Season ticket sales skills

Author Camila Borsato, University of San Francisco

Posted: June 6, 2016

Selling season tickets is a challenge that sales departments throughout the sport industry face on a daily basis. An overall view of the sales environment indicates it is shifting from an approach mainly focused on the product to an approach which emphasizes building relationships with the customer. By this evolvement, different skill needs arise from a sales management perspective (Zalloco, Pullins, and Mallin, 2009).

With the purpose of understanding this scenario change, many researches on the sales field investigate how sales professionals are adapting to such more dynamic environment. Hence, the characteristics and knowledge areas which are now considered most valuable to achieve successful sales. A study conducted by Marshall, Goebel & Moncrief (2003) indicates six levels of important factors to a successful salesperson. Its findings listed a few primarily skill-based items at the higher level of importance, with listening and follow up skills heading the list. In their opinion, “the effort devoted by the salesperson to the ongoing maintenance and management of the relationship, especially between actual face-to-face encounters with the buyer” (Marshall et al., 2003, p. 205) is the major difference between the two roles of sales – transactional and relational.

By the same token, Powers, Jennings and Thomas (2013) findings also present a ranking of the skills a successful salesperson has within different levels of management. An additional interesting data provided by this study is the categorization of skills as “interpersonal skills, technical skills and strategic skills” (Powers et al., 2013, p. 212), according to its representation of skill, knowledge or ability at each job position. The top-ranked interpersonal skill is build trust with the sales force, the first listed technical skill is implement CRM, while understand the overall strategy of the organization leads the strategic skills raking (Powers et all., 2013, p. 213). These findings complement Marshall et al. (2003) idea that the human resource contributes to a successful sales career growth by “incorporation the important skills and content knowledge for sales success into their piece of the process” (p. 254).

Equally significant to comprehend the skill set required to outperform in the relationship era of sales is understanding the job from a personality profiling point of view. Holmes (2008) believes succeeding in sales is not about professional background and experience, but about finding the personality characteristics that fits the sales position requirements. The author strongly recommends using a test to find someone’s behavioral assessments called DISC which “stands for four aspects of the personality: dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance” (Holmes, 2008, p. 81). The first dimension represents a person’s preference for solving problems, the second indicates the level of interaction and showing emotions, and the third one shows the liking for persistence and pacing, whereas the last one, cautious, denotes the preference for protocols and procedures.

A glance at University of North Carolina measure to increase season ticket sales confirms Holmes (2008) concept which states personality characteristics are more important than professional background when concerning sales with a customer relationship approach. Knowing the central role National Signing Day plays among his target market, Brian Chacos, the director of fan development creatively planned a sales force event surrounding signing day (Popp, 2015, p. 12). Not letting the size of his sales team prevent his event to happen, Chacos invited season ticket holders “to come to campus and participate in a ticket sales call event” (Popp, 2015, p. 12).

Even though this measure may seem unusual it presented surprisingly positive results in revenue, leading to a second edition of the Football Signing Day Call-A-Thons. On 2014, first year, the event resulted in $27k of ticket sales revenue while on 2015 the sales effort accounted for $53K in revenue (Popp, 2015, p. 12). A few reasons behind this unique attempt made it a successful sales force: the volunteers build trust while creating a bond with prospect clients, they stablished personal connections with the target market, especially because they are also part of the target, and these two reasons combined led to a third one which is making fans be part of the team.

Furthermore, and even as important as the reasons above, the sales team was chosen according to the characteristics this job required (Popp, 2015, p. 12). This, combined with the proper encouragement, and reward, created a team with knowledge of the organization, with passion for the sport and entity, as well as prepared to solve problems and capable of interacting in a true matter with the costumer. This “combination of different intensities of personality’s trait” (Holmes, 2008, p. 82) is a recipe for a superstar salesperson.




Holmes, C. (2008). The Ultimate Sales Machine. New York: Portfolio.

Marshall, G., Goebel, J., & Moncrief, W. (2003). Hiring for success at the byer-seller interface. Journal of Business Research, 56(4), 247-255.

Popp, N. (2015, May 4). How one event uses fan base’s passion to recruit ticket buyers. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(4). Retrieved from

Powers, T., Jennings, C., & DeCarlo, T. (2013). An assessment of needed sales management skills. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 34(8), 206-222.

Zallocco, R., Pullins, E. B., Mallin, M. L. (2009). A Re-examination of B2B Sales Performance. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 24(8), 598–610.

About Camila Borsato, University of San Francisco

Camila is currently a graduate student at the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Master’s Program. She graduated from Universidade Federal do Paraná with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with emphasis in Public Relations and later pursued a MBA degree in Sport Management from Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing. With a great interest in operations and event management, she has experience within professional sports and intercollegiate athletics. This article is an edited version of a paper Camila prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Business Development and Sales class at the University of San Francisco. Camila can be reached at

IImage by Nick Zolotko, "Tickets", Accessed via Creative Commons license.