MANA MBA Outreach: University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Wortmann Obermiller Cohon

“Why don’t they teach about manufacturers’ representatives in business schools?”

It’s a common question from MANA members, and one that has triggered MANA’s outreach to the academic community, most recently at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business MBA program.

As part of MANA’s engagement with the academic community, MANA CEO Charles Cohon participates quarterly as a judge in that school’s “Entrepreneurial Selling” course, and annually in its “The Hard Sell” case-based sales competition where “teams of first-year MBA students try to sell themselves, their company, and their product to a variety of prospective customers.”

This year’s “The Hard Sell” drew 90 student competitors and gave MANA exposure to both MBA students and executives who volunteered as judges for the event. Cohon, at right, is pictured with Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship Craig Wortmann and Senior Coach, Leadership Development Alice Obermiller.

Wortmann’s “Entrepreneurial Selling” course was featured in an Inc. magazine article, “The 10 Best Entrepreneurship Courses of 2011.” Chicago Booth’s MBA program has consistently in the top 3 schools in Business Week’s annual business school rankings.

“Experienced sales executives and professionals affiliated with sales are essential in helping participants process their learnings during and after the competition,” according to Chicago Booth’s “The Hard Sell” judges’ instructions. “Two to three judges are assigned to a classroom to play the role of the customer during each of three different sales meeting scenarios.

“Teams of students pass through the classroom to attempt to sell the product to the prospective customer during these sales meetings. Directly after each meeting judges share one or two key observations on the team’s performance to help them calibrate towards the next round. Each team will be scored on how well they managed the meeting towards a successful outcome, including ‘closing’ the sale.”

Learn more about what Professor Wortmann has to say about manufacturers’ representatives at

Can MANA help a business school in your area to teach its students about manufacturers’ representatives? Share a link to this post with your local business school, or send contact information for your school to