To say that David J. Halberstam is a broadcast sports historian would be accurate and yet limiting in his career depiction. Halberstam wrote the definitive book Sports On New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History, has contributed many articles highlighting (and critiquing) sports broadcasters in various publications including Sports Illustrated and USA Today, and has been the play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat and St. Johns University.
But where Halberstam's greatest expertise may lie is in sports sales, the lifeblood of the sports industry.
Know that each point below is a launching point for you to learn and study more about yourself and your craft.
The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts, is a first of its kind; a step-by-step handbook on developing new sports media and sponsorship accounts. From identifying prospects to closing a piece of business and the emotional roller coaster throughout the process, they're all covered.
Corporate sports sellers go through difficult indoctrinations. Those who can withstand the early ordeals will have a fruitful career. Consider the preparation, emotions and requirements you'll face:
You’ll need to be sufficiently disarming to distract prospects and get their full attention. A cold caller is a seller, not a telemarketer. You won’t be reading repetitive scripts. You'll need to engage targets.
Have a natural eagerness to propose gripping and customized concepts to marketers at all echelons.
Research targets’ channels of distribution, their sales histories and their successes. Then work on conceptual partnership frameworks that are mutually beneficial. The proposals you structure will require authenticated data to support the ROI (return on investment).
You'll have to be a problem solver, constructing sponsorships that have many tentacles, some that are intangible and difficult to quantify. You’ll always be challenged for an answer.
Learn the clear differences between presenting to sponsors that market to other businesses and those that market to consumers and some that market to both.
Develop the depth of knowledge of your own sports property and the assets that correspond strategically with prospects’ goals. Examine the successes of prospects and prospects’ competitors. What has worked and what has not worked? Learn from both the successes and failures.
Be prepared for stimulating meetings and ponderous meetings. If you’re lucky, you’ll have more meetings than Gamblers Anonymous—with advertising agencies, sports marketers and clients. It means there’s more business in the pipeline.
Be a voracious reader. Start with the business pages and identify companies and industries. Read the industry trades and pursue those your entity can help.
A cold caller needs patience, not a good seller’s strong suit. The timeframe, the gestation to close new pieces of business, is galling. Your management has to be supportive and nurture an energized cold calling climate. Try to avoid working for companies that have a history of flaccid leadership and blithe neglect when it comes to new business.
Set projections for yourself. Beyond a financial quota, there’s a goal, whether self-imposed or prescribed by your bosses, of the number of new sales calls a day, how many email messages, how many phone calls and how much interaction on social media sites. Ultimately, your good work will earn you more face calls.
The road to success is often tormenting. You’ll be part self-psychologist, part glad-hander and part teacher.
Selling will harden you because of incessant rejection and unreturned calls. Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
As difficult as it is to cope with numbing experiences regularly, every one of them will strengthen your character. They toughen you. It almost changes your view of life, for good or bad. So, to maintain your sanity and to allow you to survive the nastiness of the workday, compartmentalize your mind. Store the cold calling experience somewhere in a lobe apart from the rest of your life.
You’ll need initiative, discipline, dogged follow-through and determination to seal the deal. If you’re young, you’ll need the look of success to strike an impression that you’re precocious. Clients can read you from the moment you cross the transom. A diaphanous smile is infectious. A taut and terse smile is disingenuous. Have success written all over you
You’ll want to get up every morning and head to work with alacrity, ready to attack every opportunity. In the office and when you’re out on calls, be obsessed. Don’t get smug and haughty after your first couple of orders. It will bite you on the behind down the road.
Targets aren’t generally the embodiment of patience and kindness. They’ll view cold calls as “interruptive marketing,” and it’s most likely the reason they choose to ignore them. Marketers will tell you that, in today’s fast-paced world, they simply don’t have the time to take unscheduled phone calls and attend extraneous meetings.
It’s easier said than done. Enthusiasm will sometimes be tempered by reality. You will always need some strong fight in you to survive tough stretches. As difficult as it is, maintain a single-minded determination and unshakable commitment. Work smart.
Don't bring your personal issues with you on calls or to the office. When you’re making your pitch, brim with enthusiasm. The pioneer and popular baseball announcer Red Barber always called games under the mantra of ‘leave your problems at home.’ The audience, he said, doesn’t care. Neither do your prospects or colleagues.
You’re like a Broadway actor who’s doing the same show for the 50th time. The audience doesn’t know it’s your 50th performance. You have to make the audience feel like it’s your first. Sound fresh.
When you really get down, think of a young lady like Uzma Rawn who cold called Moda Health and sold it the naming rights to the Rose Garden in Portland. It earned her a spot on Forbes' Top 30 under 30 in sports. It also earned her a healthy commission.
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