How do you know the difference between a sales rep who’s going to make it and those who won’t?
Research tell us that one way is to look at whether they’re learners or lookers.
What do learners look like?
Learners are the sales reps who focus on mastering new situations, exploring tasks, acquiring new skills, and learning from experience, all with an ultimate goal of self-improvement.
How do you know if you have a learner? When learners face a challenge they will:
seek feedback, and
Obviously, you don’t have a learner if they avoid problems, give up, keep doing what they’ve been doing, don’t ask for help, and don’t solve problems.
What do lookers look like?
Some reps just want to look like they’re doing something instead of doing it. They are out to prove themselves to others instead of just improving.
Lookers focus on appearing competent to others and gaining favorable evaluations. They run away from challenges that might pose the risk of making mistakes. Instead their ultimate goal is positive self-presentation and impression management.
How do you know if you have a looker? When lookers face a challenge they will:
avoid challenging tasks,
withdraw from the task,
set low goals,
make negative ability attributions, and
demonstrate a helpless response.
In contrast, learners will embrace the challenge, set high goals, assume they have the ability to figure it out, and will even want to help others meet and beat the challenge.
What about your staff?
George Killebrew, Executive Vice President, Dallas Mavericks, breaks down the importance of learning and adapting:
“Our staff includes those with us just a short time as well as those who’ve been with us 14 years and even 22 years. They all realize that they must keep up with the ever changing world of sponsorship–from understanding digital, to mobile, to social media, to all the latest trends. If they fail to adapt, they become dinosaurs. This is a fairly young at heart business and you must have the stamina to keep up! Not just physically working 50 home games each year, but mentally with all the new inventory that comes our way and the changing trends in our industry. Those that fail to adapt, unfortunately have to go. It’s learn or leave!”
Look carefully at your sales team. Is everyone on board a true learner? What answers would you get if you showed them the five characteristics of learners and lookers and asked, “Which one are you?”
Do you have a bunch of learners or lookers? Can lookers learn to be learners? What can you do to challenge your group to keep learning?
Click the Twitter or LinkedIn buttons below to share with others and keep the conversation going. Tweet to us @kirkwakefield, @georgekillebrew, #learners!
Read the original research here: Chai, J., Zhao, G., & Babin, B. J. (2012). An Empirical Study on the Impact of Two Types of Goal Orientation and Salesperson Perceived Obsolescence on Adaptive Selling. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 32(2), 261-274.
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)
When I read that headline posted by my friend J.W. Cannon, I realized one thing: When people contact me they don’t care how busy I am. They want to know I care. About them. About whatever it is that motivated them to contact me.
What happens if someone always reminds you how busy they are? After a while, you get the picture and stop contacting them. That’s not the image I want others to associate with me. I’d much rather be known as an effective time manager.
“How do the elite signal to each other how important they are? “I am slammed” is a socially acceptable way of saying “I am important.” Fifty years ago, Americans signaled class by displaying their leisure: think banker’s hours (9 to 3). Today, the elite display their extreme schedules.” ~Joan Williams[/dropshadowbox]
Some of the busiest people I know are never too busy to respond. They are important but don’t act like it. These are CEOs, CROs, COOs, and SVPs of some of the best sports franchises in North America. What is their secret?
First, they care enough to respond.
Second, they understand people just want a response. It can be yes, no, or wait. A non-response just means another email or call. More time.
Before the era of email we were taught to handle a piece of paper once. Same principle applies: Act on it. Delegate it. File it. Trash it.
#2 Realign priorities. Really.
The bottom line: We do what is important to us. No one forces me to have a busy schedule. I must face the reality: It’s my choice.
As J.W. shared with me, “Busy people need to learn to prioritize tasks better, otherwise they will get bogged down in minutia. Focus on what’s most important first and foremost, and note those things that can wait.”
Sometimes even your profile pic tells others something about what’s important in life.
#3 Just say “no.”
Many people think “no” is an unacceptable answer to give. They avoid answering. The exact opposite is the truth.
We respect people who can tell us no. A solid no allows us to move on to next. Non-response wastes the time of both parties.
As J.W. continues, “Learn to say ‘no.’ There’s no harm in letting people know you don’t have the capacity to handle something. There’s still only 24 hours in a day; trying to stretch that just leads to unproductive busy work.”
#4 Get smart.
Take a time management course. Read the “One Minute Manager.” Too busy? Listen while driving or exercising. Click here and buy, like I just did.
