Philicia Douglas, New Orleans Saints & Pelicans Manager of Inside Sales

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkinSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

For the last year you’ve heard me talk about the decline in sales jobs in sports. This is not breaking news, rather an obvious reality based on all of us being in the grips of a global pandemic that restricts public gatherings.   

No tickets to sell, no suites to sell, no group packages,  fewer sponsorships, less in-stadium marketing activations — this result is clear. Revenue was lost. Lots of it. Jobs were furloughed, lots of them. 

Sales, as a sector of the industry, a dominant sector of the industry, was hit the hardest by far.  

But let’s put some numbers on that, rather than just logical conclusions.

According to Team Marketing Report, a sports business intelligence firm, The Washington Football Team, it is estimated, lost 124 million dollars in unrealized game-day revenue.

To put that in perspective, if you add up the 2020 contracts of 

  • Alex Smith
  • Landon Collins
  • Kendall Fuller 
  • Morgan Moses
  • Chase Young  

Arguably, their 5 best players, You get 63.8 million. They lost 124 million minimum. 

That was tops in the NFL, who TMR estimated lost 2.7 billion as a whole. 

Those calculations, that 124 million in game day revenue losses, does not include the hit to other revenue streams like suites leases, secondary market ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, media rights, non-NFL events, revenue sharing, off-site sales, licensing, or preseason and postseason money.

The amount of revenue lost by sports teams is staggering. 

NBA – $694 million in unrecognized game day revenue

MLB – $5.2 billion! 162 games cut down to 60 without fans… big hit. 

All of this is to say – as I tell my kids – save your money, you don’t know when things are going to turn upside down and you’ll need that buffer. 

Actually, what this is realy to say, although saving money is a good tip – is that it’s easy to see why sports jobs plummeted.

BUT — as Kali Franklin VP of HR at NYCFC said in last week’s podcast episode, a business that isn’t hiring talented people, isn’t growing. 

The sports industry is finding its footing and hiring again. We aren’t back to normal, far from it, but we are finding new ways to emerge. 

What is amazing to me, in the face of all these losses, is that so many of the businesses I have spoken to recently are proud of the fact that they didn’t lay off any staff. Clearly many of you lost your jobs, I’ve heard from so many of your personally and I hurt for you, but let this be a marker in the moment — hiring is coming back, numbers are on the rise, and teams, leagues, sports tech firms, sports websites, athlete marketers and more and hiring people like you.

Back in November, I saw a LinkedIn post from today’s guest, Philici Douglas, Manager of Inside Sales for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, and it caught my eye.   

If you are a graduating senior or already graduated from college I want to get to know you! If you are looking to work in sales in sports I am going to begin hosting interviews for our Inside Sales Consultant positions. Book a time on my calendar below. 

Seeing this, not just the aggressive approach, but the hiring signal as if she was saying — we’re open for business, was a light at the end of a pretty crappy tunnel. 

Right then I said — let’s get her on the show! So here she is Philicia Douglas, Manager of inside Sales for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans.

Questions for Philicia Douglas, New Orleans Saints & Pelicans Manager of Inside Sales – Sports Sales Jobs: Yes, We’re Hiring!

1: Let’s get into it! There is so much I want to get into with you on your career and how you got where you are, but let’s start in the now. 

2020 was a mess. Sales jobs were a mess. But in December, I saw a glimmer of hope in the form of a linkedin post from you basically saying, “you want to work in sales? We’re hiring!” 

What has this last year been like for you, and where do you feel we sit right now as an industry?

2: I have to tell you, something really interesting happened yesterday, a long-time listener of our show emailed me to say he had just been hired by the Saints and Pelicans Inside Sales team, and I was like “whoa, I’m interviewing your new boss tomorrow!”

What was the process like hiring staff with the Pelicans and Saints – was it different than usual? More candidates? Higher qualifications, more competition? How did this feel to you?

3: Working with you in inside sales for an NBA team on the rise and an NFL team near the top is an awesome job in itself. I’m guessing you had many, many interested applicants. 

How do you identify and find the right people for your organization and culture? What makes someone stand out to you in the process?  

4: Let’s talk about the actual sales process – I tell people all the time, 50% of the jobs in the sports industry are connected to sales, so it makes a lot of sense to start there. But I ask you – can salespeople be created through training and teaching, or are there innate abilities and traits that must be present for success?

5: Your current teams are two of the hottest, most interesting teams in sports. From Zion to Brees and everywhere in between. When you sell tickets, do you focus more on the athletes people can identify with? the overall experience? or is it something else entirely?

6: We’ve seen the data; traditional sports are losing some of the younger fans. Does this concern you, and if so, how do we get them back?

7: When I was growing up, I used to take the train into Boston and see Celtics games, Bruins games, got to Fenway and see the Red Sox – and then I would be glued to the game and my seat. 

Today’s fans seem different. 

They have a different expectation for the game experience. Fans wander the arena, they jump on their phone, they sit at the bar, they take some selfies – how important is it to really understand the personas of your fanbase and know what they really want from the experience?

8: Speaking of personas – you work for both the Saints and the Pelicans, do you find the fanbases to be very different, or are New Orleans sports fans dedicated in the same way across their teams?

9: Let’s go back a bit to your start – you graduated from Florida Atlantic, then went to USF and got your MBA, got your Master’s in Sports and Entertainment Management – so what was your plan at this time? Did you always have a vision and goal of working in sports sales, or was all this unexpected?

10: You started with the Miami Dolphins -ticket sales, group sales, club, and corporate packages – you kept working your way up the ladder selling more and more valuable products. And then you left to go to the AAF to be the Director of Ticket Sales with the Atlanta Legends – was the main motivation a chance to manage? 

Follow – what were the big “Ah-ha” moments as you went from individual contributor to manager of people?

11: We all know the AAF didn’t last – but what do you take away from that experience?

12: It didn’t take you long to land on your feet, with the Saints and Pelicans you manage 17 sales reps. Not easy. 

I saw last week on LinkedIn where you gave a shout out to one of your staffers for being the Inside Sales Leader of the Month. Is that a big part of managing, learning how to motivate, and celebrate your staff, making sure they know they are valued?

13: We’ll finish up with this – our audience is full of people trying to figure out their path in the sports industry, stand out, get hired, and fulfill their dream of working in the sports industry – as you look back through your career and experience, what advice would you share with someone starting that journey?

Sports Sales Jobs: Yes, We’re Hiring! Clip from Philicia Douglas on the Work in Sports podcast

Philicia Douglas didn’t want to work in sports sales, now she loves it:

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

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