Top 5 Things We Learned About Compensation, Salespeople and Their Managers

Top 5 Things We Learned About Compensation, Salespeople and Their Managers
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2014

The State of the Sports Sales Industry Survey

With your help responding to the S3 Sales Report survey in December (N = 328) and the help of the NBA & Murray Cohn in surveying inside sales and account reps in the NBA and WNBA (N = 391), we gained a better understanding of the relationship between salespeople, their managers, and their performance. Here are the top 5 things we learned, along with average salaries at various ticket sales positions.

#1 Show us a team with a bad ethical culture and we’ll show you some unhappy salespeople.

In the sales culture, and maybe just culture in general, so much is about “show me the money.” But, guess what? The numbers don’t lie when it comes to job satisfaction. The ethical climate has at least twice as much influence on a salesperson’s job satisfaction compared to how much the sales rep earns on an annual basis. There is a correlation between compensation and job satisfaction; it’s just that money doesn’t tell us as much as knowing the culture of the sales organization.

#2 Sales professionals in sports are pretty smart.

If obtaining a bachelors or masters degree is any indicator of intellectual capabilities, then it looks like we’re a pretty smart bunch. In the U.S., only 36.6% have college degrees and another 11.6% have masters. What about salespeople in sports?

Over 81% of the S3 Report respondents, and more than 86% of NBA/WNBA salespeople, have college degrees. Among S3 Report respondents, another 15% have graduate degrees, along with 8% of NBA salespeople with advanced degrees. Together, we can say that about 95% of the sales force in sports are staying in school to graduate before making the jump to the pros.

#3  Winning isn’t everything. In fact, maybe not anything.

When it comes to what really determines who makes the most money, it’s not whether or not you’re selling the hot team. It’s not even market size. In fact, looking at the NBA data across all teams, the team’s won/loss record and the size of the team’s market together determine less than 20% (i.e., 19.6%) of salespeople’s total compensation. That means 80% of a rep’s compensation is determined by the organization and the individual.

  • The amount of commission one can make is influenced a bit more by market size & won/loss record (26.3%). But, that still means about 3/4ths of commissions earned is up to the team and reps.
  • Interesting fact: Because W/L record is correlated with market size, the team’s record has very little effect on compensation once we account for market size.

#4 The only selling time that correlates with greater commissions is face-to-face.

We measured what proportion of selling time NBA  reps spent on the phone (65%), email (21.5%), chat/text (3%), social media (1.4%), and face-to-face (8.6%). The only activity that significantly increases commissions is face-to-face. Of course, we can argue that the other activities lead to appointments; but, the point is that personal contact is king.

#5 Once established, compensation in sports sales is competitive.

The current practice of hiring into inside sales to smile & dial as a proving ground may be shifting as more teams move toward more effective and efficient selling with sales analytics and CRM-based messaging and marketing strategies.  But, in the mean time, we can see teams are able to attract able bodied candidates with compensation levels markedly below starting salaries of sales & marketing graduates working in other industries ($51,900). That said, once promoted to an AE position, prospects begin looking up.

The data below is based on data from salespeople and managers primarily representing MLB, NHL & NFL teams, supplemented by the data from entry-level sales reps of 25 NBA teams. We did not receive enough information from collegiate sports sales reps to represent that growing market of potential sales jobs.

 

Average Compensation for Sales Positions in Professional Sports
Average Compensation for Sales Positions in Professional Sports (December 2013)

 

Wait ’til next year!

Thanks again to Murray Cohn and the NBA in collaborating on this study. We also thank our friends across the leagues who independently responded to our first annual state of the sales industry survey. In our next round (December 2014), we would like to gain more involvement at the league level and collegiate level so that we could reliably represent average salaries across each league and level, as well as dig deeper into what motivates and accelerates salespeople’s performance.

 


Cover photo courtesy of  Barry Yanowitz.

 

Got a Question? A New Idea? Ask the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Forum!

Got a Question? A New Idea? Ask the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Forum!
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2014

Post questions to the community

This month we introduce the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) forum where you can post questions to others in the community. We encourage you to ask others what works for them in the area of ticket sales, sponsorship sales & activation, sponsorship metrics, sales analytics, CRM, social media, digital media, or any other category in the area of sports business.

