Carl Manteau: Chicago Blackhawks Senior Director of Group Sales - Work In Sports Podcast

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

Well, I’m not often one to get into self-aggrandizement -- ok, maybe a little - but I have to say this is a pretty proud day. 

On September 9th, 2017 we launched this podcast with the intention of helping guide young professionals into sports careers. We aimed to share advice, insider knowledge, seasoned perspectives, and cover the journey of hundreds of careers and organizations. 



The first-ever guest on the Work in Sports podcast -- and some of your old schoolers who have been here from the beginning -- Scott MacDonald, Jake Kernen, James Ebo, Kelsey Smith, Carlton Robie, Dasmine Evans, Gary Pinson, and others I’m forgetting and sorry -- probably remember it was Carl Manteau then Senior Director of Group Sales for the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Today is episode 300 of the show. Alright, slight confession it;’s actually 301, my math didn’t line up as I had planned but don’t get lost in the details, I’m on a roll here. 

Three years ago, Carl and I talked about the journey into sports from inside sales, today we talk about new subjects like mental health through a pandemic, group sales when there are no groups to sell to, and developing culture in a world that is distant and through computer screens. 

Now, while that sounds depressing -- it is not. Carl is one of the most positive, insightful, and motivating people I know. He paints a picture of light with his words, sharing ideas that can make this time productive, efficient, and set us all up for future success. 

He highlights the good things, like the positive culture of working in sports, and how we can support one anothers mental health with simple gestures. This is a podcast of positivity, rooted in reality - we aren’t painting unicorns on the ceiling, we’re seeing the silver inside the grey. 

Here’s my guy, Carl Manteau, who is now the Senior Director of Group Sales for the Chicago Blackhawks..


Questions For Carl Manteau, Chicago Blackhawks Senior Director of Group Sales   


1: The returning champion! 

In February, you left the Milwaukee Bucks, an organization you had been with for almost 7 years, to join the Chicago Blackhawks as Senior Director of Group Sales. 

What has it been like starting with a new organization and having the entire world turn upside down just a few weeks after starting?

2: For a decade or longer I’ve been telling young people, if you want to work in sports look to sales, that is where the opportunities are. In February we had 25,000 jobs on – around 12,000 of those, almost 50%, were in sales. 

We dropped down to 8k jobs in April, and now we are back up to 16k.

But only 622 are in sales. 

What do we tell all the young professionals who were listening to guys like us say they should work in sales, and now there are either no jobs for them, or they lost the one they had? What advice can we give them now?

3: I know you can’t predict the future – but the NHL is in its playoff bubble right now, and it looks like the next season will start in December versus the normal October start. 

Has the conversation shifted to “how” to bring fans back into the arena versus “if” you can bring fans back?

4:  Things have likely settled down a bit now as we’ve hit the 7th overtime of our global pandemic, but I keep picturing the early scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise is frantically calling his clients trying to retain them with little luck. 

I envision this is what it was like for most salespeople in the first few months of COVID, trying to call their big groups and premium clients to settle their fears, or respond to their questions – am I on track, as it pretty crazy?

5: It’s strange, in this time of social distance and isolation I’ve talked to hundreds of professionals in marketing, operations, technology and social media -- and they’ve all told me about being part of group zoom calls across organizations and leagues where the community exchange of ideas is vibrant. 

Are you seeing the same thing – a collective “hey, I don’t care that you work for my competitor, let’s connect and chat through some ideas?” 

6: One of the things I love about you is that you are an avid writer who shares insight and opinions with anyone willing to listen. That’s why you were my first guest, I knew you had valuable advice to share and that has never stopped. 

You just published an article on LinkedIn this week I found fascinating – you titled it “Selling Groups When You Can’t Gather” pretty solid headline work by the way.

Why were you inspired to share on this particular subject?

7: You break the current status of group sales into three components: Prioritize, Examine, Act – let’s start with Prioritize, why is this a point of emphasis right now in sales? 

8: The next component is Examine, and I think this is your favorite section because you went into great detail with many ideas and concepts – is that the one benefit of this current pandemic, you have a little more time to evaluate systems and processes to set your team up for future success?

9: We don’t often associate creativity with sales – but really in your discussion on Examining the business of group sales, you are really talking about creative solutions to ongoing problems. Coming up with new events, new value adds, new pricing plans, new staffing and roles – 

Is creativity the most valuable attribute amongst organizational leaders right now?

10: Your final section focused on a commitment to Act – but you also made clear your suggestion  to control the controllables – how important is this idea to stay focused on what you can accomplish versus what is out of your control?

11: We’ll finish up with this -- Salespeople are always very focused on the joy and fulfillment they can bring to others. Service and entertainment, that’s what every salesperson I talk to loves – seeing the people they sell to in a high five line, or on the court, or just loving their game day experience. 

How can salespeople, who gain energy from this positivity, maintain their own mental health during this time?

By Brian Clapp | August 19, 2020
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