Jackie Swoyer, a junior and a Business and Enterprise Management (BEM) major at Wake Forest University, was announced winner of the first National State Farm Marketing and Sales Competition held in Warrensburg, MO, on Friday, November 12.
The multi-round competition required students to develop a detailed written marketing and sales plan targeted at the 18-25 year-old demographic, one of State Farm’s most challenging demographic groups to maintain. This plan was judged before the competition by a panel of State Farm executives. Then students competed in multiple rounds of simulated sales encounters in front of a panel of three to five judges each.
Parker Schweer, also a junior and BEM major, made it successfully through the 2nd round. The competition involved students from seven other universities, including Louisiana State University and University of Texas at Austin.
Pat Dickson, Ph.D., and Michelle Steward, Ph.D., both BEM faculty at the Schools of Business, offered the Wake Forest students feedback on their written sales plans, and coordinated with local State Farm employees who offered sales training sessions to both students.
“Dr. Dickson and Dr. Steward were instrumental in guiding us through this process. They both were very accommodating and were extremely interested in seeing us excel in the competition.” said Swoyer. “With Dr. Steward’s encouragement I created a brand around my marketing plan, which really helped me uniquely position my portfolio.”
“This was an opportunity to have their talents showcased in front of a Fortune-50 company,” said Steward. “During Jackie’s session, you could feel the excitement in the room from the State Farm employees watching her hit each of the marks central to their brand.”
Swoyer also recalled the moment she completed her final presentation and was led to a central viewing room where she was allowed to watch the remainder of the competition.
“For some reason, I expected that maybe four or five extra people might be watching me do my mock sales call,” she said. “To my complete shock and amazement, when I walked into the room, I was met with an audience of probably fifty or sixty, many applauding and standing from their seats. I was so excited. Almost every person in the room made an effort to tell me what a great job I had done. I couldn't believe it.”
Swoyer received a check from State Farm for $5000 for winning first prize. She said her next challenges will be finding a summer internship and exploring her career options.
“This experience has given me a huge boost of confidence. I was so intimidated walking into the competition, but what I learned more than anything is that I have a lot to bring to the table. I had such an amazing experience, from competing, to meeting students from other schools, to socializing with some of the highest State Farm executives in the country,” said Swoyer.