The 2022 competition was the first one held in person since 2019.
On May 10, 39 students from the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business participated in the fourth annual Sales & Customer Relationship Strategy Competition hosted by the Center for Sales & Customer Relationship Excellence. This was the first time since 2019 that the competition was held in person at Rawls College.
The Sales & Customer Relationship Strategy Competition was first held in the 2018-19 academic year. The competition allows students to work on company-sponsored projects to research and solve pressing business problems.
Atul Parvatiyar, director of The Center for Sales & Customer Relationship Excellence and professor of practice of marketing, spoke to the students about the uniqueness of this competition and gave some career advice.
“This is one of the programs that puts you in the spot as if you were an advisor or consultant or a project manager,” said Parvatiyar. “If you want to rise, you've got to work on projects. And when you work on projects, that's when you're able to shine.”
Teams first began working on their projects for the 2022 competition back in February at the competition's kick-off event.
Now, student teams had an opportunity to present their findings and recommendations to a rotating panel of 34 judges. Each team had 30-minutes for their presentation and 20-minutes for answering questions.
In total, there were seven company clients and eight student teams.
Dell Technologies had two teams working on two different projects for this year's competition, aptly named Dell I and Dell II. Both teams were tasked with addressing concerns stemming from “The Great Resignation,” the largely unprecedented wave of people quitting their jobs across the globe in the last year.
Dell I was tasked to develop a strategy to combat increased resignation rates and ways to attract and retain an early-career talented workforce. After conducting secondary and primary research, Dell I came up with over 50 potential ideas, which were narrowed down to the seven the team presented at the competition.
Dell II was asked to research the causes, issues and challenges confronting the nearly five million new entrepreneurs who started their small businesses in the past two years. The team identified industry sectors and companies that Dell Technologies could focus on offering critical business services. Dell II also noted that loneliness was a major challenge facing new business owners and suggested that Dell start a community program fostering peer-learning among small business owners.
Jordan Ford, a San Antonio car dealership, asked its team to consider ways the dealership could streamline its vehicle purchasing and service experience. Along with some secondary research on significant trends and topics, the team created surveys targeted at future car buyers and the employees of Jordan Ford to understand the customer journey process and any points of friction. The team made strategic recommendations for integrating digital technologies, personalized services and a relational program to enhance the customer buying experience.
MasVida Health Care Solutions
MasVida Health Care Solutions provides comprehensive and customizable environmental hygiene and disinfecting solutions to health care service organizations. The team was asked to identify potentially lucrative target markets that MasVida Health could enter from a pre-determined list. After eliminating several markets based on first and second cut criteria, the team recommended MasVida consider entering three markets: ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care centers and primary care facilities. The team also provided marketing suggestions for those new markets, including trade shows, email marketing and health magazine ads.
Surgic, a Texas Tech Innovation Hub start-up developing a high-fidelity surgical training simulator, asked its team to evaluate the product features it could include in its training device and to determine the potential market for its devices. The team contacted teaching hospitals and medical professionals to understand preferred product features, price options and training practices among potential customers and users of the Surgic simulator device. The team also suggested specific regions of the United States where Surgic should first launch its product.
TTU Auxiliary Services
TTU Auxiliary Services asked its team to discover features that enhance or diminish the student campus-life experience at Texas Tech University. The team focused on three main services: student housing, hospitality and the recreational center. The team conducted several focus groups and immediately noticed that a lack of communication was brought up in each focus group. To address this issue, the team partnered with a Voice of the Customer (VoC) system that allowed students to call or text a number and leave feedback regarding their experiences at the University Recreational Center (URec). The pilot implementation of the VoC system resulted in more than 120 responses from students in just six days and provided invaluable data about what students enjoy and what they deem needs improvement at URec. The team ultimately recommended that TTU Auxiliary Services implement a VoC system across all of its facilities to obtain actionable feedback and increase student enjoyment of campus facilities.
Texas Tech Museum
The TTU Museum participated in the sales strategy competition to consider ways to increase its awareness outside of West Texas, promote the Natural Science and Research Laboratory (a branch of the TTU Museum) and consider the implications of charging an admission fee. Based on their research, the team realized that the awareness of the museum was relatively low within Lubbock and its vicinity itself. Thus, there was a need to focus on increasing awareness and visitors from West Texas first by partnering with various local institutions, including schools, hotels and the Chamber of Commerce. The team also recommended strategies to increase the presence of the museum at various strategic locations, such as the airport, sports stadium, hotel lobbies and on the web.
West Carrollton Parchment & Converting Inc. (WCPC)
WCPC, a manufacturer of such products as pan liners, tamale wraps, aluminum foil and filter papers, asked its team to develop a sales lead generation program within its budgetary and personnel limitations. The team conducted secondary research and primary research to better understand how WCPC's competitors were marketing their brands. The team also conducted a digital audit of WCPC to understand its online presence and how it could potentially enhance or deter the generation of sales leads and the hiring of new talent for the company. The team came up with a three-step plan: hire a third-party marketing firm, become an early adopter of more sustainable products and increase activity on job-search websites.
And the winners are…
The competition winners were announced at a dinner and awards ceremony hosted by Dean Margaret L. Williams at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
The Jordan Ford and TU Auxiliary Services teams tied for third place. Each team received a $2,500 scholarship to split among members.
The Dell I and MasVida Health Care Solutions teams tied for second place. Each team received a $5,000 scholarship to split among members.
The Surgic team came in first place and received a $20,000 scholarship to split among its members.
Travis Reiss, CEO of Surgic, spoke candidly about the quality of work that the student team completed.
“You've all impressed us very much,” said Reiss. “You really delivered. That's what this competition is all about: getting out of the classroom and solving real-world problems.”
Students of the remaining teams were recognized and received a small scholarship to reward their work.
“You should all be proud of what you've accomplished here,” said Parvatiyar, “and you should be proud of what you'll do moving forward.”