 [dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#F7D358″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Click here to visit the S3 Forum.[/dropshadowbox]

Offer ideas & feedback

One of the options in the forum is to select “Feedback” as the category. Use that category in the forum to post ideas for new articles, ask for help, or offer insights/comments on how we can improve our service to the sports sponsorship & sales industry. We’ll check regularly and follow-up with each idea or suggestion.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#F7D358″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ] Click here to connect with members in the S3 Community.[/dropshadowbox]

Set your profile to public if you want to make friends

profileYou may not need another social network, but feel free to connect here to build friendships among like-minded, goal-oriented people committed to the sports sales industry.

So that others in the community can find you, be sure to set your profile to “public.” Members may edit profiles by clicking on the button in the upper right corner  where it says, “Howdy, Your Name.”

I want to join the community. What do I do?

Hey, I don’t see anyone saying, “Howdy” to me.

To join, just click on the social media button in the upper right corner! Or click here.

 

3 Key Insights for Women in the Business of Sports

3 Key Insights for Women in the Business of Sports
by Hannah Bouziden – May 2014

Successful Leaders in the Wide World of Sports Business

Women increasingly move up the corporate ladder across America, but have faced a greater challenge in the once male-dominant industry of professional sports. In a world where people like Donald Sterling have been operating, what is it like for females as they progress to the highest executive levels in the business of sports?

On April 14th, 2014, Baylor University’s Sports Sponsorship & Sales Club welcomed three leading women in the world of professional sports to speak about the challenges they have overcome in their careers. The panel included, Paige Farragut (Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Service with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club), Tami Walker (Manager, U.S. Fuels Brand Management for Phillips 66, 76, and Conoco), and Amy Pratt (Vice President of Event & Tours with Legends/Dallas Cowboys). During the discussion, the women touched on three main topics they believed to have an effect on women in the business of sports and in corporate America. They shared their insights on how to deal with maternity leave, sexual harassment, and the glass ceiling.

1. Maternity Leave

Paige Farragut
Paige Farragut

Having the ability to balance a family life and working in the fast pace world of sports is a concern for many women. Farragut and Walker were able to handle the pressure and become successful women in their industry while raising children.

Walker’s advice is to make sure you build up enough good will prior to maternity, so that others recognize your value to the team and want to make sure the entire process flows smoothly for your return. She also advises to do what is right for your family and just roll with it!

Farragut decided to wait until she was in management to start a family. According to Farragut, “In sales, time away matters.”  Therefore, her advice is to make sure you are flexible and have the ability to put in the hours, even if that means having to manage work at night.

2. Sexual Harassment

Walker’s advice on how to handle sexual harassment in the workplace: First, define what harassment meant to you. Then, make sure you set boundaries and establish awareness among others in a gracious, but firm manner. Both Pratt and Walker stated that you should always be cautious of what you say and how you say it.  “You have no idea what the experiences of other people are,” stated Walker.

Each of the panelists urged young women to find mentors within the organization, others in whom they confide and seek counsel if/when such situations do arise. Different situations and people may require different approaches.

3. The Glass Ceiling

Amy Pratt
Amy Pratt

Although the panelists are aware of potential glass ceilings, each operates under the assumption that it doesn’t apply to them.

Walker’s advice for young women revolved around the idea of never allowing yourself to become your own worse enemy. Never doubt yourself, but instead ask, “why not me?”

Farragut’s advice was just simply proving yourself, because it will eventually pay off. If you are the very best in every position that you have, then you will not be overlooked. An issue Farragut sees among young women in the business of sports today is that she has never had a woman tell her that she would like to be in management some day.

All three of the women agreed that there are opportunities for women, they just have to have the desire to seek them. Pratt stated, “There are tons of opportunities for women to open new doors . . . to make themselves of value.”

Closing Advice

Tami Walker
Tami Walker

Women increasingly moving into senior positions in corporate America. These three women are an encouragement to all young people, especially young women who aspire to make their own success story in the world of sports. Walker left a great piece of closing advice for these young professionals, “If you have a drive as a woman to excel . . . then the opportunities are there, there is nothing that can hold you back.”

The Six D’s of Destruction: How to Recognize and Avoid Sales Burnout

The Six D’s of Destruction: How to Recognize and Avoid Sales Burnout
by Kris Katseanes – May 2014

What happened to all the excitement?

We all seek to hire highly competent, highly energized, hard-working individuals who invest everything they have in the effort of growing a career in sports.  We strive to find individuals who have excelled in life, and are eager to translate that pattern of success to the sales floor for our team.

