Who owns your brand? (Hint: it’s not you)

Who owns your brand? (Hint: it’s not you)
by Don Roy – December 2014

John Stuart, former chairman of Quaker Oats, said “If this business were to be split up, I would be glad to take the brands, trademarks and goodwill and you could have all the bricks and mortar – and I would fare better than you.”

The really valuable asset  any company (or person) owns is the brand. The brand of the team and corporate partners is what  we market, by creating awareness, building associations, achieving preference, and influencing purchase behavior.

It’s Not Yours

John Stuart’s quote is poignant, but unfortunately misguided. Does the marketer own the brand? Sure, a firm has legal rights to its brand name and marks. But, who really owns the brand?

Your brand is owned in the hearts and minds of people in the world around you, namely your customers and product users. Key dimensions of the brand are:

  1. Brand image–a collection of perceptions. Where do those perceptions reside? In the minds of (non)customers.
  2. Brand experience–an interactive consumption engagement. Who is the central figure? The customer, without whom there is no experience.
  3. Brand relationship–without customers there are no relationships and no brand.
  4. Brand identity– how the company wants its brand, logo, marks and visual representations to be perceived by customers.

Companies design brand identities in hopes that customers and other stakeholders will have a strong sense of ownership based on the brand’s image, experience, and relationship.

Nashville Sounds Learn this Branding Lesson

The Nashville Sounds (AAA) have field a baseball team in thee Music City for nearly 40 years, calling Greer Stadium its home from 1978 to 2014. Next season, the Sounds begin play at First Tennessee Park, a modern facility built on the same grounds upon which Negro League and minor league baseball was played as far back as the late 1800s. In addition, 2015 will mark the beginning of a new affiliation agreement with the Oakland A’s.

The timing for updating the Nashville Sounds brand seemed ideal given the transition to a new stadium and new major league affiliation. So, team management unveiled an updated logo in October. The Sounds hired Brandiose, a San Diego-based branding agency. Eleven months of work went into the new logo.

Public reaction to the new logo has not been very positive. Why abandon red, a color used by the Sounds throughout its existence? Why use orange, a color better known and associated with the University of Tennessee? Why hire an out-of-state agency when Nashville has abundant creative talent among numerous agencies in the city? Is that the best that someone could do after 11 months of work? Why does it bear resemblance to a logo used by one of Nashville’s other professional sports teams (the Nashville Predators have a secondary logo featuring a guitar pick design)? The questions shared an underlying sentiment: Changes to our brand are in conflict with our relationship to the Nashville Sounds.

It’s about Community

old new gap logoThe Nashville Sounds organization is not the first to make missteps with a rebranding effort.For example, in 2010, Gap introduced an updated logo that lasted about one week before the public made their displeasure known. The company listened and brought back the old logo as Gap’s identity.

The backlash faced by the Nashville Sounds, while not nearly as intense, carries the same lesson. Brands matter to people. They form community with others who care.

Perhaps the worst outcome of the Nashville Sounds rebranding would have been if no one voiced opinions for or against the new logo. People complained because they cared, and they care because they feel a connection to the brand.

Brands are owned in the hearts and minds of the people that they touch. Marketers are the stewards of brands, managing the four dimensions (identity, image, experience, and relationship) to maximize their value. The takeaway from the Nashville Sounds rebranding is not that brand changes should be put to a vote — community is different from democracy. Internal decisions can have negative, albeit unintended, effects on brand relationships. Brand owners and brand marketers must appreciate the affinity customers and fans have for a brand carefully manage the process to maintain a positive relationship between the brand and customers.

How brands measure successful sponsor partnerships

How brands measure successful sponsor partnerships
by Kirk Wakefield – December 2014

At the 2014 Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Board Meeting held at McLane Stadium on the campus of Baylor University on November 11-12, Jose Lozano hosted a panel of fellow brand experts from the S3 Board to discuss, “How brands measure successful partnerships.”

Not in the awareness business

“We are not in the awareness business,” said Kelly Roddy, President of Schlotzsky’s,  which is owned by Focus Brands (Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, McAlister’s Deli, and Moe’s Southwest Grill). “We are into meaningful relationships and sponsorships provide this,” added Roddy.

