3 Questions You Must Answer if You Want to Work in Sponsorships

3 Questions You Must Answer if You Want to Work in Sponsorships
by Matt Brand – June 2014

Whether you want to work in the Wide World of Sports Sponsorships, or really any competitive field of business, you’re going to face someone like me in the interview process. I always ask these three questions in the interview:

  1. What are you not good at?
  2. How do you plan your daily/weekly schedule?
  3. How do you penetrate companies you are going after?

What do people like me on the other side of the desk really want to know from questions like these?

What are you not good at doing?

I usually start off interviews with this question or make it my second or third question. I learned of it while reading an industry magazine years back and it always has stuck in my interview repertoire. It usually catches people off guard and throws them off course.

All of us go into an interview well prepped on the basic questions that we are going to get asked. But, typically, we don’t plan on telling the interviewer what we struggle with. Now, I have seen this answered many ways. What I’m not really looking for is the typical:

  1. “I don’t take no for an answer,” or
  2. ” I work long hours and need to do a better job with work life balance.”

I’m looking for someone who is genuine and authentic; somebody who has humility and empathy. Being part of an incredible team at work that gets along famously can accomplish extraordinary results.

How do you plan your schedule?

Because I have always led sales organizations, this is a key question I always ask experienced candidates. I pretty much know in the first few minutes of the response whether this person is a high caliber player or just a run of the mill salesperson.

I know this is not going to be a good hire if I hear something like:

  1. ” Well, I come into the office on Monday and start making telephone calls for appointments that week and I come back into the office on Friday to do my paperwork.”
  2. ” I typically send emails asking for appointments and wait to hear back and then set my schedule based on responses.”

I am looking for the person who is setting appointments every day! These high caliber sales people are active and taking and making connections all day, every day. They are typically booked two weeks in advance and are always prospecting and cultivating. Because prospects and customers cancel all the time these high end sales people are plugging in these cancellations with new opportunities and follow ups. You’ll recognize these people because their phone is always ringing and their follow up paperwork and processing is never ending. They don’t care because they are printing money!!!

How do you penetrate companies you are after?

This question shows me how well potential candidates understand how corporations work. I often hear a response like this, “Well, I research the company online and find out what they do. I then find the key contact in marketing and try to get an appointment.” I usually follow this up by asking the candidate, “What if the marketing person won’t see you or won’t respond?” If I get, “Then I usually will call back or move on to the next target,” I know that this is probably not going to be the hire that gets my team to the next level.

I wish I had a better sounding name but I am looking for a rat. A rat finds the hole and gets in. Because corporations are large and each department has different goals, the best sales people know how to network ALL departments in order to gain entry. For instance, if a sponsorship person is looking to sell a major apparel manufacture in Dallas and can’t get any traction with the marketing department, perhaps they should focus on finding out who is responsible for HR (Human Relations) and try to sell them an employee outing or special event. Perhaps they should approach the CFO’s Executive Assistant and ask her when she is scheduling the next finance meeting for out of town employees and ask if it could be at the stadium with tickets and food and beverage (much more fun than that dim conference room at the Holiday Inn). The salesperson could approach the VP of Sales with an opportunity to meet the coach or GM in an upcoming meeting. The sales person can network their family, friends, or people they go to church with and find someone who works for that company that can give them the inner workings and key decision makers. 

The best salespeople instinctively know how to work every department within a corporation looking for a hole that will gain them access.

Close

If you can successfully answer these three questions to show that you are genuine & authentic, are constantly planning and making appointments, and can find ways to dig into even the most impenetrable companies, then you can close the interview with a career in sponsorship sales.


Cover photo courtesy of ED.

 

10 Things Newbies Need to Know About the Sports CRM World

10 Things Newbies Need to Know About the Sports CRM World
by Chris Zeppenfeld – June 2014

I get this call/voicemail at least once a week from other sports teams…it goes something like this:

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“Hey Zep! We’re looking for someone to manage our new CRM program. Do you know anyone who would be good for this CRM opening for my team?”[/dropshadowbox]

I’ve had this conversation hundreds of times, so I thought it would help to summarize those talks in one spot:

1.  The job market for CRM is growing rapidly.     If you’re an aspiring CRM wanna-be for a team, that’s terrific news.

    • Over ¾ of the NBA teams have CRM currently in place.
    • By the end of the 2014 calendar year, I expect 90% of the teams in the league will have implemented a CRM system.
    • Almost all of these teams have at least one person dedicated to CRM but many of them have hired or are looking for a coordinator underneath them.
    • Over half of the teams in the 4 major sports have CRM right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if every team in the “Big 4” has a CRM within the next 2-3 years.  It’s a matter of when, not if at this point.

