Welcome to another edition of Inside the SportsBiz Studio! This is my version of Inside the Actor’s Studio where I will feature a Q&A with another sports business professional willing to share insights from their career and opinions about the state of the industry. Just like the TV show, there will be some common questions that everyone answers as well as questions tailored to each individual’s background in the industry.
Our next guest is Bob Hamer, President of Sports Business Solutions.
What was your first #sportsbiz job?
I was an intern with the Charlotte Bobcats & Sting during the Summer of 2005.
What was one lesson from that first job you still carry with you today?
The importance of learning and building relationships. We can always get better, and this industry is all about your network.
Who was a key mentor for you and how did they help?
My first boss Jeff Ianello. He gave me my first full time opportunity in Inside Sales at the Suns in 2006. He constantly pushed and challenged me to get better and it wasn’t always easy but he was always there when I needed help too. He saw something in me early on and continued giving me additional responsibilities and room to grow my career. I owe a lot of my professional success to him.
What sports brand or organization do you hold in the highest regard and why?
It’s hard to pick one and I have a lot of teams I’m close to that I really respect, but I’d say in general the NBA and its family of teams. What they do with their TMBO (Team Marketing and Business Operations) consulting group and how they share best practices to elevate the performance of all of the teams is very impressive and something I’ve always admired.
What is one industry trend you are closely monitoring over the next 12 months?
Social selling and sports sales 2.0. The game is changing and I’m eager to see how teams utilize data and technology to be more efficient in their sales processes.
What one professional accomplishment are you most proud of today?
Becoming a Vice President in the NBA. I never could have imagined it in my wildest dreams. And to do it all in Phoenix with the Suns, a team I loved working for in a market I loved living in was really special. There aren’t many examples of someone starting in Inside Sales and ending up as a VP with the same team, I’m very proud of that.
In your time at the Suns, how did you see the landscape of ticket sales change?
Data & technology. Getting smarter about our pricing (variable and dynamic), more information on our customers, sourcing our sales and focusing our efforts where we saw the greatest return. In general, operating the business more strategically. We’ve come a long way from the phone book!
Everyone is focused on how millennials are different as both customers and employees. How do you see this affecting the industry?
I think it’s exciting! They bring a knowledge of digital and social media that I think is vital long term. They want to know the why behind what we do and want continual coaching, training and development, all of which will help create a more engaged work force that’s developing constantly. It’s a more fluid work environment which keeps it new and fresh, I think that’s all very positive. In terms of customers, people will always love sports and entertainment, and they’ll see business value in being a partner with sports teams so I don’t think it’ll change too much there.
What is one underrated skill that you look for when recruiting new talent?
Ambition. I want to find people that want to be the best at what they do and are willing to put in the time and energy necessary to do so. We can teach and train you but we can’t teach the intangibles like hard work and passion.
What can candidates do to make themselves stand out better, from their resume all the way to the interview?
Go beyond just applying for the job. Be proactive, develop relationships with people in the organization, get connected through a mutual contact. If you’re referred over to a hiring manager for a job you’re much more likely to get an interview than applying cold. Don’t play the waiting game, go out and get it.