Virtual Bilingual Sales Competition brings real triumphs.

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It may have been held in a virtual format, but the connections made at this year’s Global Bilingual Sales Competition were very real and potentially long-lasting.

The event, hosted by the FIU Global Sales Program and held March 16-18, marked the second year the competition was held virtually.

The event drew participants from across the U.S. and abroad. Twelve universities, including FIU, fielded a total of 46 participants. There was also a concurrent FIU student-only track.

Participants gave a 15-minute sales pitch in either Spanish or English, and some in both, with sponsors serving as judges. The product was sales and marketing software by product sponsor HubSpot. Sponsors judging included Salesforce, Northwestern Mutual, KnowBe4, Altria, Watsco, and the Miami Heat, among others.

Contestants tailored their pitches to either a vacation rental organization (English) or a fitness gym executive (Spanish). The role-play materials, available beforehand, provided context for each case. For example, in the vacation rental scenario, the contestant must forge a relationship with the executive being pitched, discover their marketing and sales concerns, and secure a second meeting.

Entrants came from Florida, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Peru.

The competition is popular for good reason, said Rafael Soltero, associate teaching professor of marketing and logistics at FIU’s College of Business.

“The first job for 50% of students who come out with any [business] degree, is a sales job,” he said. Yet they are often unprepared, said Soltero, who along with teaching personal selling, helps organize and coach the competition. Sales Program-sponsored competitions and courses, as well as co-curricular activities sponsored by the FIU Sales Society, help fill the gap. They are open to all FIU students.

Florida students had a strong showing, with first place going to FIU students Christopher Tapanes in English and Mariana Borobio Padilla for Spanish. Laura Valiente and Diana Huaman, both of the University of Central Florida, took first and second place in the bilingual final round. Top winners received $1,000 with the bilingual winner pocketing $1,500. Other winners received smaller awards.

Along with prizes, fun and new friends, Soltero wants participants to take home the knowledge that trust is the basis of successful selling, in every language.

A complete list of winners is available here.