Buyer Guide - Fall 2023
Connect Role Play
OCTOBER 19, 2023 9:30-11:00 A.M.
Thank you for partnering with us as a role play buyer!
This page has everything you should need for preparing for and participating in the role play:
- Timeline and Microsoft Teams meeting links for your role play session.
- An overview of the role play scenario, buyer roles, key goals and challenges, and key concerns
- How to begin and end the role play and transition to providing decision feedback and coaching
- The students' sales call goals, evaluation criteria and a form to share your decisions with us
If you need other help before the role play please email email@example.com. If you need help the day of the role play, please email Rick Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Katy Ortega at (860) 486-9010.
Overview of the Connect Call
During our semester-long role play, students play Business Development Representatives at Impact, a Connecticut-based marketing agency. The "connect" call is the first in a multiple-call sales process. You may know it as a prospecting, or qualifying call.
You will be working in pairs. One of you will role-play the Director of the UConn Full-time MBA program, who is looking to improve her digital marketing presence in order to recruit more applicants. The other will be observing and providing additional coaching to the students after the role play. Feel free to trade off these two tasks as you role-play with 4-5 students.
The students have scheduled a 9-11-minute video meeting with you to learn a little bit about your marketing goals, plans and challenges, briefly introduce how they might help you, and close for a longer fact-finding sales call to dig more deeply into areas for potential mutual opportunity.
- 9:30 Partners Pre-Meeting: Use the "Partners Pre-Meeting Link" button below to check in with Rick Shannon, the course instructor. He will preview the role-play, answer questions and help resolve any technical issues. You will then leave this pre-meeting and join your assigned breakout meeting, where you will stay for the rest of the roleplay. We are using Microsoft Teams for these meetings. If this is your first time using Teams, you do NOT need to download anything- see this 40-second video for a quick preview of joining a Microsoft Teams meeting as a guest. If you would like more time to get your questions answered, feel free to log in earlier: Prof. Shannon will be online starting at 9:00
- 9:45 First Student Team Joins: Although this is a one-on-one call, students will join with their teams. This allows them to observe more roleplays, and hear your feedback. Each team will have selected two members to roleplay the 9-11 minute connect call. So after a greeting "out of role", one student will start the role play. When they finish, immediately provide 4-6 minutes of feedback. Then repeat this sequence with a second student from the same team.
- 10:15 Second Student Team Joins: Repeat. If this team has five students, you will role-play with three of them.
- 10:45: Finalize feedback to the instructor using the form at the bottom of this page: Submit your GROUP rankings of the INDIVIDUAL students that you saw, noting which met your threshold for accepting another meeting. You may award a meeting to none of the students, all of the students, or anywhere in between. Students will earn points towards their grade for each buyer who awards them a meeting. We will not be regrouping: once you have submitted your feedback, you are finished. So thank you in advance for your time and coaching, it has a huge impact on the students.
Video Meeting Links (Microsoft Teams)
Meet Mia Hawlk (our buyer)
You will be working in pairs, one playing Mia and one observing and providing additional sales coaching. Feel free to swap roles during the role play if you want, just let the students know.
Executive Director of MBA Programs
Mia is responsible for overseeing the entire scope of UConn's MBA Programs.
Mia has worked in higher education for 15 years. Eight of those years have been in Graduate Business Education. She joined UCONN in 2014. As the Executive Director, she oversees and provides leadership for all of the MBA degree programs. Mia enjoys connecting with her students and helping them to find balance in their work, school and home lives.
Mia is actively engaged in the national MBA community and was appointed to the national advisory board for part time and online MBA programs in 2020. In 2021 along with a colleague from Villanova she co-founded the Big East Part-time MBA consortium in an effort to increase knowledge share among peer institutions. She is a member of many organizations that promote female leadership, and recently has been speaking about the challenge of balancing motherhood during COVID.
Mia holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and also teaches technical communications for the MS in Business Analytics and Project Management program at UConn.
About Mia's goals and challenges
Reveal this information as appropriate to respond to student questions.
- You are always battling to get higher rankings. UConn tends to rank in the top 25 public US MBA programs, and the top 100 programs globally. Key to this is attracting quality students into the program and delivering high-quality courses and programming. This helps students gain high-quality positions after they graduate, which generates satisfied alumni who support the program.
- Your current key goal is to increase quality enrollments. You recruit students to enter twice a year, in spring and fall. Last year, you enrolled 300 students (~150/semester) and would like to enroll 350 students in the upcoming year (175/semester). Longer term, you would like to get to 500 students annually, ideally while reducing your admissions ratio from 40% to 30%.
- A small, stretched in-house marketing team at the School supports your program. The team is led by your colleague Bill Eyre, who is a marketing expert. A newer member of his team, Tora Ogueri, spends about half of her time working on marketing for the MBA program. You meet with them regularly to discuss goals and challenges.
