of schools are working to implement a similar capabilities back into their classrooms and into their normal teaching process.
Finally, Dr. Loe now has a vast library of videos of sales presentations … with judges scores for each one. There must surely be some good research opportunities in that.
Can you help?
I’m not an employee, investor or reseller for Dartfish, but they are kindly letting me play with it to explore any non-sports uses I can cook up. I am willing to play with videos sent to me by others as long as they don’t hold me to a deliverable timeline and they give me permission to post useful pieces on the blog.