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What’s In That Job Posting? A recent study was designed to answer the question: What do individuals pursuing a spot on a premium sales team need to know? Teams and job seekers alike can benefit by discovering what the industry-recognized requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities are. By Heather Lawrence, Ph.D., Ohio University and David Pierce, Ph.D., Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis


Quick Hits Of the job postings studied, 57.6% of them identified achievement of specific established sales goals. Database management is a skill likely to show up on more job postings in the future. The vast majority of job postings, as part of the job expectation, listed communication skills, a skill often cited as lacking in the Millennial generation of employees. With general sales experience mentioned more frequently than sport-specific past experiences, premium sales might be an entry point for those without past jobs in sports.

f you are reading this article, you must have some interest in hiring great people as part of your premium sales team. The study outlined below was designed with the primary purposes of 1) to examine premium seating sales job announcements and the types of job responsibilities, transferrable skills, and previous work experience desirable to sport organizations and 2) to explore differences between entry-level and non-entry-level job postings. A secondary purpose was to compare the results by league (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL). To answer these questions, 118 job postings (Teamwork Online, JobsInSports, WorkInSports, and the NCAA employment forum) were examined. From the sport organization side of the equation, the job announcement is the first external communication about the type of person sought for any job. The job seeker first dissects the requirements and preferred qualifications. Then, they figure out how they can help move the organization forward. Finally, they probably consider the role that job might play in their own career advancement. When this all falls into place, they apply. From the perspective of someone who is mentoring or teaching people in the industry, it is also critical to support the development of the “right” skills. Universities are starting to do a better job in this area. Each year, there are more sport sales-specific courses and excellent opportunities to be part of sales combines and training. With this improved structure in place to train the next generation of sport sales professionals, the question becomes, “what do they need to know?” Job Categories & General Information Given that this study was limited to jobs with the sale of premium seating as the primary function as defined in the job title, it does not take into consideration executive level positions. Entry-level jobs were classified as those positions at the non-director level requiring two years of experience or less. Non-entry-level positions were defined as any director position or non-director positions requiring at least three years of experience. Eighty-percent of the job postings examined were positions below the level of director.

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Premium Seating Sales Job Announcement Characteristics Entry-Level Positions: Non-Entry-Level Positions: Average Work Experience Required: Work Experience of One Year or Less Required: Educational Attainment Required: High School Diploma: Associate’s Degree: Some College: Bachelor’s Degree: No Educational Requirements Specified:

60.2% 39.8% 2.67 years 18.2% 3.4% 3.4% 1.7% 77.1% 15.3%

Job Responsibilities A total of 20 job responsibilities related to sales were examined. Only four appeared in at least half of the job announcements: developing relationships with prospects and clients, working game-day events, making outbound sales calls, and making inperson presentations. Additionally, 57.6% of the postings identified achievement of specific established sales goals. There were differences in a few responsibilities, depending on whether the job was entry-level or non-entry-level. Entrylevel postings were four times more likely to indicate outbound sales calls and 2.6 times more likely to specify customer relationship management. On the other hand, non-entry-level jobs were five times more likely to list developing relationships with clients and prospects as compared to entry-level postings. The biggest surprises might not be what tops the lists, but which responsibilities/skills are not frequently listed in job postings. It was surprising to find that evaluation was low on the list of indicated job responsibilities. Traditionally, evaluation (ROI or ROO) has been reserved for sponsorship. But, previous research makes it clear that premium clients want assistance with evaluation from the team. For instance, evaluation of the premium investment could be assigned to premium sales

employees. Teams that provide this service to their corporate premium clients will likely see a stronger partnership between the team and client that could result in greater client retention. The other responsibility noticeably lacking completely from the list is database management. Maybe this responsibility is inherent to the job and just not explicit in the posting, but as Bill Dorsey, Chairman of the ALSD, recently commented, “If I were teaching kids about sports and premium seating, it would be all about customer relationship management and database management.� Job Responsibilities Listed for Premium Seat Sales Positions Job Responsibility


Percent of Listings

Develop relationships with clients Work game-day events Make outbound sales calls Make sales presentations Renewals Develop sales plans Manage suite inventory Generate sales reports Attend networking events Customer relationship management Conduct research Obtain referrals Utilize consultative sales techniques Sales force management Fulfillment Upsell Give facility tours Evaluation (return on objectives) Interact with suite administrator