These sentiments were reinforced by Bill Moseley, Director of Marketing Communications, AT&T, and one of the architects of a wide variety of AT&T corporate partnership deals. Mr. Moseley noted that account management of corporate partners may have focused on more static venue elements of an agreement in the past, but that, “Today the emphasis is on adding value to the fan experience through creative strategies. The AT&T brand is an integral part of the game day experience.”

Tami T. Walker, Brand Manager for Phillips 66, shared, “When we can get a father and son on the floor [as part of a brand-fan experience]  we make fans of the brand for life.” The emphasis is on creating memorable experiences that clearly link the brand with the property in the minds of fans that result in driving business.

What do brands care about in a sponsorship deal?

At the end of the day, or at the end of each year and at the end of the contract, brands care about sponsorship return-on-investment. The panel members underscored that the reason behind sponsorships isn’t because someone at the brand loves the team. Rather, the brand cares about what drives traffic and builds their fan loyalty–when fans of the team become fans of the brand.

AT&T, Phillips 66, Schlotzsky’s, and other well-established brands care most about how much fan affinity transfers to the brand. Why? Brands can track the lift they receive among fans of the brand compared to non-fans in the same markets. Using research tools and brand tracking, brands can see if fans of the team behave differently.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Impressions don’t matter.”[/dropshadowbox]Mr. Roddy explained, “When we measure fan engagement we can see the connection with sales increases. We now look for ways to track call to action. We aren’t interested in millions of impressions, but measures of affinity transfer to our brand. Impressions don’t matter.”

How do brands keep score?

When Phillips 66 evaluates sponsorships, senior management  keeps score at the bottom line.Tami Walker emphasized that Phillips 66 uses multivariate analysis on net promoter and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to look at drivers of buying behaviors.  The make-or-break decision for their partnerships is whether or not the property, “can produce creative solutions we can’t get elsewhere,” added Ms. Walker. Brand managers, like Ms. Walker, must focus on managing contracts in an effective manner to prove the relationship with KPIs.

Other tracking measures include social media scraping. Mr. Roddy explained, “It’s important to see if our brand is connected to the partner via fans’ social media. For example, are people posting about Cinnabon and the Texans?” Using sophisticated web crawler software, brands can analyze social media posts to determine if such a linkage increases as a part of a partnership promotion. Brands also use loyalty index tracking to compare loyalty levels of fans versus non-fans of a property.

Mr. Moseley said that AT&T partners understand that the Net Promoter Score is an important KPI, as they want customers to recommend the brand to others. In doing so, the benefit of the partnership is that the brand-fan linkage helps overcome any pain point with the provider who brings life to their devices.

When is added value really added value?

As Ms. Walker emphasized, building loyalty to the brand is more than just distributing loyalty cards or gaining name recognition. Partners seek true loyalty that shields them against competitive inroads. Properties add value through brand-fan experiences that can scale the effects through social media, as fans share the experiences with others.

For example, the 76 fuel brand partners with the Dodgers, who act as true partners to assess results and adjust to meet their partnership goals. In this sense, the property adds value through their transparency, honesty, and willingness to solve problems.

Jose Lozano, who as CEO of The Company, works with a number of national brands engaged in partnerships, encourages properties to bring their own passion into the equation. Try to understand what each brand wants, seeking to understand the brand’s customers and what they really want. Rather than arriving with a prescribed inventory of sponsorship assets, properties should identify the brand’s KPIs and find ways to bring the brand to life among their fans. When the team’s partnership executives understand how the brand measures success, they can begin to add value beyond the standard rate card for sponsorships.

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures
by Kirk Wakefield – December 2014

The meeting for the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Board was held November 11th & 12th in Waco at the new McLane Stadium on the campus of Baylor University.

The only of its kind focused on selling sports, the S3 major is a selective program in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, a highly ranked Christian university. The S3 program continues to grow from its original admissions of 19 highly qualified students in 2004 to soon selecting up to 38 in each year’s incoming class. Students in the major are prepared for careers in (1) professional selling for sports (tickets, corporate partnerships & service) and (2) customer relationship management (CRM) & analytics. Read more here on the Baylor website.

Phillips 66 S3 Banquet

Dr. Darryl Lehnus, Director of the S3 program, hosted the Phillips 66 S3 Banquet attended by over 140 executives, managers, S3 alumni and current S3 students.

