The enemy of success is isolation. The higher you go the easier isolation becomes, but, it’s a devastating problem at all levels of leadership.
Isolated leaders fear conspiracies and feel misunderstood. Worse yet, ivory-tower leaders resort to control through authority.
Us/them thinking destroys influence.
Defeat isolation and enhance success by developing a high-power inner circle.
Don’t take volunteers. Choose your inner circle.
Three people are enough. Six is too many and two is too few. You need a:
Visionary who is never satisfied.
Tender-heart who nurtures people.
Doer who is fanatical about execution.
Note: Include at least one old and one young.
Hard working. Doers trump thinkers.
Strong opinions and emotions. Lapdogs feel good but won’t take you far.
Unflinching alignment with organizational values.
Comfort saying no. Good manners are nice but not essential.
Dedication to serve the organization before serving themselves.
Strength to confront brutal facts.
Openness to change.
Technical skills and experience are nice, but character comes first.
You won’t find candidates who perfectly fit the bill. Weaknesses are strengths in disguise. Consider the:
Recruit strong people. Hard to manage is better than easy.
Create connections within the inner circle.
Instigate creative tension.
Honor their individual perspectives.
Satisfy their fundamental concerns.
Focus them on finding solutions.
Put your three people – visionary, tender-heart, and doer – together and shake them up. Help them butt heads. Design projects, programs, solutions, and vision that satisfies their individual perspectives.
Focus, ignite, and galvanize your inner circle and your organization will follow.
Don’t worry about those who feel jealous of the inner three. But, don’t constantly huddle in public, either.
What qualities are essential for a high-powered inner circle? Tweet (@leadershipfreak) below or visit our Facebook page to offer your feedback.
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?
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:
The 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:
Any change – especially leadership – is a difficult thing.
Understand and appreciate why things were being done the way they were when we arrived.
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]
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)
People just starting to climb the ladder in this business often ask: How do I become a leader? I do not have ALL the answers, but here are six tips that will help.
1. Learn to follow
Say what? I asked you to tell me how to be a leader and you say to learn to follow? Yep, that’s right. You can’t lead until you know how to follow. And the best leaders are constantly following. Trust me, you don’t have all the answers. And solutions can come from anywhere in the ranks or from outside sources such as books, mentors, etc.
He who has never learned to obey can not be a good commander – Aristotle
There are 3 essentials to leadership: humility, clarity & courage – Fuchan Yuan
2. Be a part of the solution (not the problem)
Trust me, there will be plenty of your co-workers complaining about all the problems with whatever organization you happen to work for. An easy way to set yourself apart is to think of solutions rather than join in the bickering. First, your superiors will notice, but more importantly, it’s just a better way to live life. Don’t get caught up in the negativity. Have a vision & problem solve.
Where there is no vision, the people perish – Proverbs 29:18
3. Lead by example
People do not want to be told what to do. They want to be shown. It’s OK to get in the trenches.
Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow – Chinese Proverb
4. Surround yourself with the best
Don’t micromanage. It’s OK to hire people smarter than you. For me to be the best, I want to hire the best. There will be many things my people can do better than I can and that’s great. Give people rope. There are other solutions than just the one in your head.
The best executive is the one who has enough sense to pick good men to do what he wants, and the self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it – Theodore Roosevelt
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity – General George Patton
5. Stand up for what matters
Pick your battles. This is probably the hardest thing to learn. When I was younger, I battled for everything. I thought it had to be my way or it would be wrong. The key to leadership is fighting for the important stuff, not every stuff.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock – Thomas Jefferson
6. Believe in your vision & act
One of my favorite sayings from Mark Twain is “No one told them it was impossible, so they did it.”
There are so many naysayers in our world and everyday life. People will tell you your plan can’t get done. They will point out all the reasons why you will fail. And this is where you can set yourself apart as a leader. Believe in your plan. But, most importantly, ACT on it. And allow others to act. As a leader, I truly believe half of my job is to just say YES.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead
Our Back-to-School September issue of the S3 Report includes two articles focused on selling NCAA sports:
Bryce Killingsworth (Oklahoma State University) explains how and why their innovative STH retention program has been successful. Read more…
Brian Erenrich and David Quill (both with Aspire at Georgia Tech) report on how Gen Y salespeople and Gen X managers differ and how they can learn to play well together. Read more…
We look to add more content aimed at NCAA sports. Let us know if you have ideas or interests in contributing. Thanks to Bryce, Brian & David for stepping up!
In news on the Baylor home front, we ended the summer with our first ever Baylor S3 DFW Summer Bash!
Lisa DePoy, Senior Marketing Director for On the Border, hosted the event at On the Border in Addison, Texas. Paige Phillips (S3 ’10), Account Manager at GMR Marketing, also helped host.
