Successful businesses can be high volume, flashy operations or duly efficient productions. Wherever it falls on the excitement spectrum, great companies truly define themselves by profitably selling products and services to consumers and business partners. And really, is there a better product to sell than sports? Not likely; sales professionals that have a passion for sports and enjoy the art of the deal will thrive in the sports sales arena. Sports Sales positions usually offer middling salary plus heavy commission compensation packages, allowing the best of the best to quickly make an excellent living in a fast-paced, energizing work environment.
Broadcast and sponsorship dollars easily represent the largest pie in a professional sports organization’s revenue portfolio. The National Football League itself rakes in over $1 billion per year from each of its network partners – ESPN, NBC, Fox, and CBS – with ESPN’s Monday Night Football deal teetering near $2 billion a year mark on its own. National broadcast deals are negotiated at the highest levels of organizations but amateur and college teams along with certain professional leagues broadcast with regional partners offering plenty of opportunities to lesser experienced sales professionals. Sports is a 24/7 business – networks like ESPN, NBC Sports and Fox Sports along with sports radio stations have made it so – which means quality content is vital. Hire on with radio or television media to get local sports teams’ home games on the air, bringing exposure to the team and more viewers and listeners to your company’s network. While broadcasting partnerships bring together a sports organization with just a handful of media companies – i.e. the Chicago Cubs with WGN and Comcast SportsNet – sponsorship deals come by the dozens and are frequently negotiated. Sports organizations are sponsoring anything and everything they can while trying not to taint the purity of the games we love. The line between tactful advertising and supersaturated commercialism is continually crossed. It doesn’t always bring the best fan experience but does allow for a host of new opportunities for sales professionals. Sports teams hire sales people to go into the local market and secure deals to sponsor anything from billboards and seating sections to pre-game shows, halftime shows and in-game highlight clips. Be creative and sell the popularity of a sports team to make your employer happy and earn hefty commission checks.
As Yogurt from Spaceballs says “Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made!” Ticket sales and advertising monies are excellent but merchandising sales are high margin and can be high volume. Not every sports fan is willing to pay $100 or more for a ticket, food and drinks at a ballgame, limiting the target audience of who will attend a game in person. While a million fans may cross through turnstiles in single season, depending on the sport, multiples of that number will purchase jerseys, hats, posters, key chains and more. Becoming a sales person that takes an organization’s merchandise to market is an intense, exciting way to build a career. And seeing the products on shelves at a store you deal with brings with it an emotional charge. You can either work with sports organizations directly or companies that license a team’s name and logo. People willing to network and take to the streets to hunt down leads can make an amazing career out of merchandise sales. Organization, persistence and people-skills are key – tracking down leads, asking again when “no” is the first response and drawing in others with your personality helps to build relationships and close deals. Merchandising is an ever-growing revenue stream in sports as organizations and corporate sponsors find new ways to reduce operational cost and increase margins.
While it’s a niche market, sports equipment sales is continually expanding and changing. The equipment for certain games seemingly stays the same, but that perception is far from the truth. Baseball bats and gloves are groomed to players’ needs and materials used to design basketballs and the courts they bounce on are state-of-the-art. And football equipment is evolving the most as concussions and PTSD headline a myriad of health concerns in the sport. Any parent with kids that play hockey know the high cost of sticks, gloves, skates and helmets. The plus of being in the sports equipment sales business are the variety of opportunities it presents. Employment with a sports league, one of its teams or a variety of sports equipment manufacturing companies are all possibilities. Alternatively, working directly with customers at sporting goods stores bring you closer to the consumers that will use the equipment. Needs in the sports equipment market persist as the popularity of sports continues to grow and safety issues remain in the news.
Sales usually involves working leads, networking, pitching, making phone calls and traveling. But, with sports, there’s an opportunity to sell the experience too. Fans watch games at home and in stadiums across the country. But they also pack sports bars on game day for a community experience. Whether you sell for a company or choose to promote sports through a bar and grill restaurant, the entrepreneurial spirit must be in you. Opening a sports bar is about creating an atmosphere and experience that can draw a large crowd for big games but also remain steady during off-peak times. You may choose the franchising route or create your own concept but, either way, having the proper startup funds, choosing the right market and procuring the right equipment are keys. Study successful franchises, adhere to best practices and focus on high quality foods and beverages that meet the needs of your particular market. That way, you and the sports fans you serve get what you want.