Major League Soccer’s National Sales Center (MLSNSC), which I wrote about almost eight months ago, recently sent their fifth set of graduates into the difficult environment of selling soccer tickets in a down economy. To refresh your memory, the MLSNSC is (and I quote from their official website) “a highly selective 45 day sales training program, this experience provides a one-of-kind learning environment and exposure to the fundamentals of MLS ticket selling. Trainees will have the opportunity to apply what they are learning to actual selling of season, group and mini plan ticket inventory for different MLS clubs during the program. At the conclusion of the session, those trainees earning specific benchmarks throughout the program will have the opportunity to interview for sales positions at MLS clubs.”
Bryant Pfeiffer, Vice President of Club Services for MLS, commented on the changes that were made over the course of the first five sessions. “Initially we were thinking we would try to facilitate close to 6-7 sessions in 2011,” commented Pfeiffer. “After getting a better handle on both recruiting and placement flow in 2010 we felt it worked better to run four total sessions in 2011 that were more spaced out in between them.”
In terms of placement for the first four sessions, 40 candidates went through the program with 39 of those securing employment with an MLS club. Many of those graduates continue to keep tabs on each other. Jacob Hanselman, a graduate of Session IV, was hired by the Chicago Fire in March 2011. “Since we have been out at teams we keep an email chain that we are able to share stories with the entire group about different situations that have occurred or tips on questions some people have,” said Hansleman. “We grew to be very close and there hasn’t been a week were you won’t get a phone call from someone in the session or talk on Facebook comparing numbers and how everyone has been successful. I wouldn’t have been able to have the success that I have had thus far without any of the other 10 people that were in session IV not having a profound impact on me.”
One of the most valuable tools in the program is the instant feedback each candidate gets regarding their techniques. The feedback is not based solely on whether a sale was made or not. Pfeiffer mentioned, “We have added much more emphasis on video and audio recording of sales calls as an instant feedback tool. Trainees have consistently highly rated the impact this technology has on their development.” For Hanselman, the feedback was invaluable. “The most challenging part of the session for me was the refining of the sales process,” commented Hanselman. “Every one of our calls at the MLSNSC was taped, so even when you did make what you thought was a good call, we could go back and analyze and break it down; much like watching game tape. After each one you would see that we still had a lot of room for improvement.”
It’s easy to see after the first five sessions that the MLSNSC is going strong. “Fourteen MLS clubs have either hired or interviewed National Sales Center graduates,” said Pfeiffer. “Dallas and Houston have both hired six graduates so far.” With the blessing of the MLS head office, and strong recommendations from it’s previous graduates, MLSNSC will begin it’s sixth session on July 25th.
A successful candidate will “show a strong to desire to keep improving themselves, a strong competitive spirit, and refuse to be outworked wherever they are.” If that describes you, you can apply by visiting the MLSNSC website, scrolling to the bottom and clicking ‘Apply now.’