Tommy Wright (S3 ’11), Regional Sales Manager at Legends Sales & Marketing, and John Burnett, Executive Director of Marketing at Southwest Media Group, created the event. Wright and Burnett put their heads together earlier in the summer and came up with the idea for the gathering, realizing how many Baylor S3 interns, board members, alumni and friends were located in the DFW area.
Interns shared summer experiences and received feedback from executives about next steps to take on possible entry-level jobs next year. Most of all, interns, alumni, and executives alike enjoyed networking and catching-up, while continuing to support Baylor and the S3 program.
Feedback & insights
We asked some of the attendees about their involvement and interest in supporting the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program at Baylor.
“Partnering with the Baylor S3 Program is a win/win/win: Every student, graduate, faculty member, sponsor, and team who contributes also benefits. I attended the event to support the interns, the program, and the people who had the vision to invent and implement the event. Great job! I came away from the event energized from interacting with the interns, sponsors, and teams and from hearing about so many great things happening in the industry.” ~Bill Boyce, President, Texas Legends
“My first exposure to the Baylor S3 program dates back to last fall when Tommy Wright was hired by Legends to represent the Lone Star Conference in corporate sales efforts. This summer the quality of the S3 program came into full view as we added Brian Christensen as a summer intern. Having had two S3 products in our office daily, it is clear to see the program instills a good sense of purpose and direction in its students. It’s refreshing to have employees who are intentional and strategic about the way they approach their business, confident in their ability to do the work, and eager enough to ask the right questions.” ~Stan Wagnon, Commissioner, Lone Star Conference
“One of the main reasons I chose the S3 major was the fact that at the time I attended Baylor, I saw many people around me graduating with no job lined up. The S3 major’s curriculum, board of directors, and internship opportunities guarantee you will find success as long as you are willing to put in the work. I came to see old friends and meet new faces. I love hearing success stories from other S3 members.” ~Paige Phillips (S3 ’10), Account Manager, GMR Marketing
Brian Christensen (S3 ’14) helped organize the event and provided the report and pictures of the event. Nice work, Brian!
Thanks to you, the growth in readership and membership at the S3 Report has been exceptional. Let’s start with who we are and then how we’ve grown.
Who are we?
The S3 Report launched in January 2013 with a following of no more than 75 members of our S3 Board and staff who write for us. Within four months, we had 300 registered members (up 400%). Starting from scratch in January (visits = 0), where has your support taken us?
4,506 unique visitors, 7,174 total visits, and 37,625 page views since January 1.
1,792 unique visitors since May 1:
67% new visitors
Over 98% stay on the site for 3 minutes and view over 5 articles each visit.
First, we started with influencers. Executives from leading teams in every league and among major sports advertisers from the Baylor S3 Advisory Board provided the foundation as our writers.
Second, more influencers like you joined the community via social media. With the help of the first 75 influencers and their followers, traffic was generated primarily through Twitter referrals. Over half of our traffic (51.3%) comes from referrals via social media and other websites, with another 16% from search traffic and 30% direct traffic to the site.
Breaking down the referrals with Google Analytics, we can see how most new visitors get here:
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]If you missed any of these, the good news is our archives are always open. If you haven’t yet joined our community, the best news is it’s free. Just click here![/dropshadowbox]
Managers and executives from professional sports met for the inaugural Daniel Sport & Entertainment Leadership Summit the third weekend in February in San Diego. We plan to host this event each year to encourage each other to be leaders in our homes, at work, and in our spheres of influence.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”300px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ][slideshow_deploy id=’1443′][/dropshadowbox]
The summit is named after the Biblical character Daniel, who set himself apart from others in the culture by pursuing excellence, being a disciplined man of character, and being confident that God was with him daily. Ultimately Daniel used the “stage” given to him to have influence on his culture.
The idea for the summit sprung from a discussion among a group of executives led by Jeremy Walls and Jason Howard. ” We all had the same vision of encouraging each other in balancing personal and professional lives,” explained Walls.
The summit included attendees from teams/leagues (New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, Sacramento Rivercats, NBA, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns) and companies (Sports Sales Consulting, Fan Interactive, Exact Target), as well as faculty from supporting universities (Baylor, Mount Union, and Point Loma). Spouses present participated in a joint Saturday afternoon conference session.
The week after we asked the executives what stayed top-of-mind. We’ve boiled it down to the Top 10 Takeaways.
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Top 10 Takeaways from the Daniel Conference
Success in my personal life can actually make me better in your professional life. I have always thought of that in reverse and realize how wrong I have been.