Yet, some of these same individuals have come to me after a few months on the job and share something like this, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve always succeeded in everything I’ve done, but this is really difficult and I don’t know if it’s for me.”  What changed with this person over just a few months? What happened to the person who was so confident (borderline arrogant), excited beyond measure, determined, and capable/willing to take on the world?

Recognizing destructive emotional patterns

Assuming that we set a proper expectation and are managing well, the easy answer then becomes that they are burned out by the long hours, the monotony of the calling and solicitation exercises, or the feeling of being enamored with ‘working in sports’ has faded.  I believe that there is definitely a little of each of those sentiments sprinkled in throughout.  But, I also believe that a negative emotional pattern in our human nature is most often the culprit.  This negative emotional pattern was something I came across recently.  An ecclesiastical leader by the name of Kevin Pearson coined it the “Destructive D’s.”  His application was a bit different, but the core principles apply to what we do every day.

1. Doubt. Doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in self and/or ability. Doubt starts to creep in.  Anyone who has been on a sports sales floor is going to experience this.  There is too much rejection involved in what we do for it not to ever be a factor.  The key is recognizing that it grows and leads to…

2. Discouragement.  Discouragement arises from missing expectations or goals.  The goals and numbers we ask for are always on the stretched side as that’s the world we live in.  The red flag we need to watch for is if missing goals or numbers causes discouragement, resulting in the sales representative:

  •  lowering expectations,
  • decreasing effort, or
  • displaying a weakening desire to stay in the job/industry.

Someone who becomes discouraged at a high level, then experiences….

3. Distraction. The sales rep that gets to this point begins to lose focus on two things:

  • what s/he needs to be effective &
  • the ultimate goal of succeeding in the sports industry.

They also lose focus of why we want to be excellent, succeed, and move up the management ladder: The opportunity to influence this industry and to help others in their careers.

One important thing to note is that both discouragement and distraction can become habits.  We should be looking for these traits in the hiring process as much as possible, and also be very mindful of those tendencies early on in a sales representative’s efforts. Whether habitual or circumstantial, distracted sales reps then begin losing their…

4. Diligence. The distracted sales representative gravitates toward time wasting activities and excuses to avoid the extra effort needed to become successful.   The biggest concern is if  this spreads or affects the productivity and attitudes of other reps.  This is where a rep starts to bring others on your team down with them. Obviously, not doing one’s job results in….

5. Disappointment. The sales rep without diligence will miss goals and expectations, ultimately leading to disappointing performance and reviews. While not surprising to supervisors, the end result for reps at this stage if often…

6. Disbelief. The emotional disappointment grows to the level that they actually start believing that they can’t do the job, or that it’s too hard and too demanding.  The sales rep that only months before had the world by the horns, now has internalized the emotions to the point they can no longer do what is asked.

Solution: Catch it early

The key as managers is to understand that the first “Destructive D” will happen to everyone.

Coaching, encouraging, and training to ensure we curb the second and third from setting in is absolutely critical.  Once it reaches the fourth level of losing diligence it is very difficult to restore what you once had. A new setting or a new role may help, but chances are the behavioral pattern is too far down the road and ingrained in the mindset/routine of that sales representative. 

In thinking about all of the successful sales industry leaders I know well, they all have in common the ability to recognize and squash “Destructive D” number one before it progresses further.   We should work as managers to recognize doubt and discouragement and find ways to foster courage and confidence among newer sales representatives. Part of that training can simply be to show reps this article (or explain the 6 D’s to them) and give them the freedom to ask for help when they believe they may be experiencing any destructive symptoms.

One of the best cures is really preventative: We must recognize the early symptoms to mitigate turnover and increase team chemistry and production.


 

Cover photo courtesy of Molair

 

 

Making Connections: Contact Puts the Ball in Play

Making Connections: Contact Puts the Ball in Play
by Carson Heady – May 2014

How to sell: Put the ball in play

Fundamental to any activity or sport is to put the ball in play. This necessitates action on the part of the participant(s) and begins with how and when we make contact.

On the field, it is about formulating strategy, addressing the ball, following through and studying results to adjust for future shots. Business and sales are no different; prospecting and approaching connections to build relationships must be handled with the same finesse.

