“Be willing to sell.”
I heard that statement countless times over the course of completing my graduate degree program in Sport Management at UMass (go Minutemen!), and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t alone. In fact, I’d wager that every sports business-minded grad student and undergrad at UMass heard the same thing day after day… as has pretty much anyone else who’s studied sport management, and/or tried to break in to sports business. Heck, I’ve told plenty of aspiring sports business executives the very same thing, and that’s because it’s true – often, the (comparatively) easiest way to get your foot in the door in sports business (especially on the property side) is to become a ticket sales rep.
As such, it’s not surprising that the majority of ticket sales reps are young. Many are fresh out of school. This reality definitely has its benefits – in general, I think it’s safe to say that members of this group are often very eager, competitive, aggressive, forward-thinking, technologically savvy, and (importantly) willing to work long hours for relatively low pay.
However, are teams short-changing themselves when they staff up their sales teams exclusively with fresh, young guns?
I say yes, for one reason: the undeniable importance of diversity.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve gone from being a single grad student to a married mother of one. During that period, I’ve fit squarely into multiple unique “lifestyle groups” (or, for those using Acxiom designations, “PersonicX Clusters”). At each of those stages of life, my ticket-purchasing needs varied drastically. What was appealing to me as a member of a dual-earning unmarried couple (say, a pair of good seats to a dozen Phillies night games) was much different that what I find appealing now (i.e., tickets to a handful of day games in a section that can accommodate a stroller and diaper bag).
It’s true a good sales rep, no matter what his/her age, could probably ‘sell’ me successfully today even if that individual was my complete opposite in gender, life stage, income, etc. – that is, after all, their job. However, the person best suited to pitch me is probably someone like me, a woman in her 30s juggling work and parenthood, who’s interested in spending money on family entertainment but wants to know why she should buy Phillies tickets as opposed to, say, a membership to the Philadelphia Zoo.
For this reason, I think it would behoove all ticket sales teams to diversify: hire those recent graduates, sure, but complement them with part- and full-time staff at other life stages: younger parents, middle aged men, senior women, etc. By covering all of your bases gender- and age-wise, you’re giving your team the best chance to truly identify with (and, thus, effectively understand and sell specifically to) your entire market.
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