- You are specifically looking for help at the top of your recruiting funnel: attracting visitors to your website, capturing their contact information so you can interact with them more personally, and convincing qualified applicants to complete the online application. Once you have applications, you have a strong admissions process that yields good conversions to quality admits. But competition is fierce, and you both suspect you need to do something different to attract and engage with prospective students earlier in their decision-making process.
- Keeping digital marketing content fresh is an ongoing challenge. Your marketing team keeps the website updated, but you suspect you should be ramping up new digital content much faster than you are right now. Three areas that regularly come up in discussion with your marketing team include:
- Social Media- more channels, more posts, using more effectively.
- Video Content- more content, how to produce more efficiently.
- Paid Advertising- where to advertise on search and social media, how to get a better return.
- You have about six months to recruit each entering cohort. This makes getting going quickly very important, but also means that you may need to put off longer term activities until you have made good progress on this year's goal.
- While you have a great deal of influence, you will not be the final decision-maker. Your marketing colleague Bill will make any decision to hire a marketing agency. However, your programs are both strategically and financially important to the School, making you influential in the decision.
Beginning and ending each role play
We've asked the student teams to initially enter the meeting "out of role" so that you can all introduce each other, they can confirm who is playing Mia and address any technical issues. Once that has been done, please give them a verbal "let's start" signal.
The students should be closing the call by asking you to confirm a date and time for a next appointment. You can choose how to move forward from there.
- You can tell them you need more time to think (or talk with someone.. etc). This is the default option, and allows you to then deliver your "why" or "why not" as sales coaching. Students will know that this is often used as a softer way of saying no, so they should be coming back and asking for specific information that might be helpful, the role of the new person in the purchase process, etc. They should not end the conversation until you have agreed to another followup meeting at a specific time within the next day or two.
- You can give them your positive decision "in role". This is a huge morale booster, and a great reward if both of you think the student nailed the call. This does require you to have some sort of pre-planned way of communicating this to each other.
From there you move to giving feedback and coaching, your most valuable contribution to their learning.
Providing decision feedback and coaching
After each student completes the role play, you will have 4-6 minutes to let the students know your individual decisions on whether they actually would have won the next meeting and then provide some coaching. So before the first role play, please spend a moment deciding as a buying team how you want to manage this.
In this roleplay, the student teams are competing against each other. Together you will be individually ranking the students from best to worst and deciding which students would actually get a meeting using the feedback form below. Their teams will receive points toward their roleplay competition scores based on their rankings
The students value your immediate, candid feedback on their performance. Consider starting your feedback by asking the students why they think the call ended the way it did. Then reinforce things they raise and bring up things they missed, using the criteria listed below as a guide. This approach allows for self-reflection by the students--a key skill we aim to build through this type of learning experience.
About the students' goals for their connect sales call
- "Connect": Build some interpersonal rapport with you.
- "Explore": Learn a little bit about your goals, plans and challenges, in a way that allows them to identify you as a qualifed sales opportunity (you are one!)
- "Advise": Briefly introduce how they might help you, in a way that piques your curiosity and motivates you to move forward with them, without launching into a pitch,
- "Commit": Gain agreement on an appropriate next step, in this case a specific date and time for a longer fact-finding sales call to dig more deeply into areas for potential mutual opportunity.
- "Connect": builds good rapport: Students should start the call by spending time effectively building rapport: volunteering things they might have in common with Mia, demonstrating interest in Mia as a person. Stronger students will spend more time here than weaker ones, and will also better follow your cues on when to transition the discussion to its business purpose.
- "Explore": probes for business impact: Students should own the agenda and discussion, asking questions and adapting their follow-up questions to your responses. Stronger students will go beyond fact-finding and situation questions to explore challenges and opportunities and the business impact of addressing and pursuing them. They will also ask more questions about buying process, and others involved in buying decision.
- "Advise": provides motivating preview of capabilities: Students should provide a quick preview of the types of solutions they offer that could create value for you, and why they could credibly deliver the business results you need from these solutions. Stronger students will be able to demonstrate that they have some expertise in digital marketing, while resisting the natural urge to move into extended time pitching (even if prompted by "tell me a little about what Impact does").
- "Commit": asks for a followup meeting with a clear goal: Students should be clear on their proposed next step and ask for a specific time and date to meet with you. Stronger students should persist when you defer, earning your commitment by listening to you and responding to what you say, while making it clear why moving forward is in your best interest. They should also explore for others involved in the buying process and nudge you to include them in the next meeting.
- "Overall": in control, professional: Students should take responsibility for the flow of the conversation, with confident and professional interactions that balance listening and talking. Stronger students will be more comfortable going off their agenda, letting the conversation take its natural path, while still maintaining enough control and gathering enough information to keep the result productive for both of you.
Providing feedback to the instructor
Your last task is to provide feedback to Professor Shannon so that he can award course points. Please download this form to share your GROUP feedback. Email your completed form, or a photo of a paper version, to email@example.com
Thank you in advance for your part in helping our students learn. As an added thank you, you will soon receive an email with a link to a page with profiles of all the students in the course, and their LinkedIn contact information.