What to do when you’re the new boss

What to do when you’re the new boss
by Matt Bowman – October 2013

Anyone in the sports business very long knows one may have to relocate to advance one’s career.  While certainly not a requirement, top executives have made a few stops in different cities in different sports and with different organizations throughout their career.  It can be an exciting but daunting task to ingratiate yourself with an entirely new team.

Such transitions are challenging for a sales leader, but also provide an awesome opportunity to build (or re-build) a sales team and place your stamp on that organization.

Looking back on my experiences as the new Sales Manager (OKC Thunder) and now Vice President at the Dallas Stars, I’ve noticed some commonalities that might help other sales leader joining a new team.

Take your time, but don’t take too much time

Your first few weeks of the new job are exciting! If you’re like me, you want to start making an impact immediately.  It’s easy, however, to try to take on too much too quickly without having a good enough understanding of how your team operates or the nuances involved with every personality and process.

Key #1: Focus on your people. Let them know you are there to help them succeed. You are not there to flip the business on its head right off the bat.  You plan to lead them, but only until you have an understanding of how the business is operating from all angles.

That said, you were hired you for a reason.  You’ll need to provide feedback on solutions to the team’s issues soon after you start in your new role.  This brings me to my next point . . .

Focus on metrics

After meeting the sales staff the next stop is with your business analytics team, which may be in ticket operations with some teams.  Here, it is imperative to start gaining an understanding of the team’s sales performance over time.

Key #2: Get a grip on historical sales performance. How many season tickets are sold for the year?  How many group tickets and suite rentals?  What are the trends over the last three seasons for each?  Is the season ticket and group sales business growing or shrinking annually?

Key #3: Get a grip on staff performance. Who are the top performing sales representatives in each category?  Who makes the most phone calls and sets the most appointments?  Which reps are best at selling season tickets versus groups versus premium inventory?

SWOT detective

Meet with the staff again. Ask what they feel are their strengths and weaknesses.  Ask what obstacles they face in doing their job at maximum level.

Key #4: Network internally. Visit with department heads of non-sales divisions to introduce yourself.  Stop by the marketing office and sponsorship team to ask them about their major priorities and challenges.  The challenges of these two revenue-generating divisions will be similar to the ones you will face now and in the future.

Of course, on-ice, on-court, on-field performance is an obvious strength or weakness.  But other issues may emerge, such as poor customer service or lack of clarity in external communications.

Focus on your own staff’s business processes, from basic to complex: What does the sales process look like?  What happens when a sale is made?  Who processes the order?  Are there any areas of inconsistency or inefficiency?

Through this detective work the team culture – how everyone views their jobs, the organization and  leadership–will materialize.  As a new leader you can help shape culture.

Clearly present your solutions at the right time

After a couple of weeks in a new position, start to take action.

Key #5: Clarity. The best way to gain respect and support is to present your findings clearly.  First, present the hard data on sales trends and team performance. Second, present the reasons you’ve found behind the trends: inefficiencies, inconsistencies, or lack of processes.   Finally, be prepared to share your own experiences that demonstrate best thoughts on solutions.

Around the horn

Those are my steps and keys to success as the new boss of an NHL team. Here are a few thoughts from two other new Vice Presidents of Ticket Sales & Service in MLB and the NBA:

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Listen. Care. Act.

Jason Howard
Jason Howard

astros logoThe natural instinct may be to come in with what you think are the best practice systems, training, and framework. The reality is your success will only go as far as your people and their mindsets in wanting to understand and execute implementation plans. Hiring in from the outside and implementing new sales structures can be tough, but that’s not what I’m referencing. More importantly, we must APPRECIATE the mindset of the inherited staff.

When starting in Houston, one of the first things we committed to as a leadership team is a familiar quote  several mentors have shared:

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

Some truths to grasp and manage:

  1. Any change – especially leadership – is a difficult thing.
  2. Understand and appreciate why things were being done the way they were when we arrived.
  3. Find out how every staff member feels about their part in the organization. This was the very first thing we needed our focus on.

Once we learned peoples’ mindsets we could meet them where they were. Let them know we appreciated how hard they had worked to get to that point. THEN we knew our transparency on how we could best move forward as a team would be met with more acceptance. Why? Because they felt they were heard first.

Slowing down a little at the beginning allowed us to run much faster as we all got on the same page. Ultimately that approach allows best practices to be uploaded and executed more quickly and effectively.[/dropshadowbox]

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Prepare. Get personal.

timberwolves logo

Corey Breton
Corey Breton

One of the first things I did when I learned that I was fortunate enough to land the VP position with the Timberwolves and Lynx was to reach out to my new direct reports.