Dinn Mann (BU ’87), Executive Vice President and a founder of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), provided the keynote speech, “The Changing Landscape of Digital Media & Ticket Sales.”   Mr. Mann serves on the S3 Executive Council, along with other S3 Executive Council members recognized at the banquet, including:

  • Eric Fernandez (BU ’94), Co-founder & Managing Partner, Sports Desk Media, S3 Executive Council Chair
  • Greg Grissom (BU ’95), Vice President of Corporate Development, Houston Texans, S3 Executive Council Vice-Chair
  • Tami T. Walker (BU ’86), US Brand Management, Phillips 66
  • Jose Lozano (BU ’93), Chief Executive Officer, The Company
  • Derek Blake (BU ’86 )Vice President, Partnership Marketing & Military Programs, LaQuinta Inns & Suites
  • Drew Mitchell (BU S3 ’06), Chief Revenue Officer, Texas Legends
  • Chase Jolesch (BU S3 ’10), Manager of Ticket Sales Center, Baylor University
  • Heidi Weingartner, Chief Human Resources Officer, Dallas Cowboys

Chevrolet Outstanding Board Members

Over 60 executives and managers from over 25 teams, companies, and the NBA and MLBAM offices attended the 2014 board meeting, which included an afternoon of interviews for S3 juniors for summer internships and S3 seniors for career positions.

Special thanks to Murray Cohn, Vice President of Ticket Sales (NBA),  for leading a panel of  Sales All-Stars including Jake Reynolds and Brian Norman, Philadelphia 76ers, Kris Katseanes, FC Dallas, Joe Schiavi, Detroit Pistons, and Lacey Congdon (BU S3 ’14), Texas Rangers. As always, we are grateful to Bill Guertin for mentoring S3 students and kicking of the week along with Jason Howard (Houston Astros) and Tom Parsons (Time Warner Cable Media) as part of the “Faith in the Workplace” panel discussion.

The meetings concluded with the Chevrolet Outstanding S3 Awards given this year to:

  • Outstanding Team Board Member: Greg Grissom, Vice President of Corporate Development, Houston Texans
  • Outstanding Corporate Board Member: Lynda Carrier Metz, Chief Marketing Officer, Restaurant Management Company (Pizza Hut)
  • Outstanding S3 Alum: Bryan Apgar (BU S3 ’07) Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Website Alive
  • Outstanding S3 Report Writer: Anne Rivers, Senior Vice President, Global Director of Brand Strategy at BAV Consulting

The 2014 S3 Board Meeting in Pictures

The Impact of Data Visualization in Sports

The Impact of Data Visualization in Sports
by Katie Morgan – November 2014

Teams constantly research to find new data sources to enhance business. Data is the life blood of the organization. Data provides the ability to make key decisions based on factual information rather than projections based on personal experiences.

Big Data Questions

Some of the biggest questions teams face when finding new data sources include:

  • Now that we have all of this data, where do we store it?
  • When our data is in a usable format, how do we compile the information for our decision makers?

The Texas Rangers currently use a data warehouse to store all of our various data sources including:

  • Historical and Current Ticketing Data
  • Demographic Information
  • CRM Data
  • Team Performance Data (present and historical)
  • Weather Information (present and historical)
  • Secondary Market Data

Why do you need a data warehouse?

Justin Foote
Justin Foote

Justin Foote, Interactive Database Coordinator with the Texas Rangers, highlights benefits of using a data warehouse to store data.

“The use of a data warehouse has given us the ability to store and report on data, both past and present. Access to fan’s previous purchasing habits is crucial in determining future trends amongst our fans. Without the warehouse, the reports and visualizations we are using would have taken days to create, as opposed to  a couple of hours.”

Data provides you the information to help with various initiatives such as:

  1. vetting the best leads to distribute to sales representatives,
  2. provide real time visualizations,
  3. offer information on purchasing trends,
  4. provide the ability to do comparative analysis year over year, and various other projects.

Visualization with Tableau

The Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates all chose to use a data visualization tool, Tableau, to provide dashboards on various initiatives and projects.

