My past few articles have drawn an enormous amount of emails. I am excited to find that so many of you want to be in or currently are in a sales role. So many have reached out to me to ask what is the best first step or what is the best next step? The question is, what is it you want?
The key to a sports sales job is in interviewing the interviewer. What exactly is happening in the conversation? Are they ‘selling you’ on the position? Is it about why it is the best? Or is it about understanding you?
In sales, it’s all about the customer. Why should it be any different when interviewing? When my daughter was going off to college, she became quite good at interviewing those she was interviewing with. I remember her at one prestigious college in the area, and while the VP was busy selling her on the college, she simply asked “what are you going to do to help me be successful in my future career?” He went back to selling her on the college. She responded with “I learn best in a smaller environment where I get to know my teachers and can ask for help if I need it. Am I one of many or am I considered an individual who wants to learn? If I get stuck, will someone coach me if I reach out?” Needless to say, she didn’t end up going there. Not because of her questions, but because he couldn’t come up with answers.
Let’s look at your interview. There’s the usual: tell me about yourself. Why should you have this position? Why should we invest in you? And in some instances, a video is required to make sure you can walk and chew gum at the same time. And then you get accepted…or rejected. Somewhere in there they asked if you had questions. What do you ask? How do you ask it? What is most important to you?
On the flip side, you go in headstrong for all the wrong reasons. This is not a recipe for success, but rather a recipe for failure on your side and the team side. Know why you are going into this as a career. So many have told me “I’m starting in sales so I can get into Community Relations.” It’s different out there now. Your opportunities to switch will most likely not be there. Each area is it’s own. If you are going into sales, go into it to be a true sales person. Build your career on it. If you want to be in Marketing, then ask what it takes to get into a marketing role. Most teams want someone with experience, so perhaps you will be working at a college marketing first or an ad agency marketing. Take the steps you need to define the career you want.
With all the emails I’ve received in the past 2 weeks, virtually every single one has told me two different things: that they want to go to a team that will train…and continue training, and they know what team they want to go to because….
Let’s look at some of the options:
- I only want to go to major league teams because if I don’t start there, I’ll never get there. Ask yourself: Am I just enamored with the thought of major leagues or do I truly want to work in sports? Minor league teams offer a tremendous potential to learn, grow AND move up to GM. They also give you the opportunity to prepare for that job at a major league team. Don’t discount them. Most care about you and give you multiple opportunities to learn new things.
- XXX is one of my favorite teams and I just have to work there. Teams don’t hire fans…or they shouldn’t. It’s very hard to be objective when a fan. You can be a fan of the sport, but not a passionate fan of the team. I’ve known people that get into conversations with potential clients for an hour or more because they get more into the team, how they are playing, the acquisitions, etc. instead of the value of their purchase. There’s a fine line between fandom and respect for a sport.
- They’re a winning team. I want to work there! Just my opinion, but some of the best teams you will work for are those on a losing streak. Why? In most highly successful teams, you are not selling but rather order taking. It’s easier to talk about the team, get them to agree, and ultimately sell. But take a team that has a not so good record, and you will be taught how to truly sell. NOW you are a salesperson. Same with teams that are new and just starting…these are more an order taking position. 3 years after that team is in place, you actually learn what selling is about.
- I want to learn, but not sure how much training they will give me. So why not ask that? What is your training program? How often do you train? Do you bring in someone? Is it in house only? If you bring in someone, do you bring in more people than one throughout the year? Is it re-enforced? Just like my daughter, what are you going to do to help me become the best I can be? I have had people go into inside sales positions where they started with a training, and then no training after and they were 6 months into it. This is not a one and done. You NEED training in inside sales, and it’s a specific type of training. You need training no matter the level.
- We seem to do the same training all the time and I need something more. Ask for it. Define it. If you are moving on to a new team, ask how they view training. What ‘level’ training will you be at? There is no ‘one size fits all.’ There is a basic for inside sales. There is a mid level for AE’s. And then there is the All Star type training that helps you be the best you can be, and also ready for that management spot you want. Where are they in trainings? Do they utilize all 3 depending on what level you are? Do you fit with their philosophy on training?
Never stop learning. When you do, it’s time to move on in your career. We all learn, each and every day. Start a journal. What did YOU learn today that helped you communicate better, or close a sale better, or asked questions better. Learn that one thing every day.
This is your career. Make sure you approach it that way. It should never be “I hope I get a job there,” but rather, “I will take the steps to make sure I am making the right decisions and going to the team that is best for me.” It’s work. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it WILL happen with the right approach and the right mindset. And when it does, it will be a win for both you AND the team.
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
Have reps to get to that “All Star” level? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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