From Tony Schwartz: Begin workdays by focusing for 90 uninterrupted minutes on the one task you decide the night before is the most important. Turn off email. Close all windows on the computer. Let the phone go to voicemail. After 90 minutes, take a break.
Cut useless meetings, especially if you’re in charge. If the meeting doesn’t include interchange, energize, or lead to new opportunities, cut it.
What do you think?
Aldo Kafie, Group Director at Octagon Sports, nails it: “If you can’t prioritize and delegate then you’ll always be ‘busy’.”
So, there, I hope this helps solve everyone’s problems with busy schedules. Let me know if you have other ideas or comments. Hopefully I won’t be too slammed this week to respond! Click the Tweet button below: @kirkwakefield #toobusy
“You can only be successful if the people that work for you are successful. Identify a core philosophy that guides all. Then surrender responsibility so that those who work for you can do their jobs and more can get done.”[/dropshadowbox]Launch – Fix – Re-launch – Repeat. Apologies to all the gasping perfectionists.
Dreams of perfection are nightmares to progress. The inability to identify “launch and grow” opportunities is one reason you’re stuck. For the record, I’m not suggesting a “let’s try this” approach with patients having heart surgery.
6. Choose to fuel fires.
Lousy leaders spend their time putting out fires – solving problems and fixing things. See #4.
Walk around with a gas tank on your back. Pour gas on every flicker of passion you see. It won’t be long before the passions you fuel will consume the problems you fear.
7. Choose to narrow your focus.
The greatest courage is the courage to say, “No,” to things that matter less.
Simple question, one would think. When we ask ourselves if we are coachable, most of us would say, “Absolutely I am.”
But let’s dig a little deeper. Would your manager say you are coachable? If so, you will do four things.
1. Be Open Minded.
Simple questions you should ask yourself to make sure you are as open minded as you can possibly be:
Do you apply the feedback that you receive from your manager?
Are you open to new ways of doing things, even if you have to step outside your comfort zone?
Are you willing to give something a try that works for others, that you are not doing currently?
Managers don’t ask you to do something they don’t believe would work. Be open to change. Step out of your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable trying new approaches, you may not be as coachable as you think.
2. Be Willing to Learn.
You can always expand your knowledge of the industry or company. Whether you are a rookie or a veteran, challenge yourself to learn new techniques. Don’t just use the knowledge from your manager; seek out your colleagues too. If you haven’t asked for help lately, you may not be as coachable as you think.
Coach K (Duke Blue Devils Basketball Coach)said it best: “When I first started with USA Basketball, people would say, ‘You’ve won three national championships, you’re in the Hall of Fame. You know it.’ No, you don’t. There’s always something to learn. To think otherwise would be arrogant and narrow-minded, and not very smart.”
When you reach your sales goals, what do you do? Does being at the top of the sales charts mean you know everything there is to know about selling? Never stop learning. The day you think you know it all is the day you ought to get out of the business.
“When hiring new reps, we always look for those looking to advance professionally. When we ask someone during an interview where they see themselves in five years, it is very impressive when they discuss how they want to have success as a sales representative, but ultimately want to be a sales manager. As sales managers, we love to invest significant amount of time and energy preparing our staff for career advancement, so it is imperative for the representative to share that same desire to learn, grow and develop their skill sets.” [/dropshadowbox]First, do you have a plan? What specific steps do you need to implement to reach your goals?
Second, if you’ve not met with your manager to discuss this plan and how to work together to reach the goals, you may not be as coachable as you think.
Develop a strategic plan with your manager. Invite your manager to be a part of your personal goals, not just your company goals. The biggest hurdle in success is complacency. It can be a career killer.
4. Listen. Really.
This is the most challenging and important characteristics of coachable people. Too often we spend too much time speaking, suggesting, solving, and selling! We forget to listen.
You must listen to know client needs. You must listen to know what your manager expects. What’s the difference between hearing and listening? Hearing doesn’t become listening until you allow in what is being said and actually apply it. If you haven’t changed behavior based on what your manager said lately, you might not be as coachable as you think.
“The best sales people I have had over the years have the unique ability to be quiet and listen to the client or prospective buyer. Buyers will tell you exactly what they are looking for if you give them the opportunity. Too often sales people think they need to fill dead air with conversation, when in actuality they need to just ‘shut up’ and listen.” [/dropshadowbox]
As a manager, we are searching for superstars to coach. Anyone can be a part of the team, but superstars are open minded, have a strong desire to learn, are 100% determined to succeed with our help, and most important, employ a willingness to listen to direction.