Change my thinking from ” I will invest into my career so I can provide for my family,” to “I will invest time and energy into my family and God will continue to bless my career.”
Understand what Bob Briner means in his book, Roaring Lambs: Christians can and ought to be the movers and shakers of positive social change — ‘”roaring lambs.'”
Proactively pursue carving out time with family and then apply this to those I lead, making sure they take time to disconnect from work. This may be one of the greatest witnesses of care and compassion to members of my team.
There’s no plan B. God doesn’t have a special ops force he’s sending in. We’re it. We need to lead.
Sabbath: God took a day to rest and reflect, we should too! If the King of the World can take a day off…so can I. I was very convicted regarding how important I think I am sometimes.
The example of Daniel is “excellence in our personal lives bubbles up and carries over into professional lives.”
Like Daniel, God has put you on a stage to change culture and influence lives, even years after you are gone.
Believers should be more “invasive” into the world and less “retreating.” The church is the “locker room” where we prepare; “the game” is the day-to-day living out of our faith.
Realize “you are” the salt and the light of the earth. We should be “shoveling the salt out as fast as we can!”[/dropshadowbox]
Are you interested in becoming a better/more intentional father, husband, and executive? Invitations for next year’s summit are open to managers, directors, and executives in professional sports and executives in agencies and companies serving professional sports. We will announce next year’s Daniel Sports & Entertainment Leadership Summit in the S3 Report and also post in the S3 Report LinkedIn group. If you want to make certain you receive a personal invitation, click here to sign-up!
You employ systems and strategies for starting, maintaining, and moving forward. Adopt systems for stopping as well.
People who can’t say, “No,” chase all the spilled marbles at once. They’re confused and empty handed in the end. Too many yeses distract, weigh down, and waste energy.
“In order to grow, a business must have a
systematic policy to get rid of the outgrown,
the obsolete, and the unproductive.”
[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”On a personal level, with a one-year old already at home and another child on the way, it’s imperative that I make as efficient use of time as possible to still maintain the same level of productivity others have come to expect and I expect from myself. Knowing when to say enough is enough on a project headed nowhere is key to maintaining not only a healthy work vs life balance, but in some cases your own sanity!” Andrew Brown[/dropshadowbox]Begin right now with, “What do you need to stop?” conversations with key people. Ask:
What drains energy?
What wastes time?
What produces small returns?
Which customers should be sent to competitors?
Is it time to stop petting a pet project?
What distracts from leveraging strengths?
What has low impact?
What can be stopped?
Paperwork is on many lists of frustrating, energy drainers, for example. Are reports necessary or antiquated? How much time is spent completing reports that seldom, if ever, get used?
“Planned, purposeful abandonment of the old
and of the unrewarding is a prerequisite to
successful pursuit of the new and highly promising.” Peter Drucker
You’re tough when it comes to endurance. Get courageous and tough on stopping things, too.
Schedule a monthly abandonment meeting. Carve off part of your business or organization and ask:
Do returns justify expense?
How much would it matter if we stopped …?
How are we squandering strengths?
How are these activities aligned with mission and vision?
“The concept of time management grows more important as the demands placed on leaner workforces continue to also grow. Successful business leaders understand the proper balance of what is most important and what can be delegated or even ignored. We task our staff with developing a list of the 5 most important things to accomplish each week and provide the support and accountability to keep on track. Hopefully, less time and energy is spent on things simply not important to our business objectives.”
I don’t remember when I first heard of a, “Not to-do list,” but it’s genius. Make one. Variations of abandonment lists:
Do less of list.
Put it off till you’re tired and grumpy list.
Don’t care if it’s ever done list.
Have someone else do it list.
Discuss with your team
How can leaders and members of our team get better at abandonment?
Make a hundred calls, cover the phones, get a sale, ask for a referral, and work the sales table. I’m tired of making all these calls! Some people are disrespectful! Why can’t people just say “not interested” instead of hanging up? My boss is getting on my nerves! Why am I doing all the work? It seems like all the senior reps do is walk around the venue visiting fans or sitting in suites and talking sports with potential clients. Wow, when do I get to move up?
That is how it can feel to be an Inside Sales rep. It’s an entry level position of continual sales training sessions, crammed next to co-workers, making hundreds of outbound calls to prospects and getting paid pennies compared to senior sales reps. We called our inside sales room, “The Dungeon.” No windows, small cubes, no space to stretch out, and a whiteboard showcasing either remarkable or dreadful sales numbers.
I remember competing with twelve other reps for one or two senior rep positions. Not only were we competing for a promotion, but also commissions. When I received my first commission check, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a sales rep for a pro sports team: $550 bucks. YEAH BUDDY! My mind was made up. I saw my efforts determined my pay check as well as my career path. GAME ON![dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Truths of Inside Sales
If the glamour of sports is what attracts you, buy season tickets.
