Four Key Strategies to Make Your Sports Career Flourish

About Deno Anagnost

Sales Executive with 8 years of experience in ticket sales and ticket sales leadership entering 7th season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As the Director of Sales, our staff members are charged with proactively connecting with the Tampa Bay marketplace with a consultative approach so customers truly get the most out of their experience coming to Buccaneers home games and off-season member events. I am a passionate recruiter and I am always looking to hire the top talent in our small industry.

Is your career in ticket sales just starting to catch fire? Or, are you a seasoned veteran or manager feeling as though your career development is becoming stagnant?

Either way, I have four strategies which can take your career and personal brand to the next level. I have been very fortunate in my career to work alongside and meet with some of the best sales executives in professional sports. These individuals use these strategies to make a positive impact on their organizations and community. This kind of approach is worth imitation and will be noticed and contagious to those around you.

Focus on who (not what) you want to become

People dance with mediocrity because they focus solely on what they want to become. Their career goals are all about titles, money, and what they think is “success.” The short term, fast track mindset is strictly measured by timelines and dollar figures: “I need to be a manager in two years and making six figures in three years.”

Effective sales executives focus on (1) who they want to become and why, and (2) not on what they want to become and when. When you focus on who you want to become, attention shifts to what you can control. Create positive habits driven by who you are and want to be. Start thinking about others more. Establish what you stand for as a professional and why. Become a better version of yourself than yesterday. The right position will find you if you focus on being the very best at the position you have, whether it’s a student, an intern, a sales rep, or in management. The end reward isn’t the money, position or awards. It is what you now possess to give and contribute.

Lead with an abundance mindset

An abundance mindset believes an ample amount of success and resources exist to share with others.

Sales executives at every level can have a scarcity mindset. In a ticket sales environment, this means you believe there is a limited amount of success and sales to be made. Leaders with this mindset feel the need to hoard knowledge and resources. This scarcity mindset creates unnecessary competition that promotes negativity and leads to needless conflict between colleagues and departments.

When you have an abundance mindset, you congratulate and learn from others’ successes. When you have a scarcity mindset you look for ways to justify why they had success and you did not. This distracts focus from the functions of your job which leads to poor results. Someone with an abundance mindset will be consistently generous with their time, praise, information and resources. A sales executive with a scarcity mindset is highly jealous, and will shield information for fear someone else will have more success with it then they will.

An abundance mindset does incredible things for your personal brand. Your actions will show you have the big picture in mind. You will be viewed as someone who is selfless, and in return, you will become someone who receives more information, more responsibility, and more praise. Ask yourself: “Am I contributing to the greater good of the sales department? Or am I taking all that I can so I can win?”

Be present

Some of the best sales executives I have ever been around possess a piercing ability to focus. They become increasingly more accomplished than peers. How?

  1. They are professional students of time management.
  2. They work efficiently without making mistakes on the small details without getting distracted.
  3. They regulate their environments and remove potential distractions from line of sight.
  4. They aren’t on work phones while also texting on cell phones, typing emails or browsing websites.
  5. They are active listeners. When they ask you a question they are genuinely interested in connecting to uncover a way to help you.
  6. In meetings, their computer screens and cell phones are turned off to eliminate distractions.
  7. They give all of their attention to you and the task at hand; they aren’t just “checking the box.”

This approach carries into their personal lives. They aren’t texting or sending emails at the dinner table. When they spend time with friends and family, that’s what they are doing. They engage in conversations and activities that build healthy relationships. The core of this strategy is to focus on being present in all areas of your life. Put tremendous work into being present and you will have deeper, more fruitful relationships.

Don’t give or take excuses

Our biggest problem as sales professionals is when we can’t even see  we have a problem.

Every time I make an excuse I tell a little lie to myself that I end up believing. Doing this blinds us. We lose our self-awareness. These little lies exaggerate the faults of others and inflate our own egos. We quickly see the world through this negative view no matter how big or small the excuse is.

When we take action to do the tough things best for the long term we build grit within ourselves. This makes us more prepared for the next tough challenge ahead in our lives. In contrast, each time we rationalize or excuse we become more mentally weak. We become less confident. We fold when even easier obstacles arise.

Don’t let external situations control your internal attitude. Giving excuses is one thing. Taking them is another. Nothing defines a sales culture more than the excuses leadership accepts. Excuses are excuses. We all use them. What we don’t see is that excuses focus on things outside of our control. Do these sound familiar?

  • I’d sell more if I had better seats to sell.
  • If I had a different title I could get to decision makers easier.
  • I didn’t hit my goal because the team stinks.
  • This lead list is weak.
  • I don’t have enough time.

Sales leaders who accept these excuses can expect mediocre results or worse. Instead, look for ways to coach reps to identify when they are making excuses. Create habits and a sales culture built around professional, personal, and revenue development.

Conclusion

I wish I could tell you these strategies are easy to implement. These are not quick fixes. Over time, these strategies will change your approach to this business. People can try to fake this approach, but then words and actions won’t align. However, when habits and words do align with these strategies, people will see you as someone with courage, someone who can stomach the cost of leadership, and someone to admire. Who do you want to be?

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