We would love to hear some feedback or characteristics that you have noticed that makes someone coachable. In fact, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes a good coach!
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!
Two governing principles drive sales management success: people and process. The right personnel following the right procedures equal success. The numbers will be there. In Vegas the house always wins because it knows and plays the odds. In the same way, we fail when we don’t play the percentages of tried and true methods. Many managers find inexplicable (for them) failure because of this very reason:
Trying to follow a process with the wrong people OR failing to provide the right process to the right people.[/dropshadowbox]
Managers get too caught up chasing numbers, telling the team they need more of [place your metric here] without showing them how. Reps fizzle out for that very reason.
Two vital steps for new leaders
The vital first step of your process as sales leader is building the relationships. No team respects someone who shows up and starts barking orders. Why should they? This manager has not established trust, gained respect and earned the right to lead. The manager title is one thing. But two-way communication fosters a winning team. Building relationships involves:
rolling up your sleeves,
getting in the trenches,
learning from front line employees what actually transpires and needs improvement, and
seeing through their eyes what works and what doesn’t.
There is no better way to diagnose the business. You cannot introduce changes to processes without taking these first steps.
Martin Coco, Director of Ticket Sales and Marketing for the St. Louis Cardinals, shares, “Two of the most important things we need to do as managers is to establish relationship and legitimacy with our staff.” With the Cardinals in particular, Martin says, “It helps that all of our manager-level staff have been promoted internally. They have done the job of the individuals they now lead.”
Although teams can’t always promote from within, Coco points out that it helps when you can. Managers have instant legitimacy with the group they are leading, as Coco points out, because they can say, “I’ve been in your shoes, and I know what challenges you are facing.”
Once relationships are built, don’t focus on selling more. Focus on what prevents sales. Gain trust by eliminating obstacles to selling.
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#fffffff” ]When obstacles are removed there is nothing left to do but sell.[/dropshadowbox]
Sell your team on why process tweaks are beneficial; they fear change just like a customer does.
Understand the sales food chain: your relationship with your team is akin to the rep relationship with a customer. You must
learn their existing processes,
expose gaps they may not have even known about, and
convince them to change based on need.
Make the fear of status quo outweigh the fear of change. Reps can make their choices. Either way, they get outside of their comfort zones. Your ability to move them away from comfortable ways of failing or maintaining mediocrity determines your success.
Staying ahead of the curve
None of us wants to have trouble with the curve. The key to hitting curve balls is watching the release point to identify the pitch. Then you can adjust the swing. So everyone on the team keeps their eyes on the ball, you must do three things with sales reps so that they can see what’s coming:
Document: where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going and what steps we are taking to get there.
Hold accountable: did they take the steps to get there? If not, why not?
Recognize: pay with money, pay with promotion, pay with attention.
Strive for personal stretch goals bigger than the commitments you must meet for your organization. Term organization goals as minimum expectations. Then even barely falling short of your stretch goals means you stay ahead of the curve.
What is the connection between happiness and sales? Most salespeople tell me it’s an easy question: “When I’m selling then I’m happy.”
How could so many salespeople possibly be wrong?
Undeniably, we feel happier after a sale, but that common answer is actually holding down our happiness and lowering our sales.
Researchers at Harvard, Yale and UPenn have been studying this issue now for two decades. We found predicting who will be a good salesperson is relatively easy. We just look for optimism.
Optimists beat pessimists
When we ran the numbers, optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 37% cross-industry. At MetLife, the top 10% of optimists were outselling the other 90% by another 90%! That’s huge, and here’s why.
Most professionals face daily setbacks, but the life of a salesman is, almost by definition, fraught with failure and rejection. In many businesses, only one in ten pitches leads to a sale, meaning that those salesmen experience rejection 90 percent of the time. (That was also my dating rejection rate in high school.) This can get pretty demoralizing after a while, which helps to explain why there is such high turnover, stress, and depression.
But here’s where it gets interesting: it turns out if you wait until a sale to be happy, you’re following a broken formula for happiness and success. We think:
I will work hard, then I’ll be successful, then I’ll be happy. [/dropshadowbox]
But every time you were successful in the past, what happened? Your brain changed the goalpost of what success looks like. If you hit your sales target last year, what did you do this year? Raised it. Happiness after a success (like a sale) is very short-lived.
But flip around the formula and try to create happiness before the sale, and our success rates rise dramatically. (Want to know more about the effects? Watch this video on TED.com.)