2. CRM Departments are starting to become their own recognized departments.    Over the last 2 years, we’ve seen teams start to branch CRM/Analytics/Business Intelligence into their own departments separate from Ticket Sales, Sponsorship, or Marketing. What do these departments look like?

    • Many  have a Director (3+ years of experience with a team) overseeing the department,
    • One or two analytics personnel (3-5 years of experience), and
    • One or two CRM Coordinators (entry-level).

If you’re coming out of college in the next 12 months, the entry-level CRM Coordinator job is starting to become a regular posting on the job boards (check TeamWork Online regularly!).

3. There’s not a large pool of experienced “Sports CRM” people.    The job is relatively new to sports in general.   When I started with Charlotte in 2009, I was one of the first 10 people to be fully dedicated to CRM in all of sports. That means in sports most have only been in CRM roles for 1-2 years.   Therefore, hires often come from outside the sports industry.

4. Teams want to get smarter on how they make business decisions.  [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]brett kahnkeCRM has become a terrific gateway into sports analytics. It is the core function of most business analytics departments. And because its greatest strength is its ability to consolidate information, it naturally becomes the gateway to learning related business skills, such as database management & integration, business intelligence software, email marketing, consumer profiling and customer segmentation. ~Brett Kahnke, VP of Analytics & Technology @MNTimberwolves [/dropshadowbox]As recent as 5-6 years ago, sports teams were light years behind regular business when it came to database and analytics tactics.   The teams’ thirst for getting smarter has evolved quite rapidly in the last few seasons.    The amount of new technologies has increased tenfold.   I dedicate at least one day a week to researching new technologies, programs, or improvements I can make to my CRM just to keep up with everyone else!

5. Most teams with CRM have (by now) integrated all revenue generating departments into their CRM.    Three years ago, most teams with CRM only had one department at most in their CRM (usually Ticket Sales or Sponsorship).   At the recent NBA Analytics Summit, a quick show of hands revealed that most teams have Ticket Sales, Email Marketing, and Sponsorship corralled in the CRM world.   Being in charge of the program that controls the world of the three biggest sources of revenue makes the CRM people more valuable to the organization….and further exposes the CRM personnel to a wider range of areas of the team’s business.

6If a team is hiring for their #1 CRM position (head of department), they will look for experience.    Usually a team just getting CRM will also look to hire their very first person in CRM around the same time or after implementation has finished. Personally, I think this is backwards…you should hire the CRM expert first, then go buy the CRM, but I digress.

What kind of experience is needed? This person must have a solid foundation of the technical aspects of a CRM database. They should:

    • be comfortable moving large data table sets, customizing forms, entities, fields, etc.,
    • have experience creating user interfaces, and (most importantly)
    • have experience training people on software.

I can’t stress enough the need for CRM Directors to be skilled “teachers” as user adoption is the #1 reason CRM implementations fail. It won’t be the technology that causes it to fail.  I’d put more emphasis on the candidate who has experience teaching people how to use a software and working with high-level management on analytical reports than the world’s most knowledgeable CRM person.

7. If a team already has a #1 CRM person, the skillset for their #2 and #3 CRM people is more about potential to grow than past CRM experience. The 2nd and 3rd in-command CRM people should be groomed to eventually take over the #1 role within 2-3 years either for the team (when the #1 perhaps moves on) or for another team who is looking for a #1. We’ve hired two coordinators in my time here in Charlotte, and both times, I was much more interested in their potential than their actual database knowledge. And so should you.

8. The entry-level CRM job is like an apprenticeship. I’ve often said that being my CRM Coordinator is like being in an apprenticeship.   I’ll teach them all I can about CRM for 2-3 years; then they should know enough to be as successful as they want to be in this field for their careers.

As a newbie, it’s OK if you don’t know Microsoft CRM or Salesforce very well. My concern is that when I show you how to do (insert task here) in CRM that you can pick it up quickly, learn it, and remember how to do it in the future.   Both of my coordinators have been excellent hires, yet neither one of them had more than a semester or two of database internship experience.

Here’s what I look for in order of importance:

  1. Can you quickly pick up what I teach you?
  2. Do you have the maturity to eventually run a department in a few years?
  3. Are you an extremely organized person?  Are you nearly obsessive with having things in a neat, organized fashion?
  4. Are you self-motivated? Do you want to be in front of a computer for up to 12 hours a day?  Do you see CRM as a career?
  5. Do you have at least some basic idea of how databases work? Have you worked with contacts, opportunities, accounts, etc.?  If not, have you ever done any kind of importing leads into a database?