Prior to physically arriving in Minneapolis, I spent two hours in conversations with each direct report, along with sending them two books explaining my leadership philosophy and process.  This helped us become acclimated with each other much quicker, allowing for a more seamless transition.

As Matt and Jason pointed out, your people are your most valuable resource. They must be treated as such.

When I officially arrived in Minneapolis, one of the first things I focused on was sitting down with each of the staffs to tell them my personal story.  I didn’t speak about my work experience. Instead I spoke about my personal upbringing and the core values I stand for. I shared my personal hedgehog concept with them, allowing them to understand my motives, desires, and drivers.

My hope was to break down barriers. For them to see me as more than just a new guy in a suit. To see me as a human being with similar interests and aspirations.

Once I shared, I asked each member of the departments to (1) submit their personal definitions of the core values I provided, and (2) their personal answers to the hedgehog concept questions I asked.  With a unique perspective from each one, I had personal talking points about each individual in a short amount of time.  Overall, I believe this process helped me earn their trust and credibility, along with helping us gain valuable information about how to motivate and drive each individual to be successful. [/dropshadowbox]

What are your thoughts? How have you adjusted in your new leadership positions?

Let us know what you think. Click on the Tweet button below and let us know: @CMB711,@Matt_Bowman14, and @BaylorS3 (#newleader)


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S3 Alum Spotlight on Katy Gager

S3 Alum Spotlight on Katy Gager
Katy Gager
Katy Gager
by Justin Pipes – October 2013

Katy Gager (Baylor S3 ’08) is a Senior Account Executive at The Marketing Arm an agency based in Dallas, Texas. She represents and manages AT&T’s brand through corporate sponsorship of professional & collegiate sports properties in the Southeast Region.

Willing to move

Katy transferred to Baylor for the S3 program to begin her junior year. One of three transfers in the class, Katy was torn between UT and Baylor when deciding to transfer. Gager felt like Baylor was home and believed the S3 program gave her the best opportunity to start a successful career in sports. After moving halfway across the country from California, Gager experienced challenging projects through the curriculum from selling tickets for the Rangers (back in their losing days) to presenting sponsorship ideas for the AT&T Challenge.

Finding Her Niche

Gager quickly found  she  enjoyed the relationship focus in the field of sponsorship. All S3 majors are given a DISC assessment (DiSC Profile Website) to determine their own personal behavioral style and what types of careers are likely to fit them best. Katy has a high Steadiness trait, which “place[s] an emphasis on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out the task <ref>DiSC Profile Steadiness Overview</ref>.” Being a high S and having a more conscientious, detail-oriented personality helped make Katy a great fit for contributing to an agency sponsorship team.

Gager started her career at The Marketing Arm (TMA) in Dallas working on the Insights and Analytics team. She had the opportunity to work with over 25 different accounts including AT&T, State Farm and Frito Lay conducting research for each brand related to their sponsorships with properties nationwide. After becoming an account executive for TMA, she was able to pull from her knowledge of the brands objectives and her research background to manage programs for AT&T that would yield results and drive sales.

S3 Model

Eric Fernandez
Eric Fernandez

Eric Fernandez, Senior Vice President of MEDIALINK LLC, says,

“Katy is a great example of an S3 student who seized the opportunities presented to her.  While the S3 program prepared her for entering the sports marketing business, her work ethic, positive “can do” attitude and natural curiosity have contributed to her professional growth and advancement.  She’s achieved quite a bit in a short time and continually is a model representative of the S3 program.”

High praise also comes from Travis Dillon, Vice President of Activation and Property Management at The Marketing Arm.

Travis Dillon
Travis Dillon

“Katy is one of our rising stars at TMA.  She has been an integral part of our national college football program the past 2 years with AT&T and ESPN College GameDay and is quickly establishing herself as a leader on the team.  In addition, her insights and analytics background make her a valuable strategic asset to the team since day one.”

This work ethic, “can do” attitude and natural curiosity led to a recent promotion to Senior Account Executive.

Three Tips from Katy

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  1. Approach to Networking: Sports is a small industry. No matter where you are or have been, your name and personal brand will come up again with come up again. Continue to build your personal brand equity.
  2. Be a Problem Solver: Look for different areas of your client’s business and your business to solve problems all across the board. Be known as someone who finds solutions.
  3. Have a Great Attitude: Be a team player with a positive attitude when approaching all projects, including that those aren’t exactly your favorite.[/dropshadowbox]

 

Does using social media in selling increase performance?

Does using social media in selling increase performance?
by Wayne Guymon – October 2013

Social Media is all fun and no work, right?  Those “millennials” are always on their phones, checking Facebook and “LOL’ing” with their friends.  It always seems to be “tweet this” and “hashtag that.”  I can hardly understand what they are saying sometimes!

