4 things I learned in my first year working in ticket sales

by james tarner - sales associate at sacramento republic fc
June 11, 2019

My first year of ticket sales was up and down, with a lot of success and even more failure. When I look back at the year, I gave myself a hard look in the mirror and tried to figure out exactly what went right, and why some things went wrong.

To pin my thoughts down to one overarching topic it would be this: sales is a marathon, not a sprint. One big sale isn’t going to fill your stadium, and it’s not going to hit your goal. It takes constant dedication, improvement and refining your process to become successful. Many times, doing little things that don’t show up on the score sheet will guide you to your goal.

Whether you’re a seasoned seller overseeing new sales reps, just starting your first job in ticket sales or a college senior that is about to graduate, I hope this can give you some insight into what I learned in my first year in sport sales!

1. You get out what you put in

Sales isn’t brain surgery. You don’t need to be the most talented person in the room to be successful. Early on, it’s more important to have constant improvement in your day-to-day process, sales strategy, and in the management of your pipeline. As my manager always says, good days lead to good weeks, good weeks lead to good months, and good months lead to good years.

For me, this was diagnosing every good and bad call, and learning from the successes/failures. If you are dedicated to getting better on the phone, face-to-face, or even sending great emails, you will become a better sales rep. Sales isn’t for everyone, and it isn't easy, but it's an industry where you have a ton of control over your personal improvement.

2. Find your why

Sales is a job where you will question yourself. You will certainly have bad days, and you will most likely have a time period where you can’t find a sale no matter what you do. In these tough times, you need to have a reason that keeps you pushing forward.

It’s okay if you don’t know your why. I recommend taking time and asking yourself “why am I in ticket sales?”  Even if you haven’t found your why, give yourself a long-term goal. I didn’t get into ticket sales to sell season tickets, groups and partial plans for the rest of my life and I’m sure you didn’t either. When things are tough, remind yourself why you’re going through these tough times, and hold yourself accountable to reaching your long-term goal.

3. Outlearn and outgrow everyone around you

I’m a huge fan of learning. In my opinion, I think it’s the single most important tool you have in your first year of ticket sales. You need to be learning new things consistently if you want to grow your career.

Learning is something completely within your control. Whether it’s reading sales articles, books, blogs, watching webinars and seeking advice from your peers, these are all ways to help you perform at your highest level. It may not show up in the call reports or on sales boards but take pride in being the most dedicated sales rep within your organization.

4. Take the road less traveled

I hope you’re as lucky as I am to have a great culture in the office and a great group of people all working towards the same goal, but it can be easy to get caught up in leaving work exactly on time to get that happy hour deal outside of the office.

It’s okay to occasionally miss out on the drinks/food with your co-workers. This is your first year in the industry, and it’s your time to lay the groundwork for the rest of your career. You didn’t start a career in sales to have a new group of friends. Have fun when the time is right but be conscious of your brand and how senior management views you.

Get in early, stay late, and volunteer for anything thrown your way. If you want to get noticed, the best way to do so is by doing the things that others aren’t.


James Tarner has been in the sports industry since 2016. He's currently a sales associate at Sacramento Republic FC and prior to that he worked with Kalamazoo FC. He's an avid learner and a committed sports industry professional. If you're interested in connecting with James, you can find him on LinkedIN here.