As with all facets of sales, the quality of each leg of the process determines quantities of successes. Fashioning the optimum game plan for narrowing our search for prospects, garnering attention in the proper way, reaching out with maximum effectiveness and showing why you or your product is supremely relevant inches you closer to your goal line. Like charging down the field, each possession’s objective is to manage plays effectively enough to get as close to that end zone as possible. We will not reach it every time, but the more masterfully we operate each play and possession, the better our chances.

Three things you must do to win

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Bart Elfrink“Networking is what landed my most prominent directing roles. As a filmmaker, networking is of utmost importance and it is truly all about who you know when it comes to securing interviews. Diversifying the groups I was networking with rather than just one core group made all the difference; taking initiative, starting conversations – you never know where they will lead and deals are made over conversation, coffee and meals.” Bart Elfrink, Director & Cinematographer[/dropshadowbox]From looking to land a job to attempting to market a product or service, it is vital to:

  1. make authentic connections,
  2. showcase unique attributes, and
  3. improve their lives.

Ultimately, you want to prove that your target audience would be better off with what you have than what they have now or have to choose from.

Examine your playing field:

  1. What experience or attributes are being sought in the arena you wish to conquer?
  2. What do you or does your product offer that ensures you are uniquely qualified to fill a gap?

These are the strengths you highlight as you grab attention and carry on throughout the selling process. Learning your audience’s needs through analysis and questions is step one; showcasing how you fill the gap best is the rest. Realize that you and your product are up against considerable odds; this does not rule out victory, but means you must work smart and understand this contact sport.

How to connect

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]laura.wiley“If you don’t put yourself out there, you will never know your fullest potential. Network and connect with everyone (and I do mean everyone) you know as will often be surprised to find what opportunities lie within the those you are closest too as well as farthest away. Connect and engage, talk and share, give and get – it is how trusting and long-term business relationships and strategic partnerships grow.” Laura Wiley, Principal/CMO of Marketing Lift[/dropshadowbox]Connecting today has a different feel with the prominence of social media and ability to quickly pinpoint your target decision maker; with a simple search we can locate VP’s and CEO’s and attempt to make contact. That said, anyone can make contact, so you must ensure your contact counts. Utilization of sites like LinkedIn grant you access to all the movers and shakers across every industry:

  1. Build your network strategically by casting a wide enough net of individuals who could serve as decision makers or point you in the right direction.
  2. Aim high, specifically in small-to-mid-sized businesses where a CEO will be more apt to accept your overtures.
  3. Do it with distinctive, classy flair. Don’t use the generic LinkedIn request.
  4. Never pin all your hopes on just one person for a job or sales decision. Formulate multiple plays across all pertinent companies and industries so you are prepared for whatever obstacles you encounter.

How to approach

Approach requires just as much thought. Using your own conversational style, the approach might go something like this: “Mr./Mrs. X – It is my hope this note finds you well. With your expertise in _____ and our mutual interests, I believe you would be an excellent person with whom to share ideas and learn from. I would be honored to be part of your network.”

Whether by LinkedIn or email, supplanting the generic, average introduction will get your note noticed where others land in the penalty box of the virtual trash can. From there, timely follow up within a matter of days thanking them for the connection and requesting advice on the industry to gain access to them will have far more success than pushing a product or asking for a job up front.

Casting a wide net also means:

  1. researching local networking events,
  2. utilizing your existing network to meet new prospects (i.e, referrals), and
  3. leaving no stone unturned as you put your best quality foot forward in meeting and greeting new contacts with whom to form mutually beneficial relationships.

Like any part of the game, prospecting and connecting determine how far the ball carries, and are integral in your quest to circle the bases.


Cover photo courtesy of Tate Nations.

 

Selling Collegiate Sports: Happy Customers = Sales

Selling Collegiate Sports: Happy Customers = Sales
by Bryce Killingsworth – May 2014

Collegiate ticket sales departments continue to expand. Some hired into these new sales positions have training in professional selling, while others may have worked their ways through college internships into the first open position that suits their aptitudes and attitudes. So, whether we are trained to sell or are just thrown into the fire, it’s always good to examine the fundamentals of adaptive selling–particularly in the collegiate setting. It all starts with creating connections.

Creating connections (prospecting)

sales funnelConsistently creating connections prevents sales slumps. Prospecting fills the funnel to prepare for the future.