If I create happiness before the sale, then I’ll be more successful selling. [/dropshadowbox]
The Happiness Advantage
In The Happiness Advantage, I describe how positive brains have an unfair advantage over negative or neutral ones. Positive employees:
have higher levels of productivity,
produce higher sales,
perform better in leadership positions, and
receive higher performance ratings and higher pay.
So how do we create happiness before success?
Realize happiness only exists in the present, otherwise it will always be off in the future (never).
Train your brain to become happier.
Happiness is not only a choice, it is a work ethic:
Write down 3 new things you’re grateful for each day for 21 days. This rewires your brain for optimism.
Journal for 2 minutes each day about a positive experience. This is the fastest intervention for seeing the meaning embedded in your work.
Write a 2 minute positive email or handwritten note to someone. This deepens social support, the greatest predictor of long term happiness.
One way to train your brain to become happier is to smile more.
At a group of hospitals in post-Katrina Louisiana, we trained 11,000 employees to just smile and make eye contact in the hospital hallways. Within 6 months, the number of unique patients rose and their likelihood to refer the hospital based on good care skyrocketed.
At KPMG, I found that just teaching this concept (happiness first; success second) and practicing a positive habit can create greater happiness and job effectiveness 4 months later, in the middle of the worst tax season in recent history.
Happiness is a choice, but also an incredible advantage. Do you want to see your true sales potential? See what you can do when your brain is set on positive!
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”650px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]I can’t help but think back to some of the best sales people I’ve worked with and their attitude – pretty positive. I also can’t help but think of the people I’ve let go in the past year, all very pessimistic. Another interesting angle to look at would be the affect an optimistic person has on a potential client. Essentially, people like to buy from people they like and people like positive and friendly people. ~ Chip Maxon, Sr. Vice President, Business Operations, Sacramento RiverCats[/dropshadowbox]
Social Media, Networking, Common 1st Year Mistakes, and Tips for Success
Social media shows up in the most unusual places
Employers frequently search candidates on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked In, and blogs to see what they find. Maybe they find a cute picture of your dog (Griffie, above). Or maybe other things not so cute.
Some employers may say, “What you do outside of the organization is your own business.” But, at the end of the day, employers want great company representation 24/7/365.
The best way to find out what potential employers can see is to Google yourself. How can you manage your social media and use it to your advantage? Don’t publish anything in social media you wouldn’t want your mother (or next employer) to read or see.
While running a minor league sports team, a few arena employees were tweeting opinions on our low attendance one night. Once received on others’ feeds, tweets can’t be erased. Their comments were out there for the world to see, including their boss (me), our fans and customers and most importantly, any future employers of theirs. These young employees underestimated the power of social media, almost lost their jobs and could have damaged chances for employment elsewhere.
Social media is the new extension of your resume.
In what is an already difficult job market, employers use social media to eliminate candidates, even those with great resumes. As a hiring manager, once I found candidates I wanted to interview, I first looked them up in four places: Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (images included). If anything at all gave me the sense they were unprofessional or wouldn’t represent our company well, they were eliminated immediately. While it’s cool to post fun pictures from your last vacation with your friends, think about who might see those pictures and how they may be construed.
Managing Social Media
Make sure your profile picture is appropriate. Microsoft Outlook pulls up your social media profile picture whenever an email is received directly from you. Not sure a keg stand (or any other “party” picture) would get you in for an interview. THINK PROFESSIONAL!
Beware of content in personal blogs! Everyone is subject to their own opinions BUT negative and/or inaccurate content can come back to haunt you. (See cancel culture circa 2021.)
Social media outlets allow you to reach millions of people in seconds. Use it to your advantage when searching for jobs/internships. Let friends and family members know you are looking for a position.
When it comes to sports business careers, networking is king. Like everything else in life, it always comes down to relationships.
Stay in touch. When you make a contact keep in touch. Forward your resume immediately after contact. Make contact at least every 6 months and after career achievements like graduation, obtaining a certificate [e.g., HR Cert, Sales Cert, etc], or an award.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and professional in appearance.
These are great ways to connect with professionals that may be able to help you on your career path and offer insight, as well as search for positions.
Some groups and individuals frequently post open positions. Follow them.
Common First Year Mistakes
Mistakes entry-level employees tend to make during the first year of employment:
Lack of communication: Afraid to ask questions or for help; don’t call in when out sick; no notification of being late.
Staying out of spotlight: Make an IMPACT within the organization; get involved in committees, events, etc.; EVERYONE should know who you are or at least heard of you.
Poor networking: Get to know employees in other departments. This isn’t high school – don’t fall into a clique. Attend all company events – GREAT networking opportunity!
