Amanda (Mandy) Zicherman has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, which she attributes to her natural curiosity, creativity and penchant for problem-solving. This interest was at the top of her mind when she began her college search.
“I chose to attend the University of Delaware because I was very impressed with Horn Entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurship major after learning more about it during a Decision Day,” Zicherman shared. “I also liked that I was able to pursue my other interests through other UD programs such as the Access:Ability Scholars Program.”
Zicherman is a member of the Class of 2023, entrepreneurship and management double major at UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, with a minor in disability studies. She is very involved with Horn Entrepreneurship at UD, using their many resources to help build her own entrepreneurial endeavor, Navigating Access, an active mapping platform meant to improve accessibility in communities and also raise awareness of accessibility issues. She was a finalist in the pre-revenue track at Hen Hatch, earning cash prizes to help further develop and grow her venture.
As Zicherman continued to grow confident in her entrepreneurial skills through her coursework at Lerner, one area of business that challenged her was sales. In the fall of 2021, she enrolled in a course called Entrepreneurial Selling, ENTR452, led by Adjunct Faculty and Horn Signature Internship Coordinator Ted Foltyn. As part of this course, students competed in RNMKRS, a national competition with 60 schools and over 3,000 students who participated by learning and practicing the five sales steps to communicate with an artificially intelligent customer bot.
“At the start of the semester, I was not really confident in my sales skills, and I needed to spend a lot of time honing those skills in order to be successful in the competition,” she shared. “Through my Entrepreneurship 452 course, I learned about the different stages of the sales process and what should be done at each stage. Through Horn, I also learned how to conduct customer interviews and how to ask questions that lead to getting good insights. I feel like that really helped me through the discovery process of the competition.”
“Mandy was a great contributor in class, clearly engaged in learning sales,” Foltyn said. “However, she somewhat quietly decided to put forth great effort in this competition! Some students say ‘I’m really going to practice at this’ to outwardly set a goal for themselves. Mandy just quietly kept practicing and getting better at her scores. As I reviewed the top performers in class, I could see how other students were positively impacted by Mandy’s hard work, as their practices went up as they saw her level of commitment to it!”
Her commitment and extra practice paid off when at the end of the competition Zicherman discovered that she had placed in the top 1% of participants in the National RNMKRS competition and was named the top UD student out of over 90 Blue Hens participating.
When asked what it was like to find out about her success in the competition, Zicherman said, “I felt proud because I did not believe that selling was something that I was naturally good at. I spent a lot of time practicing during the semester to improve my sales skills and was both excited and pleased to learn that my efforts had improved my skills enough to place in the top 1% of the national competition. And then, I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that I was the top UD student.”
“I was thrilled for Mandy!” Foltyn shared. “Frankly, it is one thing to practice a lot, which anyone can do, but Mandy also improved her sales ability a great deal. That combination was inspiring for me and her classmates.
“The top 1% nationally is a big, big deal! (And #1 among UD students.),” he continued. “Some schools place a huge emphasis on the RNMKRS competition. For us it is just one component of what our students are measured on, so for Mandy to put that much work into it, and outperform so many others is very inspiring!”
Sales skills have become increasingly important for new graduates entering the job market today, where selling is now a major aspect of almost every industry. One of the fastest growing minors at UD is the professional selling and sales management program at the Lerner College. The courses in this minor provide students of any major with the concepts and language of personal selling and sales management
Last summer, Zicherman interned with Venture for America as an operations specialist. This summer, she will use her newfound sales skills while participating in the Human Resources Analyst Development Program at JPMorgan Chase. She is also continuing her efforts to develop the platform for Navigating Access as she heads into her final year at the University of Delaware.