Four Mount Union Alumni Serve as Sport Sales Trainers
March 04, 2010
Four Mount Union alumni served as sport sales trainers at the 6th Annual Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair, presented by Mount Union College, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians on Friday, February 26 in Cleveland, OH.
The event provided participants with successful sales techniques and valuable insights from some of the most successful professionals in the industry. The four Mount Union alumni, along with other sales professionals, offered nearly four hours of personalized sport sales training.
With ticket sales being the best opportunity to find employment in the sport industry, the experience gained at the Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair gave participants a head start for a promising career. The training sessions provided a unique opportunity for participants to “audition” for entry-level sales positions, and fellow Mount Union alumni were right there to guide students and recent graduates in the right direction.
Director of Team Marketing and Business Operations for the NBA/WNBA/NBDL
A 2001 graduate of Mount Union, Flavil Hampsten understands the value of the Annual Sports Sales Workshop and Job Fair.
“I wish I had this opportunity as a student,” Hampsten said. “It (the workshop) gives you a sense of the day in the life of a sales executive. It helps you as an individual build a network and hopefully those connections will land you a job after graduation.”
Hampsten joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) as director of team marketing and business operations in August of 2009. In his new role, he is responsible for analyzing the business operations and identifying areas of strengths and opportunities for a select number of teams in order to provide assistance in maximizing all areas of the business including season ticket sales, group ticket sales, retention, sponsorship sales, game operations, arena management and marketing.
There are two main reasons why Hampsten comes back every year for the workshop and job fair – to recruit and to give back to Mount Union. “I recruit,” said Hampsten. “I look for talent for our teams. I’m essentially a screener. Last year we hired four people, three from Mount Union and one from Kent State University. There is definitely placement coming from the Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair.”
During Hampsten’s time as a student at Mount Union, he interned with the National Sports Forum, the Cleveland Browns and the Akron Aeros. During his time as an intern with the Akron Aeros is when he really got a taste of what ticket sales was like. “I hated it,” he said. “I wanted nothing to do with it, but then after a while I started liking it more and more.”
Hampsten recommends that recent graduates start out in a tough market and in ticket sales. It is important for individuals in the sports industry to have a sense of what ticket sales is and how it operates. “No matter what department you land in, nearly everything is done to drive ticket sales.”
Before joining the NBA, Hampsten served as vice president of ticket sales and service for the Phoenix Coyotes. During his tenure with the Coyotes, he achieved a 99 percent growth in full season tickets and eclipsed all ticket sales records including group sales, individual ticket sales, renewal percentage and premium sales. In the course of his career, Hampsten has served as group sales manager for the New Orleans Hornets, premium seating executive for Comcast-Spectacor (Philadelphia Flyers and76ers), sales consultant for the Philadelphia Flyers and corporate marketing manager for Mandalay Sports and Entertainment for both the Las Vegas 51s and Frisco Rough Riders.
Senior Director of Ticket Sales of the Columbus Crew
A 2001 sport management (now sport business) graduate of Mount Union, David Melfi is in his fifth year as the senior director of ticket sales with the Columbus Crew. Melfi oversees the day-to-day responsibilities of the Columbus Crew ticket sales department which includes a season ticket sales staff, group sales staff, customer service department and inside sales staff.
Melfi sees the value in students attending the Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair. “This workshop provides students an opportunity to be more prepared, more knowledgeable, have a clearer expectation and know the ugly side of the profession because they see and hear it firsthand,” he said.
Prior to joining the Crew, Melfi served in a variety of sales positions with various organizations including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and KDKA-TV2, a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, PA.
“Mount Union students are far more prepared then others because of how Dr. Kadlecek prepares them. He provides the necessary knowledge of what it really is like in the ‘real world,’” said Melfi. “I have hired one Mount Union student intern and know of two more that I would consider if a position becomes available.”
Assistant General Manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Jordan Taylor, a 2000 graduate of Mount Union who majored in sport management (now sport business), is currently in his eighth year with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and serves as the team’s assistant general manager. In his current position, he oversees all aspects of the organization but has a primary focus on corporate sales, ticket sales and marketing. Taylor has served in a variety of other positions with the Scrappers including corporate marketing representative, director of ticket sales and assistant general manager of sales.
“I didn’t have this opportunity as a student,” said Taylor, when asked about the Annual Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair. “It would have been great to have an experience like this.”
Taylor explained that the workshop isn’t just about lecturing and giving advice. Although the workshop does offer those aspects, it is more about being interactive and getting the participants involved. Participants learn how to get through gatekeepers and other successful sales techniques.
Prior to joining the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, he served as ticketing manager for C.K. Newcomb and Associates and interned with International Management Group (IMG) in Cleveland, OH.
“The sport business program at Mount Union does a really good job of preparing students for the real world,” admits Taylor. “They stress the importance of internships and doing them early.”
Taylor has had a number of Mount Union students serve as interns for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the students have been exceptional. “The sport business program has really carved out a good niche in ticket sales.”
Director of Suite Sales and Service for the Oakland Raiders
Ryan Robbins is new to the position of director of suite sales and service for the Oakland Raiders, but he’s not new to the sports industry. In 2000, he graduated from Mount Union and three days later, he began his career with the New Orleans Saints where he spent four years as an account executive.
“When I entered this field, I didn’t know much about what a sales career entailed, but today’s students have the opportunity to receive training, both in the classroom and through programs like this workshop,” said Robbins. “They are given the opportunity to test it out and learn whether or not a career in sales is for them.”
Robbins left the New Orleans Saints to serve as the manager of ticket sales for the Cleveland Brown. While working for the Browns, he earned a master of business administration degree from Baldwin-Wallace College. He most recently served as the director of sales for the Chicago Fire, a major league soccer team before accepting the position with the Oakland Raiders.
“I first learned of the open position with the Raiders because of relationships I had built with a number of recruiters,” Robbins added. “A recruiter that I had worked with for years had accepted a position with the organization and called me to see if I would be interested in getting back into professional football. I’ve definitely been lucky to have the opportunity to connect with so many professionals and gain experience by working for such great organizations.”
His sports industry career has not been all luck though. “I’ve had to work hard,” he said. “I like what I do and appreciate all of the opportunities I have been given. There are only 100 some organizations that offer the chance to do what I do.”
Robbins involvement with this workshop has allowed him to give back to Mount Union. “I am so thankful I am able to come back and give sport sales training,” he said. “It also provides additional opportunities to network.” Networking is important because at some point the relationships and connections individuals will make with professionals will open doors to new possibilities and job opportunities.