It was only two and a half minutes, but it felt like an eternity for Kevin Killips. Like 103 other students from 53 schools in the same competitive situation, the Terry marketing major had only 20 minutes to pitch his product. But six minutes into his presentation, the buyer got up and left the room. As Killips sat there with a camera trained on him from the corner of the office, only one thing came to mind: Don't look stupid.
Killips knew this sudden exit and subsequent return of his would-be buyer was a curve ball thrown by the judges. Unbeknownst to him, a National Collegiate Sales Competition audience of 500 watching him on closed circuit TV was amused with his aplomb. Many of these judges and professional recruiters paid upwards of $25,000 to see some of the best marketing students in the country sell the NetSuite software management tool in elaborate role-playing sessions.
Thanks to Killips' sales experience and the counsel of Terry marketing professor Kevin Ellis, who prepped his students for the rigors of the NCSC through hours of practice, the Terry College senior laughed all the way to the bank. He walked out of Kennesaw State University that Saturday night with a $1500 suit from Tom James, a new laptop computer, and — for coming within decimal points of winning the whole thing — a third-place check for $1000.
"Kevin is intense. He is results oriented. He's a competitor who is involved in every aspect of his life," says Ellis, who admires Killips for his performance not only in class, but also as a member of both the LEAD program and UGA's prestigious Arch Society, a select group of 36 students who serve as goodwill ambassadors for the university.
"I have a very competitive drive and I can get that in sales," says Killips, the son of a former college basketball coach and athletic director. He originally wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but he noticed how well his sister and brother in-law were doing in media sales. He got initially involved with a side venture of theirs called Ad Mobile that employs tri-fold billboard technology. Killips was soon making sales to bring Ad Mobile to UGA home football games, and he interned as an agent for with Northwestern Mutual Life.
"My parents took the stance that they would help me out when needed, but I would provide for myself in college," says Killips, a HOPE scholarship recipient who credits Ellis, the Terry College, and his internship for not only helping him achieve success at the NCSC, but for grooming him for a promising future. Killips has already accepted a full-time position at The Hartford.
The helping hand Killips got from Terry is etched firmly on his mind as he graduates in May. "God willing, I make some money," he says. "I want to establish a small scholarship some day. It doesn't have to be in my name, but to just have that opportunity when I had a rough time paying for college my four years. I think it will be important for me to give back to Terry."