Undergraduate Sales Class Tops Altria Competition for Third Year Running
Marketing lecturer Vic Piscitello (second from left)
with Altria Regional Vice President Kent Zanargue
(far right) and the winning Eller team (left to right):
Sam Sharpstone, Alphonse Jacobellis, Laurel
Griffith, and Ryan Devonshire.
By Liz Warren-Pederson
For three years running, adjunct lecturer Vic Piscitello’s MKTG 428 Sales Communication class has topped the Altria Sales Case Competition. This year, undergraduates in his class beat out strong competition from schools including Washington, Cal, and USC, at the finals in Santa Monica.
Marketing senior Ryan Devonshire said that, as a team, the class was asked to take on a case study on wine sales. “We were asked to take on the role of a distribution company attempting to sell the vineyard’s wine to a supermarket chain known as Get-a-Lot,” he said. “Specifically, we were offering a brand new Pinot Noir.”
“We were given basic yearly statistical data for each wine as well as company info for the distributor and the supermarket,” said marketing senior Sam Sharpstone. “Using all the information, we sifted through the case to find important data and used that to generate a winning sales presentation.”
“Each team member had specific tasks and duties on the project,” said marketing senior Alphonse Jacobellis. “We all added our own areas of expertise to allow for the most dynamic and well-prepared presentation possible.”
The team’s presentation included three different pricing strategies, a promotional period plan, financials, a corporate social responsibility program, distribution and service, and a timeline.
“What set us apart was that we kept our approach simple, but addressed all of their needs and concerns,” Jacobellis said. “We didn't try and get too extravagant with unrealistic strategies. Rather, we assessed what the buyer truly needed, and came up with the most seamless and cost-efficient approach to fulfill those needs.”
“Besides a good grade, we were able to integrate what we learned in class toward the case,” Sharpstone said. “Case analysis taught me to pick out the crucial details it takes to be successful in business. It’s nice to actually be able to put what I learned to the test against other schools.”
“The opportunity to present to Altria senior managers was a one-of-a-kind experience that proved to be very beneficial,” Devonshire said. “The competition encompassed all of the class concepts we studied and allowed us to use our personal creativity, as well.”
Devonshire said he was exposed to a sales-intensive environment during his summer internship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and thought the class would build on that experience. “I was also intrigued by the idea about competing in a sales competition,” he added.“My friends recommended Vic's class and told me how he is hilarious,” Sharpstone said. “Both of them said to me, ‘Vic is the man!’ We learn about word-of-mouth marketing, but this was my first experience with how that applies to teachers.”
Learn more about the Department of Marketing's undergraduate program.