Why Working in Sales is Your Ticket Into the Sports Industry

By Brian Clapp | June 12, 2015
sports sales ticket sales
Think there is pressure working in ticket sales? How does 18,238 empty seats look to you?
One of the true advantages of working in sports is the unpredictable nature of the business. In the blink of an eye a trade occurs, an injury happens or a big win or loss changes things, not just for the team, but for the businesses that survive off the team.

“I believe that’s the best part about working in sports, I don’t think a normal day does exist,” says Corey Breton, Senior Director of New Ticket Sales for the Atlanta Hawks.  “Change can and does occur at any time and it completely alters the landscape with which you’re currently operating under.

Professional sports is one of the most gratifying, rewarding, and challenging industries to work in and I couldn't imagine doing anything else.”

For more on working in sports sales, here’s Corey Breton:

What is the best way for someone to learn the skills necessary to be a good salesperson? 

Breton: I strongly believe in a structured, systematic, formulated approach to sales.  Structure makes the process habit forming, making the consultants more comfortable with the process, and in turn more confident, leading to better results.  Additionally, sales is a never ending quest for improvement and knowledge, so continuous training and investing in themselves is a must.

It seems people either find great success working in sales, or flame out quickly… what is the main difference between those people? 

Breton: My personal belief is the ability to persevere through difficult times and believe in the process.  Not everyone excels at the same rate, and you must believe in the process and focus on controlling those items that you can control such as effort, attitude, and remaining coachable.

I've never seen a person fail that puts forth consistent effort over the long haul.

You've been a presenter at the “Sports Sales Combine” in the past – what is the message you try to provide attendees interested in a career in sales? 

Breton: The primary message, and or the primary purpose of a sports sales combine is to provide attendees with a glimpse into the real world of sales.  I’d rather have a person invest three days into a combine, find out it’s not for them, then move across country to join an inside sales class and find out one month later that it’s not a fit.

What are the skills necessary to take someone from entry level sales to a more senior role?

sports sales combine corey breton
Corey Breton addressing the participants of a recent Sports Sales Combine session
Breton: I actually don’t believe that the skills change.  I am a proponent that the same traits and characteristics that you made you successful when you were 13 will continue to make you successful when you’re 33.

If you can maintain your drive, determination, work ethic, passion, optimism, and pursuit of excellence throughout your career, than I believe that you’ll always find a way to succeed.

I feel as if most people have these traits, but somewhere along the line they lose their passion to continue fighting, and become complacent and comfortable with just surviving.

How big of a role does analytics play in understanding sales metrics? And how did you learn these skills? 

Breton: It plays a huge role in our dynamic and variable pricing strategy for membership, flex plans, group sales, and single game channel.

This has been one of the biggest changes in our business in the last 3-5 years, as data is driving decisions more than ever.  There is so much to learn and improve upon, but I only see this area becoming even more vital moving forward.

As for me personally, I've been blessed to work for the Atlanta Hawks, one of the most progressive teams in this space.  We have a dedicated team of five analysts to help us on pricing and lead management.

Do you believe professional teams are doing all they can with social media? Or is there still more to do and learn, especially on the business ops side? 

Breton: There is a lot to learn.  As it stands today, a Nielsen rating doesn't exist to track or measure the effectiveness of a twitter campaign.  Lots of upside exists in this area of the business, but at the end of the day I don’t foresee social media replacing any of other existing channels, only enhancing what we already currently do.

You’re in the midst of getting your masters in sports management – what are some of the most important skills you've learned while getting an advanced degree? 

Breton: I am currently one year into the program, and it has been one of the best experiences thus far.  It’s exceeded my expectations, as I've not only gained knowledge, but the relationships I've formed with my classmates has been phenomenal.

With me only working in sales throughout my career, I often didn't have access to other areas outside of sales, and the program at Ohio University has broadened my skill set and provided me with a better understanding of these spaces.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to attend Ohio University’s Professional Masters in Sports Administration (PMSA) program and I would recommend it to anyone looking to broaden their skill set.

Why was getting your Masters important to you? 

Breton: For me it was about long-term growth.  When I am done working in professional sports I would love to transition to academia and teach at the college level.  My thought process was that by attending Ohio University it would put me in the best possible position to achieve that goal when the time came.

Additionally, sports is an extremely competitive field, and if I want to continue grow and gain upward mobility I believe that the PMSA program could end up being the differentiating factor.

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