Lafayette, LA – November 2, 2009 – Sales is all about building relationships but last week, for students from seven universities throughout Louisiana, it was all about competition.

2009 Bayou Sales Challenge Team University of LouisianaFour marketing majors from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette-- Kimberly Abrahams, Joseph LaBauve, Peter Gervais and Jonathan Guidry--joined students from Louisiana State University, Nicholls State University, the University of New Orleans, Southeastern University, Xavier University in New Orleans and Southern University of Baton Rouge to compete in the ultimate regional sales challenge, the 7th Annual Bayou Sales Challenge, hosted by Nicholls State University’s College of Business. The event is sponsored and judged by highly supportive top executives and sales teams from regional and national businesses who view the event as an opportunity to recruit some of the top sales students in the state.

On Thursday and Friday, October 29th and 30th, students and professors converged upon Thibodaux with hopes of not only taking home top honors but also of networking with potential employers. UL students Kimberly Abrahams, Joseph LaBauve, Peter Gervais and Jonathan Guidry accomplished their mission!

The judges faced the daunting task of narrowing the field of 23 competitors to just two finalists—Kimberly Abrahams and Joseph LaBauve, both UL students. Judges role played as customers giving each student a mere 20 minutes to identify their needs and make a sales presentation. Live feeds of each sales presentation were broadcast to judges in conference rooms throughout the facility. They graded competitors on areas such as professionalism, identification of customer needs, and handling customer objections.

Only 12 students advanced to the semi-final rounds. The remaining students competed in the Pressure Round, a fast paced consolation bracket with a 10-minute time limit. Abrahams, LaBauve, and Guidry all advanced to the semi-final round. Gervais, unable to participate in the initial elimination round due to a class presentation he had to make at UL Thursday morning, was ineligible for the semi-final round.

Participating students and faculty sat on the edges of their seats as they watched the live video on a large projection screen in the Nicholls auditorium as the two finalists—Abrahams and LaBauve—each took a turn at making their final presentations to the customers, the competition becoming more intense and more difficult with each round.

Every participating student was a winner! Each gained valuable experience and challenged themselves to go beyond their comfort zone.

“The Bayou Sales Challenge enabled me to experience competition with fellow scholars in a real time setting and showed me the need to differentiate myself within the marketplace” said Gervais, a marketing major at UL.

Excitement mounted as participants awaited the announcement of the individual and team accomplishments during a banquet that followed the final round of competition. All of the students applauded as Kimberly Abrahams, a 23 year old native of Lake Charles, and a senior marketing major at UL was announced as the best individual competitor.

“I feel as though this has opened up so many doors for me, and I have gained so much experience throughout this process,” said Abrahams. “One thing that has stood out through this entire process is that selling is all about creating that relationship and relationships make friends, and that's what life is all about, “ she continued.

In addition to the runner up individual competitor award going to Joseph LaBauve, Peter Gervais of UL was recognized as the winner of the Pressure Round. If that wasn’t enough, the four member team from UL also took home the Outstanding Team Award.

The UL students gave much of the credit for their success to their new marketing teacher Duleep Delpechitre. But the humble professor gives all the credit to his students saying “They worked really hard. They are committed and enjoy doing it.”

Abrahams and LaBauve will continue to work with professor Delpechitre to prepare to represent UL in the national sales competition in the spring.

“Building our sales program and preparing our students to set themselves apart in the world of sales is something we have been diligently planning for and working on for the past three years,” said Dr. Gwen Fontenot, head of the Department of Marketing and Hospitality at UL. Fontenot explained that the department and the administration of the Moody College of Business has plans to create a sales lab with state of the art technology and facilities that will allow students to create videos of themselves while role playing to assist in their preparation for a sales career. Plans are for the facilities to be used not only for classroom purposes but to help local companies with training and certification programs in the sales area.

Nicholls student Jay Giroir placed as the runner-up in the Pressure Round and the Nicholls’ team placed as the runner-up for the team award.


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