Sales Competition Prepares Students for Careers

Oct. 4, 2019

SHARE: twitter.png facebook.png linkedin.png  

MISSOULA – 21 University of Montana College of Business students participated in a career-shaping experience as contestants in the Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition last week. The event, now in its sixth year at UM, challenged students to sell a product to a potential client in a role-play setting.

In the process, the students got to sharpen their interpersonal and verbal communication abilities — skills they'll need throughout their careers.

As each student pitched a product to a live client, judges watched a live video feed from another room in Gallagher Business Building. Judges included seasoned sales executives, entrepreneurs, and other members of the business community. They evaluated the contestants on everything from their ability to describe the offering to their skill in overcoming client concerns. Students received live coaching and feedback from the judges based on their performance.

For the top three contestants, there was also the reward of a total of $4,000 in scholarships. Northwestern Mutual awarded $2,500 to Teresa Zortman, $1,000 to Shane Cox, and $500 to Olivia Flamand on Thursday at the annual Competition Awards Banquet and Networking Event.

Zortman and Cox will have the opportunity to represent UM in the Northwestern Mutual National Collegiate Sales Competition this spring at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. With students from more than 70 universities from across the country competing in that event, it is the largest and oldest sales role-play competition in existence.

Northwestern Mutual initiated the contest at the University of Montana in 2014 as a way to make a deeper connection with students while visiting the College of Business to recruit for interns and long-term employees. 

Pictured above (L to R): College of Business Interim Dean Suzanne Tilleman, first-place winner Teresa Zortman, Northwestern Mutual Chief Development Officer Michael Butler, second-place winner Shane Cox, third-place winner Olivia Flamand, and Northwestern Mutual recruiter Christy Baldner Castronovo.


The University of Montana is the flagship university of the state. The College of Business at UM is nationally renowned and has been named the top business school in the Big Sky Conference by U.S. News and World Report for four consecutive years.