Jason Witzberger
Jason Witzberger

At the Pirates

Jason Witzberger, Manager of Business Analytics with the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been a Tableau user for just under a year. He states:

“The Pittsburgh Pirates use Tableau to visualize sales and marketing trends in real-time.  With Tableau, we have access to the most up-to-date information represented in a dynamic visual format, all available from any location.  Tableau makes the data easy to understand so that we can make smarter and more proactive decisions.”

Jason points out several key benefits to using a data visualization tool:

  • Access to the most up-to-date information. Whether you are making a key decision with your data, or trying to show a new trend, having the most up to date information is of utmost importance. The Texas Rangers update data every fifteen minutes in order to provide the most accurate information to the individuals using the data resources.
  • The data is easy to understand. When providing data to decision makers and others working on a specific initiative, you always want to provide easy-to-understand information. A simplified visualization provides imperative information in an readily comprehended format. Remember the audience and cater visualizations to their needs.
Chris Calo
Chris Calo

At the Reds

Visualization tools, and in this case Tableau, offer several different ways to represent data. Chris Calo, Business Systems Analyst with the Cincinnati Reds, uses several different types of visualizations to highlight important information for his organization.

“Tableau has helped Reds management view data in a totally different way.  Whether it is a stadium heat map, viewing suite availability in real-time, or filtering through data reports, Tableau has made the understanding of data a much easier process with their visualization tools.”

At the Rangers

The Texas Rangers currently use Tableau to showcase the following information:

  • Real Time Ticket Sales updates
  • Actual Sales vs Budgeted Sales Comparisons
  • Sales Representatives Inbound and Outbound Calls
  • Real Time Game Day Turnstile Reporting
  • Real Time Merchandise Sales
  • Breakdown of Ticket Sales in our various box offices, concierge, and phone room
  • Cell Phone Anaylsis
  • Seasonal Employee Payroll Monitoring

Use your data visualization tool to showcase data in easy to view, eye catching, and easy to understand format. These tools provide you with a plethora of options, and it’s key that you find the visualization that enhances the data you are showing so that a quick and productive decision can be made for your organization.

An abundance of unformatted data can seem like a daunting task. However, with the appropriate plan in place any team or organization can convert the data into a usable format and begin visualizing real time information in a brand new way!


 

 Cover photo courtesy of http://www.tableausoftware.com/ 

 

Sponsorships: Win/Win Brand Partnerships

Sponsorships: Win/Win Brand Partnerships
by John Dillon – November 2014

How do you win corporate partnerships?

It’s no secret the world of marketing has become exponentially more complex over the last several years.  Gone are the days of screaming your brand message through TV or radio, and expecting to hit exactly the target you wanted.

As you look to take your brand or team to the next level, how well do you understand your consumer base?  And as you look to corporate partners, how well do you understand THEIR objectives as well as your own?

[re]Think Segments

For an established brand like Denny’s, we’ve spent quite a bit of time listen — really listening — to current and potential guests.  We quickly realized just how diverse their needs were.  It’s led to some exciting and successful initiatives running a broad range of targeted partnerships with:

  1. AARP to speak directly to our active boomer (50+) generation,
  2. Social and digital media efforts with branded content with partners like College Humor, Funny or Die, DumbDumb, and
  3. Continual dialogue with younger guests on Tumblr, among many others.

Recently we launched a successful partnership with Atari, appealing to multiple generations including kids, millennials and Generation X who have sparked to sharing the experience of the classic Atari games like Centipede and Asteroids, turned into relevant games downloadable and playable under our Denny’s inspired names like Centipup and Hasteroids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEZGjYdXnfI

dennys-hobbit-menuSimilarly, we’ve partnered with major movie releases such as The Hobbit to appeal to generations both young and old.  Our kids menu has become re-energized this year with a wonderful partnership with National Geographic Kids – a brand that research proved had strong appeal to both kids and parents.  A wide array of partners enable us to drive sales and traffic counts against multiple targets simultaneously, not one at the expense of another.

What’s in common?

Each of these partnerships have commonalities:

  1. They are unique. No one else is doing anything like it.
  2. They hit specific targets at a time where they are most receptive–where they are and when they’re naturally consuming the media vehicle we’ve selected.
  3. And most importantly, they are partnerships that truly create win/win situations for both brands.  Each of us (our brand and the partner brand) allows the other new avenues to target key customer groups in ways that we don’t necessarily naturally reach.

