How to transition from sports salesperson to sales manager

by ted glick - sr. director of sales & Service at sacramento republic fc | February 05, 2019

The sound of the sales bell rings throughout the office, announcing to all that another sale has been made! Now picture the sales floor, everyone turns to look, who’s ringing the bell?! Are you picturing yourself as the ringer, continuing to climb the leaderboard, or are you picturing someone else, possibly an employee that you recruited and developed? Your answer to that question can be incredibly telling about what the next step in your career should be. For many senior sellers, you’ll find yourself at a difficult crossroads after a few seasons of success – continue your path as a star performer, or enter the coaching staff and pursue a career in management.

My “aha moment” occurred during my second season at the Philadelphia 76ers as an Account Executive running the internship program. I was watching Tim Bright, an intern at the University of Delaware, whom I had the pleasure of hiring and coaching, ring the sales bell for the first time. The sparkle in his eye and genuine excitement only told a small part of the story – I had witnessed the hours of role-playing, training, and the hard work he put in to get that first deal done. It vastly outweighed any sense of pride I had while ringing the bell myself. I was proud of Tim and excited for what the future held for him – I wanted to experience that feeling again, and again. I was all in on management.

Leadership and entrepreneurship are two topics often romanticized in business – for every Gary V or Simon Sinek video demonstrating the sexy tip of the iceberg, there’s a grind beneath the surface to achieve success. Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s a tireless journey with yourself and your team to achieve extraordinary goals. And extraordinary results require extraordinary effort. As I reflect on my journey from an individual contributor at the Philadelphia 76ers, to my role now as a coach (and I choose the word coach intentionally) at the Sixers, New Jersey Devils, and Sacramento Republic, the individual relationships have been the most rewarding part of the process. My goal is to help grow the next generation of sports business leaders and this article is meant to shine a small spotlight on the transition into management for aspiring coaches. In this post, I’ll offer a few tips for separating yourself from the pack to earn your first management position, and then in part two of this piece (coming soon in theClubhouse) I’ll offer advice on making the successful transition as a leader – stay tuned!


Where to Start – Earning Your First Management Position

1. Establish your “Why” – find your North Star:

Before formulating your strategy to earn your first promotion into management internally or externally, you must convince yourself (not your next boss) that leadership is the right next step for you. Does leadership feel like a cool new job, a potential career, or a calling? As I previously mentioned, leadership is hard work – around-the-clock effort to put your team in a position to succeed and if your head (and heart) aren’t in the right spot, you’ll find this transition particularly difficult.

If you haven’t had that “aha moment” quite yet – don’t sweat it. Just as great athletes “hang by the net” to increase their chances of scoring, put yourself in position to learn by surrounding yourself with leadership resources. Create more chances to have a breakthrough by consistently putting yourself in situations to learn and grow from individuals who already have. Are you reading books about leadership or listening to podcasts? Are you reaching out to your rolodex and/or seeking out the world class performers (or sports industry’s best) for advice? If you play the numbers game and consistently invest in your own development, chances are you’ll determine your “why” and start to shape your internal operating system for leading a team.

2. Invest in your future – create a peer following by teaching:

What are you doing to prepare yourself for the next level? Are you delivering more value to those around you than your job description entails? Once you’ve learned from the best, it’s time to develop the next crop of stars around you and pay it forward. Just as great NFL coaches like Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells have created a coaching tree by growing future leaders, you must establish a following by investing in the development of your peers and individuals who aspire to be in your shoes (college students, first year associates, etc). One of the best ways to accomplish this is by teaching. If you want to accelerate your growth and perfect your own process, seek out more mentees than mentors.

Are you being selfless with your time and providing informational interviews, mentorship phone calls, or coffees with new hires? These activities often do not show up on the scoreboard – but are the mark of a great aspiring leader and can fast track your personal development. Teaching is a powerful tool to develop the student and the professor – you’ll be forced to look internally and take your own medicine. Role playing with a new hire after work? You’ll likely recognize a few shortcuts you’re taking in your own sales process – listen to your inner dialogue (when’s the last time I set definitive next steps on a phone call?). I bet the last few minutes of your next phone call will sound a little different.

Think two steps ahead and anticipate who might be on the team that you’ll be leading one day, or who the future influencers will be on the sales floor to help you create a strong culture. Spend time with rising stars and develop a following by consistently providing value sideways and down the food chain. If you consistently show the younger folks the ropes, this selfless act will be transformed into a selfish one when you realize that you’re the one receiving the most value out of the relationship.

3. Keep a high profile on the leaderboard and the sales floor – win the moments:

Your promotion to the management team should not be a surprise to you or your peers when it happens. Are you consistently demonstrating the values necessary to be a great coach? Are you shaping the narrative of your personal brand or letting others formulate their own opinions? There’s likely a fierce competition for that future manager job opening – be purposeful and stand out from the pack. Win the moments and seize the spotlight to show others why you are the right person for the job.

Corey Breton had a fantastic line in his recent Clubhouse webinar about managing a staff and bringing a positive attitude – “You don’t have to be a ‘10’ every day, but you cannot fall below an 8.’’ While you don’t have to be always be a rockstar, you certainly have to bring a level of consistency in terms of results and your intangibles. You’ve got to be dangerous and keep a high profile with your work ethic, results, and reputation. Your promotion effort can often feel like the political campaign trail – and it’s your job to be memorable and tell your story. Team huddles, training sessions, and staff meetings are incredible opportunities to seize the spotlight. With a collection of executives, peers, or department heads in the same room – how are you taking advantage to win the moment and tell your story? Everything speaks. Where you stand, how you present yourself, and what you share in those meetings. Push yourself to be an active participant in every group setting to practice your dynamic presentation skills – plus you’ll need these as a coach while hosting a staff rally or training session in the future.

I’m always looking to pay it forward and give back to those in sports business – I wouldn’t be where I am today without incredible mentors and coaches. If I can be a resource to you and your career, don’t hesitate to reach out for a cup of coffee, beer, or phone call. Thanks for reading – dare to be great with your teams.

Ted

Ted Glick is a regular contributor to theClubhouse and is currently the Sr. Director of Ticket Sales & Service at Sacramento Republic FC. In his role he oversees the strategy and execution of all ticket sales and service initiatives along with leading many of the Clubs premium hospitality efforts. Prior to the Republic Ted worked at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment Group (HBSE) and the Sixers and Devils for nearly 4 years. He started as a Sales Associate and ended up as their Sr. Manager of Ticket Sales. He attended Boston College where he graduated in 2014. He’s achieved a great deal of professional success thus far in his career and is committed to giving back and helping develop the next generation of sports industry leaders. He’s a Clubhouse mentor and an open networker and can always be reached at tglick@sacrepublicfc.com