53% of Jobs in the Sports Industry Require This Skill
53% of Jobs in the Sports Industry Require This Skill
By Brian Clapp | March 23, 2016
As I begin composing this article there are 5,939 sports jobs currently listed on our job board. Guess how many have the word “sales” in them? (more on that in a minute)
Say the word “sales” and the first thing that comes to mind for many is being aggressively approached by someone in an ill-fitting polo shirt on a used car lot, a stranger on your doorstep peddling things you don’t need or getting cold called during dinner.
We are talking about sports sales jobs, a career that uses multiple disciplines of business including marketing, research, analytics, customer service and economics.
“My sports sales job as at Cal Athletics entails so much more than what some people envision sales to be,” says account executive Angela Deeb. “My primary objective is to keep our fans happy. We’re not only in sales; we are service reps for our current season ticket holders, available to them for anything that they need in or out of season.
“We also work with groups helping with fundraising for their churches, or recreational sports teams, hosting charity events prior to sporting events, holding career fairs for anyone looking to break into the industry and more. We are there on game day, bringing our big groups out on the court to high five the basketball team, or run the bases after the baseball games – which I think is one of the coolest things about this job - putting a huge smile on kid’s faces when they get to be a part of the game day experience.
“Cold calling and door to door sales is not what working in sports sales is really like.”
Back to that initial question – how many of our current sports jobs have the word sales in the description? Drum roll...3,155! 53% of the jobs currently active in the sports industry require some form of sales.
Want to work in sports? The recipe couldn't be clearer.
For more on how to develop a sports sales career, here’s Cal Athletics account executive Angela Deeb:
As we just demonstrated, a huge percentage of jobs in the sports industry relate to sales - why do you think there are more sports sales jobs than just about any other segment in the sports industry?
Deeb: There are more sports sales jobs than any other segment in the industry because sales are the fundamentals behind any business; it's the "get your foot into the door" step.
However, just like sales in any other industry, it also has the most turnover. People often progress from sales onto other positions within sports, or utilize their experience & land jobs elsewhere.
What do you believe is the most important skill someone should develop to be able to make it in the sports industry, and more specifically in sales?
Deeb: For anyone to be able make it in the sports industry, I would say they need to be tough.
You work a lot of hours, with a lot of people - there are going to be upset fans you’ll have to deal with if a game or season isn't going well. You can’t let any of that get to you.
In addition to toughness, when it comes to sales you need to have confidence. You’re not going to make a sale to every single person you talk to – if you did, they wouldn't need you in a sales position in the first place. There will be people that want nothing to do with your product, but you can’t let that get you down for the next sale or meeting. You have to remain confident in your product and in yourself and you will be a great sales person.
Let’s talk about how you broke into the sales side of the sports industry - you graduated from Villanova with a degree in business and marketing - did you always want to work in sports, or did you fall into an opportunity and decide to run with it?
Deeb: Neither, actually. It was while I was at Villanova that I realized I wanted to get into the Sports and Entertainment Industry but it wasn't something that I had thought about before that.
The Villanova School of Business (VSB) offered a field trip of Lincoln Financial Field during my junior year. They only took the first 30 people who signed up, so it was an intimate experience. We got a tour of the entire stadium, heard from various managers about how they got to where they were, and had a Q & A session with them.
It was after that day that I realized how much I wanted to work within the industry.
While in college you interned with Comcast Spectacor, owner of the now Wells Fargo Complex in Philadelphia, what did that experience entail and how did it improve you as a prospective employee?
Deeb: I began interning with Comcast- Spectacor my 2nd semester senior year of college. Since I was interning for the complex and not a specific sports team, the experience really entailed anything and everything.
Some of my duties included:
Grassroots marketing for the Wings Lacrosse team,
Shooting t-shirts out from the t-shirt gun at the games
Helping the marketing managers with promotions at concerts
We even had a sales contest among the intern class for selling tickets to our college friends for Friday evening games.
Any time extra work needed to be done – I was always one of the first to volunteer, most of the time before I even knew what it was that I was volunteering for!
It improved me as a prospective employee because in volunteering for everything I met a lot of people within the company that under normal circumstances I wouldn't have had the chance. I learned the basics of the industry from being around it every day, asking my managers a lot of question and for projects to do, and basically learning the ins and outs of working in an arena.
Transitioning from an internship to an actual full-time job isn't easy, but you leveraged your internship experience to land a full-time job after graduation with Comcast Spectacor - how did you do it? What tips can you pass along for anyone looking to turn an internship into a job?
Deeb: I was in a unique situation when I was interning for Comcast-Spectacor. It was spring of 2009, in the height of the economic recession so they were actually on a hiring freeze at the time. I had been asking around at the tail end of my internship if there was another one that I could take on or anything that I could do to stick around the arena.
One of my managers kept an eye out for me and I started interning for the Director of Spectrum Closure for a few days a week after I graduated. I was willing to intern or volunteer in any department necessary to make sure that I could continue working in the arena.
I was still interning once the hiring freeze stopped, and had known my previous boss from my first intern class and kept in touch with him. He hired me as soon as he got the green light to take on another account executive.
So you would say staying present and willing to do anything helped you transition from internship to employee, even during one of the worst economic times our country has faced?
Deeb: Yes, absolutely. For anyone looking to land a job after an internship, I would say my number one piece of advice is that you cannot be picky.
A lot of people look at working in the sports industry and want to be a general manager or a social media director right out of school. You have to start somewhere, anywhere that is offered to you really to get your foot in the door and you can move around or move up from there.
Almost every single manager, director, or CEO I have met in the industry started as an intern and took the first job in the industry that was offered to them.
After 4 successful years at Comcast Spectacor - you moved cross country to work in the Cal Bears Athletic department as an account executive - why the change?
Deeb: At Comcast-Spectacor I was working as a Family Show and Concert Account Executive. I focused on events like Disney on Ice, the Circus, Harlem Globetrotters, and VIP concert tickets.
When the opportunity presented itself to work for the Athletic Department for the #1 public institution in the country – I had to jump on it. I get to work with college football, volleyball, softball, baseball and basketball! There is year round excitement, not to mention being back on a college campus and getting to work within the high energy of a collegiate athletic department every day is awesome.
It motivates us every day.
What would you say is the biggest benefit of working for a collegiate athletic department?
Deeb: I would have to say having the opportunity to expand my skill set. I get to work with so many different sports and there is always so much going on around here – multiple events almost daily. I get to experience fundraising, selling, client services, game day experiences etc.
It keeps me on my toes and I love that aspect of the job.
Sales jobs encompass much more than just traditional "selling" - what disciplines do you use most often from your college education?
Deeb: We are absolutely using market research and marketing every single day.
We are looking out for groups of people, besides the obvious past purchasers or sports fanatics, to come down and spend their day or evening with us at an event. You have to think outside the box about some of the people that you are going to reach out to. When you reach out to those people, you may have to dig a little for them to think about how the football game I am calling them about would be the perfect outing for their group to bond and have a great time together.
After you research these groups, you have to market your product.
If I am reaching out to a church group that has never done an off-site event, they may need a bit more of an explanation of the event, and an idea of what a great experience it will be for their group, over say, a past season ticket holder who knows what to expect in an event they have attended before.
Bottom line, working in sports sales challenges me mentally every day, it’s so much more than most people assume it to be.
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