Not leading: Don’t be scared to pitch ideas/take lead on projects. You bring a fresh thought process to the table – voice your ideas! Volunteer to take the lead on a project to develop leadership and project management skills.
Complaining: DO NOT complain. PERIOD! Complaining is:
unpromotable. People will not want to work with you or consider you for other positions within the organization. They will think of positions for you outside the organization.
Inflexibility: Adapting to change is important. Business can change at the drop of a hat. Be open to new ways of completing tasks or approaching scenarios. Flexibility helps you grow with and within an organization and seamlessly transition into another one.
Tips for Success
Continue learning. Stay abreast with the latest in your field. Attend training, seminars, conferences, and certificate programs.
Ask for help. Not sure? Ask for clarification and guidance. Then you’ll be able to help others who don’t know.
Ask for feedback. Feedback lets you know how you are doing and where you are lacking. This is essential for professional growth and development.
Communicate. Make sure lines of communication are always clear and open.
Create Raving Fans. A customer service based fundamental: All co-workers should enjoy working with you because your product is top quality and you are great to work with. If people like working with you they are more willing to help and listen to you.
Read self-help books. Start with How to Win Friends and Influence Others and Emotional Intelligence. These are great books to help you continue growing both personally and professionally.
Look to the future. Keep moving forward. Plan your career and move towards your ultimate goal.
Reinforcement from the Houston Astros
I agree with all Jeannette points out. Two related thoughts to share:
Don’t underestimate the importance of a resume-appropriate email address. Stick with the traditional last name, first name (or some version of name). This format is simple and it works. An unprofessional address can mean the difference in a team contacting you regarding a job or passing you over for lack of professionalism.
In the interview, be sure to follow the lead of your interviewer. When you are informed at the beginning of the interview that this is going to be a quick phone screen (e.g., 10 minutes on Handshake), stick within that time frame. Everyone’s time is valuable. Sometimes you only have a short time span to sell yourself…PRACTICE THAT SKILL. It proves you can be clear, succinct and respectful of other people’s time. Consider it to be an extended elevator speech.
“True success comes to an individual by self satisfaction in knowing that you gave everything to become the very best you are capable of.” John Wooden
Wooden’s definition of success is the simple answer to the question every single person asks in a first job in sports and the key to happiness in life.
We don’t want or need the best salesperson. We want people striving every day to get better; people who feel deep satisfaction from more than revenue or commissions.
You will always have those around who can’t succeed or hate what they do. Do not:
get sucked into the herd.
They will drag you down. Do not associate with them. Negativity spreads like a plague. Keep a positive attitude about yourself and, more importantly, your organization.
How you work with others directly affects the perception of you as a future leader.
“The theme of this industry is teamwork. You need it on and off the field, court or ice. To be successful in all cases you need to have a great game plan, be a team player, and work hard to achieve the plan or goal,” emphasizes Kelly Cheeseman, Chief Operating Officer of AEG Worldwide.
P.J. Keene, Director of Group Sales for the Houston Astros, reminds us, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” To have influence, P.J. explains, “We must lead by example, focus on more than just your numbers, and care about our team.”
In helping others get better to achieve the team’s overall goals, you brand yourself as a potential leader with a bright future. Being number one on the board is not the only thing that gets you promoted.
Five Ways to Improve
Positive attitude and teamwork are fundamental to success in the business of sports. How can we make ourselves better?
Find a Mentor
Seek out and learn from those individuals who have been there and done that. If you want to be a quarterback in the NFL, you watch Manning, Brady, or Montana. You copy throwing motion & mechanics and learn all they did to get to where you want to be. This is no different in the sportsbiz careers. Find the stars of the industry and learn from them.
There Is Nobody To Blame But Yourself
Successful people take responsibility for everything that happens to them and by them. Take responsibility for your actions. Do not blame others or the situation. No one will feel sorry for you or listen to excuses about how life is unfair.
School Is Not Over
Never stop learning. Read books on any topic that makes you better. Invest time in things that will help you succeed. And dare I say it? Turn off the TV & video games. Why waste so much time in areas unrelated to your goals?
Failure is the best teacher. Take risks. Make mistakes. The story goes that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb. When asked about this, he is quoted as saying, “I did not fail. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Have your goals in front of you. Place them on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, front door, back door, closet, anywhere you can see them. Make them an obsession. Do not give up on them.
Will the job be difficult?
Sure. Don’t give up or get discouraged. The results and money will come. Love the journey to the destination.