Competition Helps Students Gain Confidence in Their Ability to Sell

April 2, 2021

On Thursday, March 4, 33 students in the School of Business participated in the Perfect Pitch Competition, sponsored by ADP (Automatic Data Processing, Inc.).

A screen shot from the Pitch Perfect competition on Zoom.

The Perfect Pitch Competition is held every semester in the MKTG 344: Personal Selling course, which is taught by Dr. Monica Hodis, associate professor of marketing. The competition requires students to deliver a 90-second “elevator pitch” on why they should be hired for the inside sales representative position with ADP. The competition followed an in-class workshop held on March 2, which was facilitated by ADP mentors Shelley Coons, vice president of sales; Lucas LeRoy, sales executive; Caleb Lee ’19, senior district manager; and Alyssa Nasso ’20, district manager.

The Perfect Pitch challenges students to rise to the occasion of personal selling when it comes to networking and potential employment opportunities. Students from a variety of majors are attracted to the course every year for this real life experience, connection with alumni, and potential for further opportunities. The course teaches students how to highlight their personal strengths while interviewing for potential job opportunities and gaining confidence in their ability to sell. 

Normally held face-to-face, the Perfect Pitch transitioned to virtual in fall 2020 in light of COVID-19.

“Despite the challenges we faced, the pandemic also provided an opportunity to restructure the class to include virtual selling components,” said Hodis. “Students’ ability to hold a successful professional dialogue in a virtual environment and sell themselves to a potential employer is just as important as a face-to-face interaction, if not more so in light of the current changes.”

Representatives from five companies volunteered their time and judged the first round of the competition.

Section one was judged by Anthony Morano, sales executive and Tyler Adams ’20, district sales manager from ADP; Joseph Grannell ’18, account manager and Mary Claire Gosvernor ’19, technical recruiter from TekSystems; Matt Delgado ’13, ’14 (MBA), account manager from Hover; and Alexandra Ormond ’19, account manager from Launch Team Inc.

Section two was judged by Dan Clement, associate sales executive and Austin Sanfilippo ’19, district manager from ADP; Joseph Grannell ’18, account manager and Malcom Kelsey ’17, account manager from TekSystems; Emma Neatrour ’15, assistant vice president of marketing and Alison Taylor ’14, vice president of corporate marketing from First American Equipment Finance.

“I am so incredibly grateful for the continued support for our Fisher students from our local business community and for the partnership with ADP. I would not be able to deliver this portion of the course as effectively without amazing volunteers and mentors who come back semester after semester,” said Hodis. “Over time, this competition has grown beyond a valuable hands-on learning experience for our students, and has become a unique opportunity to leave the class with a job or internship offer if they so desire, or at the very least a stronger personal business network.”

The experience proves to be extremely valuable to not only students, but the representatives that participate as well.

“We have had the pleasure of partnering with Dr. Hodis on the Perfect Pitch Competition for the past several years. The competition gives her students an incredible opportunity to sharpen their communication skills and learn how to tell their story to a potential employer,” said Shelley Coons, vice president of sales at ADP.

Tyler Adams ’20, district sales manager at ADP, participated in the Perfect Pitch when he was a student at Fisher, and this year had the opportunity to come back and serve as a representative. “The Perfect Pitch is a great introduction on how to break down your own strengths and weaknesses while hitting heavy on what you have accomplished throughout the years in such a short period of time. It allows students to step outside of their comfort zone and talk about themselves in a professional manner and receive feedback from professionals that were once in their shoes,” he said. “It was such an amazing opportunity to pitch myself to ADP when I was a student at Fisher and now to be on the other side as an ADP representative.”

This semester, nine students moved on to the final round held on Friday, March 5, including Alexis Gossage ’22, Dylan Stellmack ’22, Theresa VanWormer ’23, Anna Diakogiannis ’22, Paige Freer ’21, Brandon Lessig ’22, William Schmitt ’21, Curtis Curvilly ’23, and Andrew Casanova ’23.

After competing in the final round with judges from ADP, three winners were announced, with the top two winning cash prizes. Paige Freer ’21, management major, took first place receiving $100. Alexis Gossage ’22, media and communication major, came in second place, receiving a cash prize of $50. Lastly, William Schmitt ’21, management major, received an honorable mention and will be invited for a full virtual interview with the ADP team.

Mackenzie Patterson ’20 participated in the Perfect Pitch in December 2020 and said that throughout her time at Fisher, she found the Perfect Pitch to be one of the most beneficial experiences. She is now working as district manager of small business services at ADP.

“The reason I found it so helpful was it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the company I was applying for and how my past experiences would make me a perfect candidate for the position,” she said. “Further, this experience landed me a job at ADP less than a month later after graduating during a global pandemic. This personal selling class has really taught me how to use my skills and apply them daily to achieve the best outcome.”

St. John Fisher College graduates are finding career success as part of ADPs Digital Inside Sales Team. If you are interested in a career in sales, reach out and spend some time with our team to learn more!

The competition is also an example of the collaborative partnerships business faculty leverage to prepare their students for real careers. Many of those partnerships arise from the strong alumni networks that develop at local companies, such as ADP’s Digital Inside Sales Team, which boasts a number of Fisher graduates. Included on the team: Dan Clement, Cody Ashley , Luke Dunkelberg, Brian DiVirgilio, Brandon Sadlier, Austin Sanfilippo, Caleb Lee. Paul Poresky, Nick Zimmer, Stephanie Doser, Alyssa Nasso, Tyler Adams, and Mackenzie Patterson.

This article was written by Shannon Munier ’22, an intern with the School of Business.