The truth of the matter is that social media, when used effectively, can be an extremely beneficial tool.

A study of business-to-business salespeople found that 42% frequently use social media in their selling efforts to:

  1. Build awareness.
  2. Prospect.
  3. Obtain leads.
  4. Connect with customers and keep them feeling important.
  5. Maintain good business relationships.
  6. Obtain referrals.
  7. Communicate thoroughly.

As we might guess, 73% of millennial’s use social media in selling, while 60% of Gen X salespeople do, and only 33% of baby boomers.

More importantly, the sales performance of those who use social media in these ways is significantly higher than those who don’t.

During a recent brainstorming session with one of my sales AE’s, we pulled up a prospective partner’s Facebook page.  By literally spending a few minutes browsing the page, we completely overhauled our proposal to incorporate some themes that we discovered.  When we subsequently made the pitch, the client remarked on how our theme was spot-on with their current objectives.

While there are plenty of fun and games involved, used effectively and efficiently, social media can help lead the sales charge for your sales teams.

How about your sales team?

At your next sales team meeting, see how your group is doing by asking the questions below.

How can we use social media and which social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, blogs, etc.) work best to:

  1. Increase your awareness among potential and current customers?
  2. Prospect new customers?
  3. Obtain leads? Referrals?
  4. Connect with customers and make them feel important?
  5. Maintain good business relationships?
  6. Communicate thoroughly?

We’d like to hear what you come up with! We’re all learning together! Tweet to us @BaylorS3 and @Wguymon. #sellsports


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The study of 309 B2B salespeople from a national sample was conducted by: Schultz, Robert J., Charles Schwepker, and David J. Good (2012). “An exploratory study of social media in B2B selling: Salesperson characteristics, activities, and performance,” Marketing Management Journal, 22 (2), 76-89.

Cover photo courtesy of Leah Carroll.

 

 

Have phone sales gone the way of the dinosaur?

Have phone sales gone the way of the dinosaur?
by Kris Katseanes – October 2013

Consider these changing dynamics of society:

  • More than 2/3 of event tickets are purchased online
  • The increasing number of homes with no land line, relying exclusively on cell phones:
    • Must consider legal solicitation rules/challenges
    • Increases chances of reaching someone in the middle of another activity as opposed to at home with time to talk.
    • Increases difficulty of finding appropriate number for household decision-maker
  • Sales professionals are the third hardest position to fill in America’s workforce (2012 poll)

Is texting killing us?

One reason we find it hard to fill new sales spots among young people is their mentality of text messaging.

Consider these statements from a recent USA Today article, “Would you break up by sending a text?

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#FFFF99″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]And the survey says…

“People are uncomfortable using the phone. A text message is easier. You can think exactly what you want to say and how to craft it. Over the phone, there’s this awkwardness.”

“I don’t love phone calls. It’s a lot more work than a text.”

“We tell ourselves we don’t want to disturb someone. Sometimes it’s true, but more often, it’s because we can’t get them off the phone. In texting, we don’t have to talk to people or listen to what another person has to say. We decide how we want to encounter or whether we want to encounter other people. Technology gives us tools for controlling our relationships.”[/dropshadowbox].

This is the way the next generation, and many others, feel about texts versus phone calls.

With as much as we use our phones, the reality is our consumers and employees aren’t very comfortable talking on the phone. They really don’t know how to effectively communicate with it.

What’s next?

Do I think phone sales are going away? No. Will the need for phone messaging go away? No.

What do we need to do?

First, we must recognize the cultural battle of using the phone. Second, we must become wiser about how we use the phone as a sales messaging tool.

I continue to see sales representatives find success with phone sales by using these simple principles:

1. One touchpoint. The phone call cannot be the only touch point to communicate with consumers. As one of a series of touch points, a phone call  communicates urgency and purpose.

2. Be specific. Call with a specific message, establish a clear agenda for the call, and get a commitment for ‘time needed’ and ‘agenda’ from the outset.

  • Calling with a clearly defined, well-articulated, BRIEF, message is respected and appreciated.
  • Those interested will make the initial commitment and allow for the call to continue.
  • Don’t waste time with those unable to make a time commitment right then. Conduct further outreach for the same message at a later time or a new outreach with a new message in the future.

3. WIIFM. Be sure the message includes the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). They will not give you time without knowing the potential benefit. Benefits may be financial, physical, or emotional in nature.

4. Preview the next touch point.  If you receive a voice-mail tell the customer to watch for an email later that day. Tell them why they should open it (to further illustrate point #3). This preview may be the one thing that causes your email to be opened not deleted.

There are many other ideas and techniques to make the phone a successful sales tool.  We’ll need to be creative and adaptive to be effective, but some things will always be tried and true if conformed to meet consumer standards.  I personally see picking up the phone and having conversations to be a sales anchor for years to come.

