Efficient and effective salespeople convert ticket buyers into season ticket holders and serve their needs. However, the secondary market is the primary market for many fans who do not differentiate between buying from StubHub, TicketMaster or the team’s website. What do these buyers look like? How do they buy? Where do they buy? What is important to them?
The Online Ticket Buyer Profile infographic offers an overview of our initial findings from a wide-ranging study of 688 recent online ticket buyers of tickets. Given the time of year and panel source, we draw primarily from NFL, MLB, and NBA ticket buyers, but also have representation from NHL and a few MLS buyers. All bought tickets within the past 12 months.
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.
Research. Thoroughly research the organization prior to interview.
How is the team marketing and advertising?
How are they involved in the community?
Who are the C-level executives and managers?
Know their names and positions.
Look up their backgrounds/bios (team website, Google; LinkedIn)
Questions. Come up with at least five questions to ask about corporate culture, likes/dislikes, challenges, etc. Why? Good questions:
Should be written down.
Allow you to get FREE valuable information from someone in your career choice on how to move up and be successful in your career.
The best question a candidate asked me was, “What do you like and not like about your position?” Asked sincerely, this question showed a personal interest in me and what goes on here every day.
How important is this interview to you? If you are selected from the 100’s of resumes received, I’m assuming it should be important to you. Some of these tips are for in-person interviews, but apply the same principles for virtual interviews.
Attire: Dress professionally (suits). More on making the best first impression in the next column.
If in-person: Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Don’t show up an hour or two early.
Turn off your phone before the interview.
No, turn it off. Silent is not good enough.
Be ready to go once you step outside of the car.
Have your hair and/or makeup done before arriving.
Put your jacket on before you exit the car.
You don’t know who’s watching or who you’ll meet when or where along the way.
For virtual interviews:
Make sure whatever is in camera view sends the right signals.
Don’t locate in a noisy room.
Dress like you were doing an in-person interview (suits).
Have a padfolio and pens (and extra copies of your resume if in-person).
Some employers intentionally “forget” to bring your resume to the interview.
Someone may forget a pen.
SMILE!!! Everyone is watching you.
That person you don’t think is watching is the person who talks to the manager right after you leave.
Beware of windows – people like to observe and will give feedback.
Be courteous. Yes, the receptionist counts. Double.
Clear greeting, by last name (Mr. Smith). Do not be overly familiar until they say so.
Make eye contact during interview. (But, don’t stare the person down.)
Relax and be yourself, but remain professional regardless of interviewer’s professionalism.
Removing jacket, unbuttoning tie, etc. is not acceptable.
Be personable, but not overly excited.
Keep an engaged, positive posture – no slouching.
Don’t fidget: Biting nails, playing with hair, tapping pen, cracking knuckles, etc.
Listen to what is being asked and answer the question.
Ask for clarification if you don’t understand question.
Be confident in your answers:
Don’t answer with an upswing inflection, where the cadence of the voice rises as though every sentence ends in a question mark.
Be accountable. Everyone makes mistakes!!!!! Explain what you learned from mistakes and what you did to ensure it was not repeated.
Be able to explain gaps in employment clearly.
Never bash former employers or colleagues. This gives a clue as to how you might view your next employer and colleagues.
Closing the Interview
If you are interviewing for a sales position, they are looking for someone who can close a deal.
Close the interview.
Highlight why you are the best candidate for the position based on the needs identified during the interview.
Show how your strengths make you a good fit for the position.
Thank interviewers for their time and again give firm handshakes.
Say goodbye to the receptionist by name (s/he always counts).
S3 Spotlight on alumni and board members[/dropshadowbox]
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Many candidates applying to job postings don’t realize as soon as they click Send the interviews begin.
The minute the potential employer has your name they begin the interview process. If your background matches with qualifications, the next step often includes Googling your name and visiting social media websites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to see what they can find not readily available on the resume.
Employers may reach out to a previous employer, particularly if the candidate has previous experience in the sports industry. Always expect employers to check with your last employer or with faculty at your university if you were in a sports-related program.
This is the first in a series breaking down the interview process – what to/not do during the interview, creating and submitting your resume and cover letter, and dressing for the interview.
We’ll also address social media and networking along with some tips for success along with first year mistakes.
Let’s start with how to get the first interview with the team.
Online Resume Submission
Check for grammatical errors. For many teams one error means disqualification.
Review for consistency in formatting. Do dates line up? Is the size of bullet points the same throughout? Are all titles and company names formatted in the same way? Hint: Use tabs not space bar to align sections.
REMEMBER – you are selling yourself on paper and online first in order to get an interview.
Ring-back tones and voicemail: Appropriate vs Inappropriate
Remove and replace ringtone with personal message while job hunting
If you keep ring-back tone make sure song is not vulgar or offensive
Make sure the voicemail message is appropriate for business
YES – “Hi, you’ve reached Sally. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a brief message and I will return your call.”
NO – “Do your thang and I’ll hit you back.”
Tone of voice – Sound interested
Engaged – upbeat and happy; give thorough answers. Stand up and smile during the interview. It affects enthusiasm and comes through on the other end.
Not engaged – monotone speaking; one-word/one-line answers
Be able to speak without interruptions or distractions (e.g. loud noises, friends aren’t in the background, co-workers walking by, not while driving, etc.).
Ask to call back if necessary – interviewers will appreciate this if they catch candidates at a bad time.
Replying to Questions
Answer questions thoroughly but only answer the question asked.
DO NOT give one-word/one line replies.
Don’t talk too much–exclude your life story.
Ask Interviewer Questions. Think of 2 or 3 questions to ask because you will be asked if you have any.