A career in sports sales requires internships, networking, extreme work ethic, and proven competitiveness.
Winners always go above and beyond what is expected.[/dropshadowbox]
How do you break into sports?
The most frequent question I hear is “how do I break into the industry?” I immediately turn skeptical because most people usually think it’s about watching games, connecting with players, and being in a fun and exciting environment. But what they don’t know is I’m in sales. In many ways I am no different than the guy selling insurance or home mortgages. I just get to sell the NBA.
Internships. As a hiring manager the first thing I look for in a candidate is internship experience. Internships show an understanding that the job is difficult and not glamorous. It provides exposure to sales teams and management and allows access to build relationships with managers and others in the industry. I often see hundreds of resumes to only hire 2 to 3 reps. The industry is highly competitive and specific keys are essential to getting in. Network at all cost, attend job fairs, read up on the industry, and pick up the phone and sell yourself.
“The best piece of advice a professor gave me in college is, “It’s not who you know; it’s who KNOWS you!” Meeting someone is the first step, but maintaining a relationship with them is CRITICAL to your success. These relationships will allow you to stand out among a crowded and competitive pool of people who want to get into the industry. In addition, you’ll get much better advice, innovative ideas, and growth opportunities because of the relationships you have… not because of the business cards you’ve collected.”[/dropshadowbox]
Preparation. The Texas Rangers found my resume on Monster.com, no joke. The Inside Sales Manager for the Rangers at that time had two reps search for candidates on the web. They brought me in for an interview and I met with the Inside Sales Manager and then the VP of Ticket Sales. I’ll never forget the role play with the VP right on the spot: “Okay, Charles sell me something.” Those were his exact words. I was so nervous, but at that moment I remembered my first sales job while at Texas Tech calling alumni for contributions. I used the same pitch again. Ten minutes later they offered me the job.
The typical sport sales career path
The typical career road map consists of three sales positions before moving into the three levels of sales management (manager, director, vice-president).
Inside Sales: Set a foundation base on work ethic, developing sales skills, and tracking sales performance. Deals are typically discrete transactions for ticket packages.
Account Executive (season tickets or groups): Manage your customer base, focusing on relationship selling and closing high value deals. Most deals at this level become moderate or complex sales.
Premium/Suites: Recognized for your achievements, you are now an expert compared to the novice you were when you first stepped into inside sales. All sales are complex with a higher value, as you often sell to corporate accounts.
Generating revenue will lead to a career. Don’t work to reach minimums (i.e., the job description). Go above and beyond. Winners in this business are team players who keep open lines of communication with supervisors and co-workers.
Old style leaders are about giving permission to supplicants. Their followers seek permission. It’s an “I/you” rather than “we” dynamic. Leaders have power and followers must ask.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”300px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Asking softens a tough request so the other person hears it. Asking signals you want help. Using a ‘we’ approach builds momentum within a sales team.”
I/you leadership is disengaging and dis-empowering.
Successful leaders do more than give permission, they get it. Permission answers the question, “Is it ok with you if we talk about something?”
Five Powers of Permission:
1. “May I …” builds trust.
2. “Would it be ok if …” shares power.
3. “Do you mind if …” equalizes social status.
4. “Could we discuss…” prevents stagnation. Permission moves the agenda forward when topics are awkward.
5. “Is it ok with you, if…” engages.
Permission opens doors, protects relationships, and prevents stagnation.
Ask permission to:
1. Bring up uncomfortable topics. Set a date for the conversation.
2. Explore progress.
3. Correct. “May I …”
5. Give feedback.
6. Say what you see. “Is it ok if I share something I see …”
Four responses to NO:
When permission isn’t granted? Ask:
1. How business-critical is the topic?
2. Is there a deeper issue to address?
3. Can you let it go?
4. Must you address it, regardless?
When topics are mission critical, say, “We need to talk about this soon.”
Just a courtesy:
Isn’t asking permission just social courtesy? Yes, sometimes it is. But, social courtesies smooth and protect. Perhaps you prefer to be discourteous and abrasive?
Four reasons leaders don’t ask permission:
1. Arrogance. It’s too humbling to ask and too easy to tell.
2. Fear of seeming weak.
3. Fear of losing power.
4. Authoritarian rather than relational leadership styles.
Discussion with your sales team
“Managers seen as always being negative aren’t followed,” explains Gregg Bennett, Director, Center for Sport Management Research and Education at Texas A&M University. “In general, people want to be around positive individuals in everyday life and the work environment.”
What does permission-leadership look like in your world?
What are the pros and cons of permission-leadership?