9. Not everyone has to do ticket sales to get into sports; there’s a spot for the analytical yet creative type out there. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I consider myself to be a creative person?
  • Am I a person who tends to make data driven analytical decisions in my life choices?
  • Am I the type of person to get annoyed when some messes up my alphabetized DVD collection?

If you answered yes to all three of these questions, the ticket-sales-make-100-calls-a-day path is probably not for you. A lot of college students choose the ticket sales path simply because it’s the most prevalent way to “get your foot in the door.” Just because it’s the most common way, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. Creative, outside the box, analytical personalities typically do not make great sales reps. They do, however, make great CRM Coordinators.

10. There are plenty of Sport Management majors, but not a lot of people who “majored” in running CRM. There’s a ton of sport management programs around the country, but an overwhelming majority of these focus on marketing and selling. They churn lots of good candidates for future marketing and ticket sales positions for sports teams.  These candidates have experience being in a CRM environment (namely making calls within the CRM), but that’s honestly not all that helpful. While I’d still value personal traits over experience, I admit one reason why I value candidates from Baylor University is I know these students have direct experience assigning leads to reps through CRM, making customizations in the CRM, and analyzing data. So, if you’re still undecided, check out the S3 program here. Or, start getting CRM experience at your university or the university’s contacts.

Sales Management: Why Process Trumps Talent

Sales Management: Why Process Trumps Talent
by Flavil Hampsten – June 2014

Which matters more: Process or Talent? That’s an easy one.  Process always trumps talent.

Before you get upset and start defending how talented your staff is and that you couldn’t generate the numbers that you do without them, imagine how much more productive they would be if you gave them leads that close at four times the normal rate?  Or if you have sales events for them that routinely lead to $100,000 days?

I’m not going to completely define what process should be in place, but I will say that as a sales manager, process always trumps talent. Here is why.

#1 Talented Individuals Are Simply Not Enough

Sales managers need to hit a departmental goal.  There needs to be method to maximize revenue from each individual on the team.  Therefore, a process should be devised to assist everyone in order for the department to achieve goal.

I’ve never spoken to a sales manager who claims to have all A+ sales talent on staff.  Most have a mix of A+, A, B, and C sellers.  However, most have an A+ revenue budget to achieve.  Having a great process can bump the level of each seller and give the department a better chance to achieve goal.

#2 Talent Comes and Goes, Process Stays Forever

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Brent StehlikHaving the right process in place has been an important element to the success of the teams I have managed throughout my career. The hiring process, sales process, lead-gen process….even convincing sales people to fall in love with the process of becoming great. They might not believe it right now, and I don’t think I did when I started my first job in sports, but process and persistence almost always trumps talent. ~Brent Stehlik, EVP/CRO Cleveland Browns[/dropshadowbox]With the ambitious nature of today’s sales executives, the average life of a sales executive is approximately two years.  With no guarantee to keep top talent, the only method to ensure that you keep results is to have a process that maximizes each opportunity, regardless of which salesperson in assigned to it.

Why only two years? Generally speaking, the A+ sellers are the ones who can leave first, simply because other teams recruit them away with money and titles.  Most times, sales managers hands are bound with budgets and departmental structure making it difficult to match the offer and the salesperson leaves.  However, the departmental goal does not change.  If a superior process is in place, the current salespeople will continue to deliver at a high rate, a new top salesperson will emerge, and the new salesperson will generate top numbers quicker.

#3 Talent Pool is More Like a Talent Puddle

Hard fact, but with the amount of positions to fill, the low pay, and extremely long hours in sports, it’s nearly impossible to hire all A+ sales talent.  Therefore, by default, to keep your positions full you must hire a mix of talent levels in order to achieve sales results.  A process is the only way to make this happen.

Even if you have one of the best recruiting and inside sales programs in sports there will be times where positions are empty or when talent is lagging.  As a sales manager, you owe it to your company and your career to protect yourself from these times.  The most foolproof way to do this is to engineer and implement a superior process that maximizes revenue regardless.

With work and deliberate practice talent can be created.  However, superior talent cannot be created without hard work and deliberate practice while in a superior process.  More importantly to a sales manager, you cannot have a successful sales department without a process to make everyone better.  The talented individuals are simply not enough; you need to create and train talent to optimize performance.


Want more on good processes? Read Flavil’s, No More Cold Calls

Cover photo courtesy of Rosemary Demirkok

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