How does this translate to sports marketing?  Having been on both sides–the team and the brand–I can attest that it does very clearly.

Within the team sports space, our best partners understand our brand and the particular target we’re trying to reach in that market AND the particular business objective we’re trying to hit.  Is it a value sensitive market?  If so, how can you help us get our value message across?  Is it a heavy Hispanic market?  If so, let’s make sure that important demographic is clearly a part of the partnership proposal.  A market with a high representation of families… or millennials?  You get the idea.   A little research by the team goes a long way and leads to truly breakthrough results for BOTH of us.  Come with THOSE ideas, and you’ll prove there are indeed positive, powerful win/win partnerships.

 

 

How to Get Into Sponsorship Sales

How to Get Into Sponsorship Sales
S3 Club Winners
S3 Club Winners: Lauren Bacon, Turquoise Early, Colten Renner
by Brooks Byers – October 2014

The Dallas Mavericks’ George Killebrew, the San Antonio Spurs’ Jeanne Garza and Baylor IMG’s Brian George shared advice and experiences in the sponsorship field at the Baylor S3 Club meeting on October 8th. Courtesy of Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports 1, we also provided some lucky Baylor S3 club members with court side seats at the Dallas Mavericks preseason game against the Pacers.

Why should students pursue a career in sports?

All three panelists spoke about the “diversity” of opportunities that selling sponsorships affords people. Sponsorship sales takes people outside the office, learning the inner workings of a range of businesses from “mom and pop stores to traditional giants” as Brian George put it. George Killebrew said it was great for people who enjoy “learning something new” every day.

On the other hand, the group warned of the long days that come with the job. Jeanne Garza said it’s important to remember that “it’s not what you see on ESPN.” Killebrew reminded everyone that “other jobs are more of a nine to five, Monday to Friday deal, and sports can always be a hobby. But, when the team schedule comes out for the year, it pretty much plans my life for the next few months.”

Getting into corporate partnerships

Brian George
Brian George

Killebrew’s advice for those interested in selling sponsorships was to gain experience in “multi-dimensional sales” like in the media field, where packaging groups of inventory for clients is more complex than selling individual products. Jeanne Garza suggested selling air at radio stations, since it’s more promotion-driven than TV, hence more like selling sponsorships for properties. Brian George underscored the need to be able to think outside the box. “We sell ideas, concepts and beliefs. Clients must know you have their best interests at heart.”

Women in sports

Jeanne Garza believes that opportunities for women in the field have grown significantly. She cautioned that women still have to be particularly careful in how they present themselves and in separating their professional and personal lives.

killebrew new
George Killebrew

George Killebrew believes the talent pool today is much larger, and that the leadership teams he’s seen that included women were much more effective.

Career advice for students

Killebrew said that those wishing to enter the field need to be comfortable “introducing themselves and telling people what they want to do.”

He also said that a good resume is simply a “blueprint for telling your story, and a guide for our discussion” in the interview process.

Jeanne Garza made a case for cover letters because they’re a great way to show why you’re unique and a great fit for a position. She also added that any errors in the resume or cover letter are reason enough to not consider a candidate.

Jeanne Garza
Jeanne Garza

Brian George emphasized the importance of building relationships, especially in a small industry like sponsorship sales. Even if you just meet someone new and go to dinner with no immediate job prospects, you should still write a hand-written thank you note.


Cover photo source: Courtside Jones

 

4 Keys to Social Selling

4 Keys to Social Selling
by Tim Salier – October 2014

Social selling has become increasingly prevalent in the professional sports sales environment.  For years, the concept of social media in the workplace has been associated with fears of misuse, poor time management and potential disclosure of proprietary information.  However, recent trends have shown that, when used appropriately, social media can be developed into a very effective sales tool.

In discussing the concept of social selling with several members of the Spurs Sports & Entertainment sales staff, four primary steps were identified in developing an effective social selling strategy:

  • Develop your brand/presence on social networks such as LinkedIn
  • Target the “right” prospects
  • Engage with identified prospects
  • Build trust and qualify the prospects

Develop your brand

Allen Schlesinger
Allen Schlesinger

According to Allen Schlesinger, Premium Sales Manager for the Austin Spurs, developing an appropriate personal brand on social networks such as LinkedIn is critical. An appropriate personal profile on LinkedIn should be completed with updated personal information, professional affiliations, an accurate description of your role with the franchise and, most importantly, a professional profile picture.