What do you think?

Since everyone is dealing with these issues, I asked a few other sales managers and trainers for their input on the subject.

Jeff Berryhill
Jeff Berryhill
Bryant Pfeiffer
Bryant Pfeiffer
Clark Beacom
Clark Beacom

“Sporting events are emotional entertainment and in most cases purchased for the emotion that it invokes.  The best way to sell this is through a human voice full of emotion and not words on a screen.” Clark Beacom, Vice President of Sales, Columbus Crew

“Phone and face to face sales are here to stay for the foreseeable future.  While there is no doubt the dynamic of ticket sales is shifting, face to face and phone sales will continue to thrive as long as people still have the instinct to negotiate.  Fans are very comfortable purchasing single events online, but when it comes to larger packages they will feel the most comfortable talking through the purchase with an expert.” Jeff Berryhill, Director, National Sales Center, Major League Soccer

“At its core, sales is built on rapport, trust and relationship building skills.  Online tools certainly assist a salesperson in penetrating a prospect’s attention and in some cases accelerate the communication process. But, I find it hard to believe they will ever completely replace the overall impact of creating a connection with someone by hearing their smile come through on the phone or the feeling of warmth that a firm in-person handshake can create.” Bryant Pfeiffer, Vice President, Club Services, Major League Soccer

What do you think? Comment or click the Tweet button (#phonesales) and let us know: @BHillMLS @clarkbeacom @bpfeiff @kats_kris


 

Cover photo courtesy of Michael Varhol.

“Please stop complaining about how busy you are”

“Please stop complaining about how busy you are”
by Kirk Wakefield – October 2013

I’m guilty. What about you?

When I read that headline posted by my friend J.W. Cannon, I realized one thing: When people contact me they don’t care how busy I am. They want to know I care. About them. About whatever it is that motivated them to contact me.

What happens if someone always reminds you how busy they are? After a while, you get the picture and stop contacting them. That’s not the image I want others to associate with me. I’d much rather be known as an effective time manager.

What do we need to do?

#1 Stop trying to signal importance.

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Joan C. Williams
 

“How do the elite signal to each other how important they are? “I am slammed” is a socially acceptable way of saying “I am important.” Fifty years ago, Americans signaled class by displaying their leisure: think banker’s hours (9 to 3). Today, the elite display their extreme schedules.” ~Joan Williams[/dropshadowbox]

Some of the busiest people I know are never too busy to respond. They are important but don’t act like it. These are CEOs, CROs, COOs, and SVPs of some of the best sports franchises in North America. What is their secret?

First, they care enough to respond. 

Second, they understand people just want a response. It can be yes, no, or wait. A non-response just means another email or call. More time.

Before the era of email we were taught to handle a piece of paper once. Same principle applies: Act on it. Delegate it. File it. Trash it.

#2 Realign priorities. Really.

The bottom line: We do what is important to us. No one forces me to have a busy schedule. I must face the reality: It’s my choice.

J.W. Cannon
J.W. Cannon

As J.W. shared with me, “Busy people need to learn to prioritize tasks better, otherwise they will get bogged down in minutia. Focus on what’s most important first and foremost, and note those things that can wait.”

Sometimes even your profile pic tells others something about what’s important in life.

#3 Just say “no.”

Many people think “no” is an unacceptable answer to give. They avoid answering. The exact opposite is the truth.

As Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.

We respect people who can tell us no. A solid no allows us to move on to next. Non-response wastes the time of both parties.

As J.W. continues, “Learn to say ‘no.’ There’s no harm in letting people know you don’t have the capacity to handle something. There’s still only 24 hours in a day; trying to stretch that just leads to unproductive busy work.”

#4 Get smart.

Get-smart

  1. Take a time management course. Read the “One Minute Manager.” Too busy? Listen while driving or exercising. Click here and buy, like I just did.
  2. From Tony Schwartz: Begin workdays by focusing for 90 uninterrupted minutes on the one task you decide the night before is the most important. Turn off email. Close all windows on the computer. Let the phone go to voicemail. After 90 minutes, take a break.
  3. Cut useless meetings, especially if you’re in charge. If the meeting doesn’t include interchange, energize, or lead to new opportunities, cut it.

What do you think?

Aldo Kafie
Aldo Kafie

Aldo Kafie, Group Director at Octagon Sports, nails it: “If you can’t prioritize and delegate then you’ll always be ‘busy’.” 

So, there, I hope this helps solve everyone’s problems with busy schedules. Let me know if you have other ideas or comments. Hopefully I won’t be too slammed this week to respond! Click the Tweet button below: @kirkwakefield #toobusy

 


Cover photo courtesy of Peter Schmutz.

 

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