Sports sales team takes fourth at National Collegiate Sports Sales Competition

(Photo courtesy of Katie Horton)

The Kansas State sports sales team finished in fourth place at the National Collegiate Sports Sales Competition. Thirty universities and over 120 students competed.

The competition involved a role-play scenario where students sold premium ticket packages for the Atlanta Hawks NBA Team. In the role-play, packages were sold to potential buyers who represented bigger companies in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

The “buyers” were actually recruiters for various professional and collegiate sports organizations.

The entirely-virtual competition consisted of three 20-minute rounds held each Wednesday since Feb. 17. The following Mondays, judges notified students if they moved to the next round.

The final round only took the top eight competitors, which included Bailey Short, senior in marketing and mass communications, who finished seventh.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Short
Photo courtesy of Bailey Short

Short said she attributed her success to her coaches — marketing associate professor Doug Walker, National Strategic Selling Institute managing director Kellie Jackson and student-coach and senior in marketing and professional strategic selling Katie Horton.

“They really helped us prepare for the competition,” Short said. “We spent weeks before practicing which really helped me out. Otherwise, I would’ve had no idea what I was doing.”

Jack Boedeker, senior in marketing and professional strategic selling, said he thinks K-State has one of the best sales programs in the country and helped lay the groundwork for its success.

Photo courtesy of Jack Boedeker
Photo courtesy of Jack Boedeker

“I feel like we were probably as prepared or more prepared than any other team in this competition because of our sales program,” Boedeker said. “The practice role-plays we did with Katie, Doug Walker and Kellie were pretty spot-on to the real thing.”

For each round, judges watched the recorded negotiation process and scored team performances based on the rubric.

Horton said to fully prepare for the competition, the team studied the rubric, which included each ticket package option, the prices and the number of people each suite could hold.

As part of the sales team for four years, Horton said she has a lot of experience doing internal and external sales competitions, but her sports sales background is slim. However, her experience in other sales competitions still applied.

“I helped the team with the process of a sales call, how to win points using the rubric, how to fill an introduction and presentation materials,” Horton said. “I primarily helped with the sales side and not the sports side.”

The team practiced over Zoom every Monday, going through different role-play scenarios.

Horton said it’s more stressful competing than coaching.

“It’s more stressful competing because you are representing K-State, you’re competing against other schools and there are recruiters watching you,” Horton said. “It’s very rewarding when you are coaching, and to see other people do well, and know you helped them succeed. I’m super proud of them.”

The competition also allowed time for students to make connections with recruiters, set up interviews and even receive job offers.

Photo courtesy of Kylee Stec
Photo courtesy of Kylee Stec

“We got to talk to employers in the sports world,” Kylee Stec, senior in marketing, said. “It gave us a good idea of what a career in the sports world would look like.”

Short said she had the chance to make connections with people in the Phoenix Suns organization along with two other teams in the NBA and MLS.

Katherine Trumble, senior in marketing and professional strategic selling, joined the sports sales team because she said sales have always been a part of her life.

“Sales has always come very naturally to me,” Trumble said. “I was always the person that did the fundraisers in school.”

Photo courtesy of Katherine Trumble
Photo courtesy of Katherine Trumble

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the competition, usually held in Atlanta, was held virtually. Stec and Trumble both said they were hurt.

“I always like to be in-person,” Stec said. “When you’re in person you can see the aura of a person — how they walk, how they talk. When you’re on Zoom, all you see is their face.”

Similarly, Trumble said not having the cues when in-person was a lot different.

The four students who competed also share a commonality of being a part of the business of sports and entertainment certificate program. They plan to meet and have dinner to celebrate their fourth-place finish.