Target the “right” prospects

Julian Dais
Julian Dais

Both Allen and San Antonio Spurs Premium Account Executive, Julian Dais, agreed that having a strategy to target the “right” prospects is the key to being successful with social media tools such as LinkedIn. The “right” prospect has a unique combination of (1) decision making authority, (2) some sort of connectivity or interest to basketball designated on their profile and, preferably, (3) a shared connection to help with an introduction. Both shared similar thoughts that there isn’t a “perfect” prospect, but there are multiple factors to look for in searching for the people they would like to prospect.

Engage identified prospects

After identifying the appropriate prospects, the next step in effective social selling is engaging those prospects in a way that invites further discussion. Julian and Allen commented that the initial message should include a brief introduction, a reason for reaching out to them and an invitation for further discussion, usually face to face but by phone if necessary. The initial message should be no longer than a paragraph and emphasize the invitation to meet in person for further discussion.

Build trust (and qualify)

The last step in the process is building trust and further qualifying the new prospect to insure an effective face to face meeting. The trust building and qualifying process is usually very similar to a traditional sales call. Use general fact finding questions about past interactions with the team and/or a casual e-mail conversation about mutual personal or professional contacts. After some brief two way discussion and confirmation that the prospect is qualified, a mutually agreed upon meeting location is established and the social selling process commences.

Social = Sales

Over the last couple of seasons, both Allen and Julian have emerged as two of the more effective social sellers within Spurs Sports & Entertainment as well as their respective leagues and sales categories. In fact, Allen is widely recognized at NBA League meetings for his best practice usage of LinkedIn as a sales tool. Averaging approximately ten LinkedIn generated face to face meetings each week, Allen currently ranks as the #1 New FSE revenue producer in the NBA D-League and attributes 90%+ of his new revenue generation to social selling.


Cover photo source: Mark Smiciklas

 

The surprisingly simple little secret to landing a leadership position

The surprisingly simple little secret to landing a leadership position
by Kirk Madsen – October 2014

What is leadership?

For everything written about leadership and management (an Amazon.com search yields over 1 million books on the topic!), we sure seem to have a lot of questions about what it is and how to do it. One of the questions people in leadership positions get asked all the time is, “How did you get to where you are now?”

Whatever their answer is, it will probably include a surprisingly simple little secret.

Ready? There is no secret.

There really isn’t much of a mystery. Leaders follow simple, repeatable processes anyone can start immediately!

But, before we talk about these processes, let’s first establish two key ground rules:

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Ground rule #1: Consistency is king.

Ground rule #2: A positive attitude is non-negotiable.[/dropshadowbox]

These two ground rules are the cornerstones or the foundation for all you do. Over the long haul, building success without these cornerstones is impossible. From there, focus on a few key concepts:

Concept #1: Do more, now.

Leaders work harder and generate results more consistently than their peers.

Dionna Widder
Dionna Widder

Dionna Widder, the Vice President of Ticket Sales & Service with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sums this point up perfectly: “You do not need a title to be a leader. Set yourself apart with your work ethic and results.” Everyone is capable of having a great week, or even a great month. Leaders have great quarters and great years. Sure, they have their off-days. So did Michael Jordan; his were just better than everyone else’s.

Concept #2: Lead, now.

Take on a leadership role with your current team.

Joe Schiavi
Joe Schiavi

Joe Schiavi, the Director of Inside Sales with the Detroit Pistons, offers some practical advice to practice leadership now: “Teach less experienced reps and give time out of your day to make sure that your teammates have the best possible opportunity for success.  Your manager will notice your extra efforts. Your teammates will respect you because you took the time out of your day to help them when they needed assistance.”

Concept #3: Be a student.

Every day.

Consider how much more capable you are of passing a test when you’ve taken the time to study. Widder recommends, “Schedule a meeting with your manager or other leaders in the industry to learn.  Seek out resources and dedicate time to be a student.” Books, articles, TED talks, conversations with others – there are countless resources available. Use one of them every day!

