An Inside Look at Recruiting for Sales Jobs in Sports with Mike Judge, Manager of Inside Sales and Recruiter for the Cleveland Browns.
Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast.
I try really hard to avoid the “back when I was first getting started” type stories, because let’s be honest, I got started in the sports industry in 1996 and a lot has changed since then. What happened pre-cell phones doesn’t hold that much relevance to today, and I recognize that.
But there is something that can’t be denied, and still exists today. It’s the tribal mentality of the sports industry, this deep community that when you are in it, feels like you are part of some interconnected web with secret handshakes and unspoken bonds.
When I first started at CNN Sports, back in the grunge era and when Dennis Rodman wore a wedding dress to promote his book, there were let’s say 200-250 employees of our sports network. We spent our days in our hamster cage, literally just a pane of glass between us and the CNN tour mongers walking the halls.
But what we really did was watch and report on sports, all day and all night. While our other college friends were accountants and consultants, pushing spreadsheets and furnishing their cubicles, we built a community around sports debates, home run jars and other sports themed tom foolery.
It was the best of times…and if you ask me, it’s one of the great reasons to work in sports, the sense of mania that comes from working around an industry that personifies entertainment.
I was reminded of these times in my career as I spoke to this weeks guest Mike Judge, Recruiter and Manager of Inside Sales for the Cleveland Browns
. Mike shares the same stories about passion and enthusiasm that he has with his sales staff with the Browns.
He talks about their community and how they have work to do and they take that seriously, but they also have fun together. They run contents, they have wing nights, they go out for drinks with the staffs of other pro teams in town.
Because they have that bond, that like experience, a commonality that can link them all together.
Mike has built a culture that isn’t dependent on the success of the team, but rather the eagerness of the staff. They go at challenges with fervor and live to share and bathe in the successes.
So let’s get to it – here’s Mike Judge Recruiter & Manager of Inside Sales for the Cleveland Browns.
Questions For Mike Judge, Manager of Inside Sales and Recruiter for the Cleveland Browns
I checked right before I came into this interview and of the 7,000 active jobs we currently have posted on WorkinSports.com
– 3280 have the word sales in them. While I’m no math whiz, that’s near 48% of the available sports jobs.
As a recruiter for sales jobs with the Browns, do you feel there is enough emphasis on sales and business principles in today’s college curriculum? Are students prepared for the reality of the sports industry – that most of the jobs are in sales?
I think people get confused by all the options in sales jobs - there are jobs in inside sales, group sales, premium sales, sponsorship sales, account executive jobs – can you briefly explain the different roles, where someone starts, and the basic career path someone would expect?
From what I understand there is a high level of turnover in inside sales jobs, as a recruiter with the Browns you are likely on the hunt for talented new people to add to your sales force all the time – so tell us, what are you looking for and what do you value most in a potential hire?
So let’s say I graduate college, I have the skills and attitude you want to see, and you hire me to work in inside sales – what does my day to day look like?
I get this question all the time, but as a recruiter you are probably better equipped to answer it than I am – If someone applies for a job with you, when and how is it appropriate to follow up? Or should they follow up at all?
As someone who gives advice to sports jobs seekers, I get frustrated when people seem uninterested in sports sales jobs. Sales jobs seem to have a negative connotation to many. You speak in college classrooms, you recruit out there in the community – how do you convince people a job in sports sales is a great career?
We have a private Facebook group for fans of this podcast, right now there are about 250 people in there and they are a passionate group of people looking to break into the sports world. Before every interview I ask them what they’d like me to ask, and then I pick a few of the best to sprinkle in…so here goes – Matt Williamson wants to know what strategies you use to motivate your team when on-field performance isn’t where you’d hope it would be?
Another one this time from Jacob Hanzlik – When you are out there recruiting for the inside sales staff with the Browns, what type of past work experiences are you looking for? Is experience selling outside of the sports industry still valuable?
Last one from Casey Dehart – in your view what are the key traits or characteristics that make someone successful in sports sales?
Back to me – something I’ve been curious about, you think of sales people as having the Glengarry Glen Ross ‘always be closing’ mentality. Am I dating myself with that reference? Anyway, sales people are always depicted with a phone glued to their ear…but in today's world, how much does social media and other developing technologies change the way you sell products?
1: Let’s say someone has just 12 hours to spend in Cleveland and they have to make a choice – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Cleveland Museum of Art…which should they go to?
2: How much crossover is there with the other sports teams in town – do the Cleveland Cavs inside sales team go out for drinks with the Browns – or is that a no-no to fraternize with the competition?
3: On game day – where do you watch from? bb
4: Better movie: Draft Day with Kevin Costner playing the Browns GM, or ‘The Express’ a 2008 film about Ernie Davis the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy who later went on to play for the Browns -- which I have never seen but is the only other movie about the Browns I could find.
5: Last one -- Cleveland is known for it’s polish influenced food – I’m a big fan of perogies, but I’m reading about this Polish Boy sandwich that Cleveland is famous for – what’s the deal there?
For everyone out there looking to break into sports from another industry, I hope you were listening. Mike made it very clear, he’s looking for people who can sell, who want to sell, who are motivated to sell, you don’t have to have worked in sports before.
If you are looking to transfer to the sports industry from some other world, to be part of that community of sports crazed individuals, this is your ticket into the game. Get in there, get your feet wet and see how it works for you.
And for all of you in college looing to make yoru start – please recognize this, almost every powerful sports executive I have worked with, talked to, interviewed or interviewed with, has some level of sales experience on their resume. Building that connection to revenue creation is a smart choice for your career.
These jobs are out there and available – so what are you waiting for.
Big thanks to Mike Judge – what a great guest – and he’s also in our private Facebook group answering fan questions – maybe you should get in there too!