73 64 63 62 50 49 47 47 45 42 29 28 27 23 20 11 7 5 3

61.9% 54.2% 53.4% 52.5% 42.4% 41.5% 39.8% 39.8% 38.1% 35.6% 24.5% 23.7% 22.9% 19.5% 16.9% 9.3% 5.9% 4.2% 2.5%

Transferrable Skills Ten transferrable skills were also examined, of which four were identified in at least half of the postings: communication skills, computer skills, willingness to work long hours, and organizational skills. The vast majority of the postings listed communication skills as part of the job expectation. Often cited as a skill lacking in the Millennial generation of employees, the development of effective communication skills is imperative for anyone in premium sales. The only difference between entry and non-entry-level job postings for transferrable skills was bilingualism. All 11 positions listing bilingualism were for entry-level jobs. Most of these skills can be obtained by candidates coming from other areas in the sport industry or even outside of sports. Types of Transferrable Skills Sought for Premium Seat Sales Positions Transferrable Skill


Percent of Listings

Communication skills Computer skills Willingness to work long hours Organizational skills Strong work ethic Positive attitude Team player Creativity Bilingual Personable

99 75 65 61 52 42 40 37 11 8

83.9% 63.6% 55.1% 51.7% 44.1% 35.6% 33.9% 31.4% 9.3% 6.8%

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Previous Work Experience Preferred experiences were also studied. These results help to define where premium sales professionals are coming from, which assists those seeking entry into the profession with an understanding of the possible backgrounds acceptable in premium sales. Since customer service and any type of sales experience were both mentioned more frequently than sportspecific past experiences, it is clear that premium sales might be an entry point into sports for those without past jobs in sports. For those coaching young sport professionals and students, these are areas where there is vast opportunity within and outside of sports to build experience. Sport organizations should provide opportunities for interns and volunteers to acquire these experiences, and sport management professors should focus on these areas across the curriculum as well as encourage students to get involved in organizations, groups, and companies where they can get experience. Types of Preferred Experience Listed for Premium Seat Sales Positions Preferred Experience


Percent of Listings

Customer service Any type of sales (general) Sport sales Sport industry (general) Premium seat sales Business-to-business sales Sales force management Selling in a specific market Client account management

61 44 40 27 15 9 9 9 7

51.7% 37.3% 33.9% 22.9% 12.7% 7.6% 7.6% 7.6% 5.9%

The results of this study provide ideas on how to restructure current jobs, better structure new jobs, and help those responsible for developing the next generation of premium salespeople understand “what they need to know”.


NBA vs. NFL vs. MLB vs. NHL Given the small sample size for each league (NBA 13; NFL 26; MLB 18; NHL 23), the comparisons between leagues should be interpreted with caution. However, some statistical differences were found when comparing leagues. • MLB positions were more likely than NBA positions to manage suite inventory. • MLB job announcements were more likely than NFL job announcements to note the responsibility of developing sales plans. • NHL applicants were more likely than those in the NFL to engage in renewals. • The NBA was more likely than the NFL to require sales presentations. • The NFL was the least likely to expect applicants to develop relationships with clients. • There were no differences between leagues with respect to preferred experiences.

One explanation for MLB postings to indicate managing suite inventory and developing sales plans is simply the length of the season. This might result in available premium inventory, and more salespeople needing to generate sales plans to hopefully fill seats. The NFL, on the other hand, demonstrated characteristics in line with teams that do not have as much inventory to sell. As found in most research on sport sales, the leagues are much more the same than different. Summary The past few years, ALSD leaders and other industry experts have been expressing that the premium seating market has matured to the point of being a stand-alone segment of the sport ticketing industry. As this publication has stated in the past, in 1990, this ticketing space was merely 3% of the marketplace, but today approximately 20% of venue seats are premium and represent 40% – 50% of ticket revenues. With the industry now over 20 years old, it has matured to the point of differentiation from inside sales and sponsorship sales. As the corporate ticket marketplace continues to mature, employers will find it necessary to create even more differentiation between premium sales positions and other sales positions. This study on premium seating job postings will assist sport executives in continuing to better understand the premium seating industry segment. Additionally, the results provide ideas on how to restructure current jobs, better structure new jobs, and help those responsible for developing the next generation of premium salespeople understand “what they need to know”. # Would you like more information on this topic or other premium seating research? Write to Heather Lawrence at

Heather Benedict Lawrence - ALSD SEAT Publication  

Heather Benedict Lawrence - ALSD SEAT Publication