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  • Brett Zalaski

FEAR: 9 Ways it Impacts #SportsBiz Sales Reps


During the last couple of years I've had the opportunity to dialogue with a lot of #sportsbiz sales reps of every league, area of the country, gender, race, etc. Over 800(!!!) have submitted content requests, I've had a chance to actually dialogue with over 250 of them, and I've trained over 300 #sportsbiz sales reps on-site.


As I've listened, one thing has become very clear...FEAR is the number one driver of failure for #sportsbiz sales reps, FULL STOP. Earlier this week I talked about some of my personal failures with fear. Now I'm going to discuss 9 fears that I hear in #sportsbiz sales reps...and how to overcome them. Note: We are focusing entirely on sales reps...not management.

  1. The Fear of Being a 'Salesperson': I hear a lot of people in sports, when I was interviewing team side, and here, who seem to want to make sure I knew/know that they don't actually want to be a salesperson. This one's easy to get over. You can't fail up. If you really want that marketing job, sell the crap out of your tickets and you'll find yourself with options. If you don't succeed at the role YOU chose to interview for, you ain't getting the next one.

  2. The Fear of 'No': Reps ask me all the time a million different questions that deal with avoiding 'no'. Reps seem to believe that 'I'll think about it' or 'I'll talk to my wife' or 'Maybe' are good answers. They're not. Listen, 'no' sucks, but it's part of the game. The best sales reps get the most 'yes' answers...but they also get the most 'no' answers, too. If you care about being successful, understand that 'no' is just as good as 'yes'...and both are WAY better than 'maybe'. No rep 'maybe'd' their way to sales success.

  3. The Fear of Having No Fucking Clue What You're Doing: I see 'deer in headlights' reps all the time when I visit teams. Reps staring straight ahead with a dazed look in their eyes. They have no clue how they should be spending their time, and they're thinking about it, and they're getting 'analysis paralysis'. The solution to this starts with being goal-oriented and analytical. If you know you're overall goal, and can break it down to daily increments, you'll know what you're aiming for. If you can analyze where you find the most success, you can point yourself in that direction knowing exactly what the expectation is. It becomes a LOT easier to take action when you know what action needs to be taken.

  4. The Fear of Being Themselves: Sales reps tend to take the scripts they get from their teams and turn into mini-robots. 'If I say this dispassionately enough, the buyer won't be rejecting ME...just the script.' I see this at least once with every team I work with. The problem with this is the buyer needs to buy you and your expertise, and trust you. That doesn't work when you're a robot. You should turn every script and ensure it carries your voice...and your excitement. That will connect the buyer with you. The best reps I've ever listened to sounded the exact same in person at the bar, as they did selling on the phone.

  5. The Fear of Others Opinions: You get to the sales office, you look around, and no one is picking up the phone. There's no energy, no excitement, and you can hear a pin drop. And you sure as shit ain't going to be the first person to break that collective silence. Everyone can hear you! It sucks. If you feel this pattern occurring, come in early and start calls early. If you get into a rhythm, you won't care that other people are coming in, and they'll pick up on your energy. A couple of days of this and it'll be the expectation in the office.

  6. The Fear of Trying AND Being Bad at Something: Sales reps who work in pro sports tend to have been pretty successful. They were good high school and collegiate athletes, did well in school, and have good personalities and integrity. Then they get to teams and suck at sales right away...and they are super confused. I'm good at everything...why do I suck at this? This challenge only becomes bigger over time...and is a big reason why I see a lot of talented reps leave the industry. The response is to remember sales is likes sports. You weren't good at sports the first time you played them. You practiced and played and got better. Sales is EXACTLY the same. Applying yourself on the phones, to your training, etc. will be what gets you better...not a belief that you'll be good right away. The best reps are the most initially humble reps.

  7. The Fear of the Phone: Sales reps in 2020 have been using phones for their entire life. But they've been using it to text, send videos, send emails, use social media,, and play video games. They have NOT been talking on the phone. Yet all #sportsbiz sales are still made over the phone or in-person. To get over this, reps need to not only practice their sales game...but use their creative skills to drive people from social media and text to the phone and in-person. Get better at the phone...but don't be beholden to it. Allen Schlesinger write 100 LinkedIn messages a day to drive people to the phone and face-to-face. And he's an awesome salesperson.

  8. The Fear of the Big Sale: The hardest suite you'll ever sell if your first. Because reps don't make a lot of money, they have a hard time justifying major purchases...so they aim towards the lowest cost packages (season sales) and ticket minimums (group sales). Reps NEED to internalize that this isn't their money...it's the buyers money. Our job is to educate and recommend a package that is best for THEM, not what's comfortable for us. Remembering to get out of our own way is critical to making (and wanting to make) bigger sales more consistently.

  9. The Fear of Not Being a 25-Year Old Manager: Reps rush everything. They see their boss is 25 and assume they have to be a manager by 25. They push themselves towards that artificial deadline, then get frustrated and leave when they don't get it. Everyone evolves on their own timeline. The best managers I've seen were not the ones who raced to management, but the ones who pushed themselves to be as good a sales rep as they could possibly be. That integrity to selling, and passion for selling, is what makes a good manager.


These are some of the ones I come across every day. There are many I'm sure I missed...and there are plenty that are specific and personal to just one person. There's one key to all of it, though...and that's action crushes fear. Taking action towards something will always mitigate risk and fear because you're fucking doing it. The second 'no' is easier to take than the first. The second suite sale is easier than the first. The first role play in front of your peers sucks WAY more than the second. And on, and on, and on. Dale Carnegie said it best right here. The best salespeople are the most action-oriented and courageous. Are you 'analysis paralysis' or 'Action Fucking Jackson'?