In college sports, this aspect seems to be overlooked or at minimum on the bottom of the priority list. Hopefully you have a priority list.

Investing time and energy generating prospects reap the benefits of new business as you build relationships. A few primary ways we prospect at Oklahoma State include: Warm calls (not really cold calls with the data we have), asking for referrals, and networking at our athletic events.

 Analyzing needs (understanding customers)

Understanding customer behavior and preferences will improve customer satisfaction which in turn will increase retention rates. To sell, up-sell and cross-sell to multiple sports, use data to:

  1. identify when a customer places an order,
  2. how they pay,
  3. where they like to sit,
  4. where they are traveling from (residence), and
  5. other data collected that influences ticket purchases.

Consistent–systematic–contact helps inform them of packages and offers and to receive valuable feedback.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Mike Wendling“The more information we have about our consumers the more ‘Surprise and Delight’ opportunities we can orchestrate. These unique touch points show our fans that we care more about them than their check book.” – Mike Wendling, Director of Ticketing Analytics, @WendlingMike[/dropshadowbox]A simple tool our Director of Analytics utilizes to help understand customer needs is by asking a couple of questions when the customer creates an online account with us. For example: Which sports are you interested in? Are you interested in Suite, Club, or Stadium seating? Being creative is imperative at a university as you may be operating with limited funds.

 Addressing customer needs (proposing solutions)

How you address needs can make or break a sale. Remember, you are a problem-solver, there to help make their lives better.

Briefly describe one or more solutions of product, service, or combination of both to offer the customer. Proposing an unknown or unsought, but valuable, solution creates loyal followers. Examples include:

  • [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]jess martin“Customer service is not just a skill set; it’s a culture that is contagious when you hire the right type of people. In today’s competitive world, fans desire to do repeat business with organizations that they trust and are comfortable with. Having a great customer service culture in place gives you a definite competitive advantage at earning and keeping their business.” — Jesse Martin, Senior Associate Athletic Director, Oklahoma State University, @JesseMartinOSU[/dropshadowbox]payment plans for a young family,
  • aisle seats for a tall person,
  • top row of the section below the concourse for an elder with knee problems,
  • suite for a company who now realizes the benefits of entertaining clients, and
  • placing customers in a seating section (e.g., West end zone area) to avoid the sun.

Discussing benefits

One of the primary benefits of a season ticket holder is social distinction. Season ticket holders enjoy feeling that sense of a community among fans, but also enjoy recognition as a member of an exclusive group. Creating limited discounts and perks among only the season ticket holder community is vital in order to prove it’s more beneficial to pony up for the entire season.

Utilizing data to identify specific types of benefits to engage season ticket holders may be the deciding factor in closing a sale. It could be exclusive access, memorable experiences, or valuable savings that enhance the value of season tickets. If you have the data to know that Bob buys 4 hot-dogs for his family per game, Bob will most likely appreciate a 30% off concessions discount compared to 10% off apparel at the stadium store.

Overcoming objections

real time sales tracking food & beverage merchandise
Real time sales tracking

In overcoming an objection focus on:

  1. empathizing,
  2. transparency, and
  3. appreciation.

Most customer problems can be readily handled if we actively listening and identify the customers concern. Remaining honest, transparent and open goes a long way.

If you think about it, objections come from customers who want your product. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t waste time explaining. If you’re honest about the best you can do with seating, pricing, etc., more times than not the customer will accept your best option–if they trust you.

To retain customers and gain referrals, show appreciation to customers and even former customers. By responding to the drop in business with nothing but respect and understanding, you create a pleasant experience resulting in valued word-of-mouth. Even without the expected ROI, appreciate them because you’re a professional.

Establishing & maintaining relationships

One of the primary reasons a customer intentionally desires a relationship with you is because you have become a treasured resource.

Maintaining a relationship and becoming a resource begins with consistency and reliability:

  1. Return phone calls,
  2. Follow up on a deadline,
  3. Be available at times the customer needs you,
  4. Ask customers for feedback, and
  5. Picking up the phone.

Asking for feedback with a purpose speaks volumes about your commitment to the service you provide, and how you can better the customer experience.

Pick up the phone. Not just to answer an incoming call. Pick up the phone and call your customers.  You’re a robot to them until you provide some personal connection. And it’s difficult to become loyal to a robot…unless your name is Siri.

 

 

 

 

 

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