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Steve DeLay's picture


Suppose one of your top salespeople comes in to your office, shuts your door behind them and says, “Got a minute?”

“Oh-no” you think. This usually doesn’t end well.

Yep, just as you feared, he’s taking a new job outside of the sports industry.

You groan. Great, you think. Time to post the job - review hundreds of resumes, most of them complete stiffs – interview 20 candidates by phone – bring 4-5 in for in-person interviews and pick one to hire. Just the hiring process could take a few months - months of lost sales. And, the whole process is just painful.

Once you’ve hired the new salesperson, you have to put him/her through some type of abbreviated training and hope like heck you guessed right. Six months later, you’ll have a pretty good idea if you hired a potential superstar, a middle of the road performer or a stiff.


What if you knew a way to only hire people who had already been trained in the ticket sales techniques your team employs?

Fat chance you might say. You know that nobody coming out of college has any ticket sales training and someone outside of the industry doesn’t know a thing about ticket sales. You figure that this must mean you have to steal a new salesperson away from another team. That could be very costly.

No so.

If you’re one of the 90+ teams using The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House as your ticket sales strategy and training system, two schools have decided to make life easy for you.

Illinois State University and the University of Iowa are now teaching ticket sales classes using The Ultimate Toolkit as the basis for the class curriculum. The first half of the semester is spent on ticket sales strategy such as The Sellout Mentality, Full Menu Marketing, pricing strategy and customer service. The second half of the semester is spent on actually training the students on two key elements of ticket sales:

  1. How to get an appointment with the top executive of a company.
  2. How to make a sales presentation to that executive to get them to buy something.

These two skills are tremendously valuable for any ticket salesperson. Imagine being able to hire salespeople who already understand the basics of ticket sales marketing and already have the skills to get an appointment and make a presentation? You can now do that if you recruit at Illinois State and University of Iowa.


Most students tell their professors they want nothing to do with ticket sales. They might consider tickets as a starting point before they try to move in to marketing or public relations or community relations. My feeling is their reason for fearing ticket sales is lack of knowledge and practice. If they’ve never been taught how to effectively sell tickets – and I mean more than just an hour or two of an industry professional giving them pointers during a class – of course they would be fearful.

Think back to when you were learning to drive. If your driving instructor had plopped you on the freeway at 60 mph with little or no training and said basically “Good luck” , you would have been scared to death to drive, something we do now without even thinking.

Here’s what a few of the first students at Illinois State University had to say after last semester’s class:

"Upon entering my ticket sales class I thought that selling tickets was a lousy job and one that I would never see myself doing. It's a very unique profession and I'm fascinated by the constant challenge of improving on past and current performances. Although I currently don't hold a job in ticket sales, I am much more excited about the idea if the right situation presents itself."
- Kayode Adegoke – M.S. Graduate May 2015

“My personal experiences using the Toolkit strategies have helped me immensely on the phone selling for ISU Athletics. The Toolkit provided me with a sense of direction. I saw an opportunity with national anthems and began selling them to school choirs/bands/music groups at the group rate. These national anthem group sales have been extremely successful so far and currently account for over 50% of our men’s basketball group sales.”
- Kevin Kowynia – Graduate student working part-time in ISU Athletics


Normally, when you’re interviewing candidates to fill a sales position, you have hundreds to choose from. If one candidate hesitates, you have ten more to consider that could fill the bill. After all, it looks like they all have the same skill level and none of that includes intense ticket sales training.

With the students at Illinois State and Iowa, the tables are most likely going to be turned. These students - provided they complete the class and do their sales video - will be in high demand. A team looking to recruit well-trained salespeople should plan on putting on their recruiting hat. In fact, I recommend reaching out to both professors and talk about being a Skype visitor during the semester and also going to campus to interview and recruit the students. Being a Skype visitor and going to campus gives you a leg up on anyone else looking to recruit well-trained future sales superstars.


The two professors teaching from The Ultimate Toolkit are:

  • Clint Warren ( is the professor at Illinois State teaching the class. His first class was the fall semester. Here’s what he had to say.

”My students have a new appreciation of ticket sales. Investing in The Ultimate Toolkit has been a tremendous benefit to the students at Illinois State. With a significant industry need for well-trained (or easily trainable) entry level sales employees, the Toolkit is an exceptional way to give students a head start. Further, adopting the Toolkit for our sales course and independent study partnerships has enhanced our student's networking potential. "

  • Clint Huntrods is teaching the University of Iowa’s class this semester. He has about 40 students learning the nuts and bolts of ticket sales and going through Ultimate Toolkit sales training. I spoke via Skype to those students a few weeks ago and told them what they are learning will put them head and shoulders above any other candidate they will complete with for a job. You can reach Iowa’s Clint at

Clint and Clint are both smart professors. They aren’t going to steer their students to teams or colleges for full-time jobs that don’t aggressively train salespeople in the same techniques they are learning in class from The Ultimate Toolkit. If your team believes heavily in telemarketing or discounting or packaging a few good games with dog games or just training for a couple hours, don’t bother calling them. They want their students to succeed in the sports world using the techniques they were taught from The Ultimate Toolkit. The more students they have that succeed, the more future students will want to go to their schools.

As a team, you should want your salespeople to succeed as well. The best way to have that happen is hire students who are already primed for success because of what they learned at Illinois State and Iowa.

To learn more about how your sports marketing program can teach the techniques of The Ultimate Toolkit or how your team can use The Ultimate Toolkit and develop a recruiting pipeline to these schools or others near you, just send me an email at or give me a call at 702-493-2661.

Steve DeLay is co-author of "The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House", a complete, comprehensive system of marketing strategy and training tools for teams and colleges to sell more tickets. Steve has more than 20 years experience helping teams sell more tickets and sponsorships. He can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeLay2.

Check out past Ticket Sales Thursday posts on The Migala Report.

Check out past Ticket Sales and Service articles on The Migala Report.

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