As the Indianapolis Indians open their 107th season, the Sports Innovation Institute, as part of the IUPUI sports management curriculum, completed the fourth season as a ticket sales partner with the reigning International League West Division champions.
Utilizing the methods taught in his groundbreaking textbook, Selling in the Sport Industry, students in Dr. David Pierce’s Selling in the Sport Industry (TCEM-S 301) class generated over $18,000 in revenue for the Indianapolis Indians this semester.
“The sales project with IUPUI provides the Indians with a temporary 30-person sales staff that focuses on small package sales,” said Chad Bohm, Director of Tickets – Sales & Services. “The students do a great job of staying focused and making thousands of phone calls over a three-week span, resulting in upgrading a number of our single-game buyers to our mini and flex plan packages.”
Students complete eight weeks of sales training at the start of the semester, led by Pierce, before the suite level of Victory Field is transformed into a learning laboratory with students placing outbound calls to prospects and completing sales.
“The sales class has a huge impact on our undergraduate program because it trains students on the sales competencies that are sought by organizations in the sport industry,” said Pierce. “This year, the students did extremely well selling the Indians flex voucher plans. This product allows fans to fit games around their schedules. Primarily, we focused a lot more this semester on role playing and it really paid off with the students being able to jump in on day one and be successful.”
With only 22% of sport management programs offering a course in sport sales and only a handful of those offering a client-based experiential sales project, students receive a unique and innovative experience that allows them to build a skill set valuable in the industry.
“The partnership with IUPUI is a perfect fit for a number of reasons,” added Bohm. “The time frame is just before our season begins, so fans are enthusiastic and ready to talk baseball. Their campus is right up the road, so the proximity allows students to meet and make calls from our stadium, which we feel energizes them due to seeing the ballpark and experience that they are selling. It’s a perfect match for both parties.”
With over 40 percent of entry-level jobs in the sport industry being in sales (in future we’ll have an infographic to support this), this provides a deep immersive learning experience that helps prepare them for a potential career in sales or in sports in general.
“We measure success of this program not only from a ticket revenue perspective, but also what the students get out of it,” said Bohm. “They are nearing the next step in their lives, whether it’s an internship, or a full-time position. Our goal is to give them a glimpse of what front office work is like in a professional sports organization.”
During the sales training, students learn key sales competencies like diagnosing customer needs, presenting customized solutions, overcoming objections, and closing sales.
“Sales is always going to be defined by numbers and the total number of sales made,” said Garrett Rosh, senior ticket sales account executive. “However, that is a small portion of how I define success of this program. From seeing the students make that first nerve-racking call to witnessing them grow more confident as they talk to our customers over the course of the program is amazing and very rewarding! They are getting real world experience that they can utilize throughout their lives, regardless if they choose sales as a career or not.”