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Sales competition enables a career boost for sales students


Turku UAS, Finland, is the most active organizer of sales competitions in Europe. In Turku UAS, sales competitions have been organized since 2011. Originally designed to take place on site, the competitions were adapted to the omni sales situations with both an online and an onsite sales interactions. In spring 2023, the Turku UAS arranged two competition’s with totally 650 participants, where the qualifying rounds took place online and the finals on site.

The sales competition is a pedagogical method developed for learning and assessment of learning, launched more than ten years ago in the European education institutions along with an EU project by Turku UAS. This spring, too, sales competitions were organized at the local, national and international level. At Turku UAS, the local sales competitions are used as a learning method, in which every competition involves student coaching and training, usually as a part of a curricula involved course. Traditionally, the judges in Turku UAS’ own sales competitions are both representatives from the corporate world, faculty members and students from other courses. Those competitors, who have earlier competed in the sales competitions, Turku UAS’ Master’s degree students, faculty members and corporate representatives act in the roles of buyers.

The competition is based on a B2B sales situation, which is build with company partner and is as close as possible related to working life situation.

Sales competition enables the development of sales competences

Sales competition enables the development of sales competences in a role-playing situation, in which the competitors demonstrate their sales skills in a B2B setting, which adheres to a preplanned case. Each competitor has an individual sales interaction with the buyer, with pre-trained judges assessing the success of the interaction. This year, If Insurances offered a real case to the Finnish-language Turun Myyntikokemus competition and the welding automation company Pemamek Oy offered a case to the English-language Turku Sales Competition.

A summer job from the competition

The competition inspires students. The concept works and it will provide a committed student plenty of good experiences.

–  The competition is a good method for training sales in practice and also gain more experience and self-confidence, says Pauliina Aaltonen, who participated in the Finnish-language competition this year.

Aaltonen gained concrete benefits from the sales competition, as she got a summer job at If.

The sales competition is a good experience, which opens a lot of possibilities, and can go a long way

Pauliina Aaltonen had prepared thoroughly for the competition. This helped a lot in the actual competition.

–  In the sales competition I learned that preparing yourself is worth it and it also helps in surprising situations. It is important that you know the product or service you are selling as well as possible and that asking the open ended questions and highlighting the benefits of the product or service particularly to the buying company is essential if you want to do well.

According to Pauliina Aaltonen, the final interaction was exciting. However, she left the finals feeling good and after it, the competitors could also meet the personnel from If, who were involved in the competition.

Pemamek Oy enjoyed the sales competition concept

In 2023, the main cooperation partner for the Turku Sales Competition was Pemamek Oy, a welding automation company from Loimaa, Finland. HR Manager Niina Nurmi and Application Manager Lauri Paasio from Pemamek emphasized that Turku UAS is an important cooperation partner to them. Pemamek is constantly looking for new experts, such as trainees, summer employees and thesis workers. Some students will also get a permanent position in the company.

According to the Pemamek representatives, they have had a good experiences on different cooperation projects with Turku UAS. They describe the sales competition as a functional and well-planned concept, which companies would benefit from.

–  In addition to a unique experience and positive visibility, we gained direct student contacts and invited all finalists to visit our headquarters. I believe that through this competition, we will at some point enter into at least one employment relationship, Niina Nurmi says.

Turku Sales Competition featured a sales case based on the company’s products. As the product was genuine and exists in the Pemamek repertoire, the entire competition was very realistic. Both Nurmi and Paasio felt that the competitors had excellently taken on the challenging sales case and meticulously studied both the case and the company and field in question.

–  I have nothing but praise for the finalists: they are holding all the cards to a successful future and a great career – wherever they end up, Nurmi and Paasio think.

The first double winner in Turku

After additional coaching, finalists of the Turku Sales Competition held in English, Jan Nummela, Joona Partanen and Jaakko Ihalmo participated in the European Sales Competition (ESC) 2023, which was organized in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands at the turn of May–June. Around 70 contestants from 10 different countries competed in the European Sales Competition.

Sales Engineering student Jaakko Ihalmo won both the Turku Sales Competition and the European Sales Competition, being the first winner of the ESC from Turku UAS and the second from Finland, and the first Finnish ESC finalist in eight years.

Picture 1. Sales Engineering student Jaakko Ihalmo won both the Turku Sales Competition and the European Sales Competition, being the first winner of the ESC from Turku UAS and the second from Finland, and the first Finnish ESC finalist in eight years. (Photo: Harri Lappalainen)

–  Sales competitions are an excellent opportunity to present your competence and learn new skills in realistic situations, says Jaakko.

Senior Lecturer Harri Lappalainen, one of the two coaches for ESC competitors, and who guided the Turku UAS team on the ESC23 journey, was (again) this year pleased with the effort of all three Turku UAS’ students.

–  You can see it in the guys that once they start selling, things will soon change hands. All of them are smart, nice, competent young men, Lappalainen rejoices.

The European Sales Competition has been organized since 2015 in its current format. The organizer of the competition is selected based on applications and in 2024, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences will host the ESC competition.

More information

The European Sales Competition Association (ESCA) was founded in 2015 to strengthen the studies of sales across Europe by bringing the art of sales to be more visible to the public, sharing the best teaching practices and by benchmarking the best universities across Europe.

ESCA ensures the continuum and success of the European Sales Competition and is led by Timo Holopainen from Turku UAS, Finland. For more information, visit

This article has previously been published in Finnish in this TALK magazine.

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