My primary tasks include management and coaching of a ticket sales team.
Being an AHL team, one of our biggest challenges is to raise awareness for our brand and position the Rocket as a professional club and not junior hockey.
I am tasked with creating strategic sales plans that will allow the sales team to fill the venue for Rocket games through efficient sales calls and meetings.
I target a specific group of leads, create a script that is then coached to the team, and then deploy the sales campaign.
The campaigns can be generated by various methods of marketing channels such as newsletters, direct marketing strategies or web lead generation strategies which in turn, create a list of potential buyers that the sales team is asked to contact.
Anyone working in sports will tell you that there is no such thing as a typical day working in sports. There are so many variables that can shift & shuffle your priorities.
In the AHL for example, players get called up and down from the big club on a weekly basis. The team you start the season with rarely stays intact throughout the year.
From a sales standpoint, that makes the day-to-day very challenging since the pull in sports to sell tickets are strong performances and high-level calibre players.
Thus, if I suddenly wake up one morning to a high-calibre player suddenly getting sent down to our club, then I have to rush to the office, gather the team to brainstorm, create and launch a promotion in order to capitalize on ticket sales for the arrival of that player.
Consequently, everything you had planned to do that day suddenly is no longer a priority. It’s a fast-paced environment that requires constant proactivity, and that’s why we love what we do!
2Your roles have been all connected to revenue generation – Corporate Account Manager, Corporate Account Executive, Sales & Client Services Manager – what led you in this direction, how did you figure out this was your fit?
I am not a naturally born salesman. I sort of fell into the role. And with time, it kind of grew on me.
Coming out of school, if you want to work in sports, we don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing in Montreal like in other cities where there are 4-5 big sports teams in addition to NCAA opportunities and minor league teams.
Before the AHL arrived in Laval in 2017, we had the MLS, the CFL and the NHL to choose from.
I had a good buddy of mine working at the Alouettes so I had the opportunity to interview for an account manager position. I, unfortunately, did not get the job, but they liked my interview and offered me an inside sales job instead.
I had paid for my studies through being a waiter and so I had never actually sold a product unless it was an extra side of sweet potato fries. But there was no way I was not going to try it. I just wanted to work in sports.
From there, it took me 3 weeks to make my first sale. It was a long and brutal process. But the high I got from taking down that credit card and processing that first sale did it for me.
I quickly started understanding the sales process and quickly began succeeding in converting new clients to the stadium.
You get to create a connection with complete strangers by creating amazing memories for them and you get to grow your network and constantly meet new people.
There is simply no better feeling than watching a sold-out kick-off or puck-drop and knowing that you contributed to that atmosphere.
3What did you like most about being in sales when you first started out?
The competitive nature of the role is addictive. Generally, you are not only trying to surpass your personal objectives but also surpass your colleagues.
You want to be the guy ringing the sales bell in the sales pit. And It is a constant battle for the consumer’s disposable income.
There are so many other options than live sports, in addition to traditional challenges such as the economy or the mere fact that your team is just lousy, which makes anybody with a competitive attitude love their job.
4Managing sales in the sport industry almost always comes with challenges given the unpredictable nature of sport. This year COVID-19 has been a challenge on myself and many other students and graduates looking to work in the sport industry. What advice do you have to overcome these challenges?
You can never prepare for a year like we’re having.
We are in one of those industries that have been hit very hard. Many teams are struggling to generate new money all the while trying to maintain their current staff as well as their client base. However, it’s only a matter of time until things normalize.
While sports clubs have had to let go many staff members, they will need to rehire eventually. The first reflex is always to reach back to the members that once worked for the club, but chances are those members are not waiting around and have found a new career path.
Most teams that I have spoken with, including myself, have been building a pipeline of candidates since the start of this pandemic to prepare for the day that all activities get going again. On that note, the best advice I can give is to grow your network within the sports landscape and stay connected with as many sports leaders as possible.
Be persistent and make sure to be noticed. When I start hiring, before I even go to the pile of CVs, I go through my LinkedIn and reach out to people that have expressed interest in the past.
5Being a Client Manager, what do you tell your account holders when they ask you what the future of the pending season is going to look like?
Nobody knows. We at the AHL have the luxury to use other professional leagues as a benchmark and adopt the best practices.
Leagues like the MLS and NFL have been amazingly open to sharing their socially distanced operations, and so we can simply adjust to our venue and implement.
The key message that we communicate is that the only way we will accept fans is in a safe environment, but in no way will we force our account holders if they are not comfortable with the standards in place.