If you are searching for a job in the sports industry, it’s likely you have visited websites such as Teamwork Online recently and were excited to see the amount of “career opportunities” at your local sports team.
If you’re already in the sports industry, you know that “post season” is just another way to say “we’re hiring now because none of our employees could put up with our crap anymore, so they left the second the season ended“.
The truth is, the person who left their post in order to give you the opportunity to apply has moved on to a job that has doubled, if not tripled, his or her salary, offered bonuses and special savings accounts, and actually provided FULL healthcare benefits.
They were you once – lured in by a sports team to apply for a seemingly glamorous position and somehow accepted a ridiculously cheap offer because of the team’s “highly competitive commission structure” just to find out first hand that there could never possibly be a stable financial future for an individual in such a backwards work environment.
Owners believe that the more salespeople you have, the more likely you are to have sold-out crowds on a nightly basis. Sadly, it’s not true when sales directors are stuck in the rut of cold calling and restricting representatives from using email and social media marketing sales techniques.
That also means that the larger a sales staff is, the smaller the salaries will be.
So, before you blow your savings account on a team who won’t provide you with the resources to not only thrive at your job but survive financially, here are my literal descriptions of some “career opportunities” you may see listed online.
Or, in other words, here is all of the bullshit they are hiding from you during the application and interview process:
SALES ASSOCIATE/INSIDE SALES REPRESENTATIVE
Just when you thought your intern days were over, the only job you are able to land is in Inside Sales, otherwise known as a special type of hell.
You have to be one motivated individual to accept a minimum wage (maybe $10/hour) job with the expectation of selling tens of thousands of dollars of ticket packages, knowing you’ll have to make 90+ cold calls PER DAY – not week.
In fact, this is what you are brainwashed into believing – that this is what you HAVE TO DO to get your foot in the door of the sports industry.
I’ll never forget a comment that my first boss made during one of our very first sales meetings as a staff: “If you can go into debt for a college degree, you can also go into debt for your first job.”
As a very recent college graduate who was still just 21 years old, I was BRAINWASHED into thinking that making under $1,000 per month was an acceptable way to start my career, that I was somehow paying my dues just to be able to advance to a “full time, non-seasonal” position in a front office someday.
I thought that’s what my seven unpaid internships were for.
And have you checked out the LinkedIn profiles of everyone who works at the New Jersey Devils lately? It might take you a long time to find one of their employees who completed an Inside Sales program, let alone had more than a year of experience in the sports industry.
TICKET SALES & SERVICE COORDINATOR
Basically, they need someone to answer the phones and process inbound ticket orders, and then they need someone to print all the tickets for will call and stuff envelopes. And THEN they need you to work all of the home games after getting into the office at 8:00 AM to answer phones and deal with fans demanding nonexistent discounts all day.
They will also feed you awful, cold pizza for dinner and not allow you to go home until every single last fan has left the building.
They’ll convince you to accept their $500/month stipend offer with the promise of BIG COMMI$$ION MONEY, coming in the form of an extra check once a month!
What they fail to tell you is that it takes at least a year, if not longer, to build a solid book of business that you can live off of, and your commissions for the first six months will probably average around $26 per month.
You also won’t have enough time to even actively sell due to the amount of inbound phone calls you will have to answer and how many envelopes you will have to stuff.
Trust me, this is where I started many moons ago. You’re gonna need to keep bandaids in your desk for all those papercuts (if you can even afford them).
After a season of constantly begging your parents for money because your bank account is overdrawn thanks to the student loan payments you can’t make, you’ll finally be eligible for a full time, non-seasonal ticket sales position.
You really feel like you’ve made it – your offer includes a “competitive salary with an aggressive commission structure, health benefits, and opportunities to earn additional bonuses.”
What’s sad is that the average entry-level salary with a professional franchise ranges from $24,000-$26,000 per year with 1%-4% commission on all sales. But they don’t give you the details of their commission structure in the interview process, of course, and they just lure you in by saying you’ll make 10% on all full season ticket sales.
Well, newsflash: 1% of a $20 group ticket isn’t going to pay the bills, and even if you hit your sales goal, you MIGHT be lucky to break $30,000 in a year.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
Being an Account Executive wasn’t financially working out, so you decide to apply to this job because you figure that the extra words in the title mean extra money in your paycheck.
What a “BDAE” really means is that you are an Inside Sales Representative on steroids, and instead of asking fans a series of redundant questions about their fan experience, you are hounding decision makers at companies to set a meeting time with you.
And even if you land a meeting, they’ll cancel with no warning or won’t buy anything because marketing at sporting arenas plainly doesn’t work for businesses 75% of the time.
Every time you call, they will remember the sales pitch the last BDAE made to them and will consequently remember all the money they feel that they wasted on the idea that giving their clients free tickets to sporting events will somehow increase their revenue.
And all your bosses care about is how many appointments you go on per day and how much revenue you’re bringing in. You are essentially a dog playing fetch, but instead of chasing a green tennis ball, you are trained to be a robot with zero personality in pursuit of bringing back any and every sale you possibly make.
There’s a reason sponsorships are called sponsorships. Pitch it that way, and you might turn out alright, but if make promises your tickets can’t make, you’re going to be spending more time googling “pay day loans” and “how to file for bankruptcy” than making large enough sales to pay your rent.
And before you know it, the cycle of being poor and stressed out about money continues on, and when you notice that your other coworkers are putting in their resignation letters left and right, you decide to move on with your life and find a much steadier income, even if that means leaving your passions in the rearview mirror.
After a few years of the same conditions, you just physically can’t do it anymore.
So, unless you want to become an extreme couponer, live in a shoebox, and never be able to afford to shop at a nice grocery store (or a mall for that matter), THIS INDUSTRY IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you want to be able to buy a house before age 50, actually afford to have a social life and a family, and be able to take a decent vacation once a year, RUN AWAY NOW.
Until team owners come to the realization that they would be sold out if their salespeople stopped leaving for higher paying jobs, the sports industry will continue on its downward, out-of-control spiral.
Each time I received and accepted a job offer in my career, the hope that the commissions would improve kept me motivated to keep going, but I learned the hard way that it was just the same shit in a different city every single time.
Business will grow the longer a sales representative stays with a company. It’s common sense. When will the industry learn?
Hopefully soon. I don’t think my heart can bear to see another city lose its sports team.