Name: Bill Fagan
Current Job Title: General Manager - Fan Relationship Management
Company Name: The Aspire Group (www.theaspiregroupinc.com)
First sports job:
- Internship: Sponsorship Intern – Orange Bowl Committee
- Full-Time: Inside Sales Consultant – Phoenix Suns
College education: University of Miami; Bachelor of Business Administration; Major: Marketing; Minor: Sports Management.
Executive most admired: Theo Epstein (General Manager, Boston Red Sox)
Brand most admired: Apple
Currently Bill is the General Manager - Fan Relationship Management for The Aspire Group, a global sport and entertainment company, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Bill oversees all client relationships and management of the Fan Relationship Management Centers worldwide. Starting with the first installation at Georgia Tech, he is responsible for building the business globally through outstanding client servicing, implementing next-practices coupled with his own unique experiences and techniques. He recruits the best and hungriest sales talent available and develops them into future industry leaders, thereby maximizing sales revenues. Currently Aspire operates five (5) Fan Relationship Management Centers and will be opening several more in 2011.
Bill began his sports career with Internships at the Orange Bowl Committee & the Miami Dolphins (NFL) and after graduating from the University of Miami, Bill began his sports sales career with the Phoenix Suns as an Inside Sales Consultant. While working with the Suns, Bill also was responsible for selling the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), Phoenix Roadrunners (ECHL) & Arizona Rattlers (AFL). As top revenue producer for the Suns, Fagan was promoted to Marketing Partnership/Sponsorship sales with the Phoenix RoadRunners (ECHL). From there he was recruited away to be the Director of Sales and Service with the Moncton Wildcats of the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL). Bill moved back to the USA in 2008 to become the Inside Sales Manager of the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) where he oversaw a ticket sales team of nine (9) Sales Consultants.
Tell us a little about your first job in the sports industry. How did you land it?
While attending the University of Miami, I was always very active outside of the classroom. I worked 30-40 hours per week throughout the majority of my time in school. While my motives for working were to pay bills and live comfortably, it was unclear to me what my career path would be with my Business/ Marketing degree. During my Junior year, I took an elective class titled ‘Careers in Sports’. This class changed my life. Each class we had a guest speaker from the Sports & Entertainment industry visit with us and share their story. During one of the early sessions, an Executive from the Orange Bowl Committee visited with us and ended their session by telling us about an unpaid Internship they had available. I immediately approached the guest speaker after class and expressed my keen interest. Shortly after a few interviews I was hired as the Sponsorship Intern. My responsibilities included assisting with the creation of Marketing proposals to prospective sponsors, and coordinating sponsor events.
My first full-time position was with the Phoenix Suns as an Inside Sales Consultant. I landed this position after applying to over 150 jobs around the country.
What advice would you give to students looking to make sports their career?
Get involved and network early and often in your career search. For those applicants who are currently enrolled in University I encourage you to apply for internships in any and all areas of sport. You may desire to ultimately land in a Marketing or Community Relations position, but don’t limit yourself to only applying for internships and entry level positions in these departments. It’s never too early to get involved and volunteer with local sports teams, university athletic departments or sport governing bodies. Use the summer months to expand your reach geographically and be open to moving out of state for a summer internship. These early experiences and the relationships you form will shape your career. My last word of advice is to seek out sports professionals and find a mentor. In addition to using sports job websites, take it upon yourself to contact sports professionals directly and ask them for an informational call or even to a cup of coffee if you are local. Use social networks and the internet to track these people down. Most sports professionals use www.linkedin.com and nearly everyone can be located on their company website. The success you have in building relationships will be 100% dependent on how much effort and time you invest in this process. Treat the job hunt like a job in itself and before you know it you’ll be working in the most rewarding industry!
When hiring, what major traits do you look for in a candidate?
With The Aspire Group, we seek candidates who are passionate about growing their careers in sports business. We do not require any sports or sales experience for entry level Sales Consultants. Instead, we seek individuals who have a thirst for learning, a tireless work ethic and a strong desire to reach the top. Once a new Sales Consultant is hired, we provide them comprehensive training (5-8 days). Our ‘Raise Your Game Executive Development Program’ provides ongoing weekly and monthly training sessions which sets them on a fast-track path to becoming Team Leaders and Managers and ultimately prepare them for the CEO/ CMO/ Athletic Director’s chair. Those who succeed in this program consistently display a commitment to excellence paired with ‘doing right’ at all times.
Where do you see hiring in the sports industry heading in the next 3 years?
I expect to see the following trends in sports industry hiring in the next 3 years:
University Athletic Departments hiring Ticket Sales Representatives who proactively make outbound calls to sell tickets. Many Universities will choose to outsource to companies such as The Aspire Group, while others will choose to build and manage their own internal staffs.
Sports Teams, Leagues & Athletic Departments investing resources into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and professionals who can manage the functionality to help drive revenues.
Sports Teams, Leagues & Athletic Departments investing resources into Intelligent E-Marketing & Social Media capabilities and professionals who can manage the functionality to help drive revenues.