Concept #4: Pick your peers.

Immediately find mentors and surround yourself with successful people.

Do you know what I love most about being a leader? Finding others who want to succeed, and empowering them to do it. On a peer-to-peer level, spend your time and energy with people who exhibit the positive personal and professional traits you see (or want to see) in yourself. On an executive level, ask the people you admire to mentor you. The benefits of surrounding yourself with successful people will be real and immediate. “Ask and welcome feedback from your leaders, peers, and friends and develop plans to improve areas that need improving,” Widder says. “Feedback can be both positive and constructive; both are valuable to your growth.”

By applying these concepts, you’ll have a greater impact on your organization. The greater the impact, the greater your chances of breaking into leadership positions.


Cover photo courtesy of MarcMo.

 

How to successfully transition from sales to management

How to successfully transition from sales to management
by Andre Luck – October 2014

Early in my sales career I knew I wanted to make an impact in young people’s lives, and I felt the best platform for me to do so was as a ticket sales manager. The transition from a successful salesperson to a successful sales manager is an exciting yet challenging transition. Fortunately I had great leaders and mentors that prepared me for this step. I wrote this article for salespeople that aspire to one day take the step to sales management. I’ve provided a few tips that helped me along the way.

Management vs. Sales

We hear that the best athletes do not always make the best coaches. The same principle exists in sales. Yet, organizations continue to take top salespeople and rush them into management even if they are not fit to lead. Make sure you step into a management position for the right reasons. There is nothing wrong with being a lifelong salesperson. There are great opportunities to make a lot of money in premium and corporate sales. Very successful salespeople will actually take a pay cut when stepping into their first management opportunity. I have friends in the industry that tell me they enjoy only having to manage themselves day to day opposed to an entire department.

Good Bucket/Bad Bucket

Jason Howard
Jason Howard

Jason Howard, Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Marketing for the Houston Astros, gave me great advice early in my sales career. You will see bosses do a lot of things you agree with and not agree with. As you observe different management styles and actions, put these items into a good bucket and a bad bucket. The good bucket would consist of the things I liked and wanted to make sure I did when I became a manager and the bad bucket would be the opposite. To make sure I did not forget what was going into each bucket I started keeping a journal as new ideas would come to me.

What’s Your Game Plan?

How will you recruit the best talent for your team? What do you want your team to look like? What are your methods to keep your staff motivated? What are your non-negotiables? These questions along with a list of many others are questions you should be thinking about now. Start preparing your business plan now and get feedback from those you respect in the industry. The first time you think through your plan should not be when you are asked to put together a 30-60-90 day business plan as part of your interview.

Hire Tough

The most important thing you can do as a leader is hiring the right people or what the book Good To Great calls “getting the right people on the bus.” Know exactly what it is you’re looking for and never settle on a candidate. During an interview is the very best you will ever see a candidate; they will not all of a sudden be better once they are hired. If there are any doubts on a candidate it is better to pass, as you may regret it down the road if you lower your standards.

 What, How, and Why

P.J. Keene
P.J. Keene

As a manager it is important to set clear expectations for your team of WHAT you expect them to do, train and coach them on HOW to best do it, and clearly explain WHY you want them to do it. Senior Director of Group & Inside Sales for the Houston Astros, PJ Keene, says,

“Be prepared. The best salespeople want to know why you make the decisions you make. Since they value their own career development, understanding your decision making process is important to them. In order to help progress their careers, think through ahead of time what is really most important to you and be able to explain why you made a decision or why you think a particular direction is the best way to go. Be prepared to answer those questions before your best salespeople ask them.”

When your team knows what is expected, how to do it and why they are doing it they are more motivated and you will see greater results.

Patience is Key

Ralph Waldo Emerson has a great quote: “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.”

Be patient and don’t lose sight of the task at hand. As a salesperson, your number one priority is to generate revenue. Developing leadership skills should come secondary. Don’t jump at the first opportunity. Make sure the values of who you work for align with your values. The bosses you work for and your personal and professional development should be more important than your title, compensation, and the organization. If you are a great leader the right opportunity will present itself. The money will follow. It is okay to be more than prepared for your next step.

 

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