How to grow your career in sport sales

by nick szpur - manager, inside sales - san jose sharks
February 28, 2019

“Nick, how did you get to where you are in your career?” “Nick, in your opinion what does it take to be successful in sport sales?” “Nick, what are you looking for in a potential new hire?” These are three questions I am frequently asked while interviewing candidates for my Inside Sales team. They all have the same answer: Work Ethic, Coach-ability, Positive Attitude.

Work ethic. “It's not what you know, it's not who you know, it's who knows you” - Chad Collard of the Tampa Bay Rays said this to me during my internship there. I’ve advanced at all stages of my career because of my work ethic. Industry professionals and hiring managers know me as a reliable worker who can go above and beyond the call of duty. How can you show great work ethic? To me, there is one obvious area, the hustle board. Don't just meet expectations; go above and beyond the metrics for phone calls, appointments set, and appointments completed. Smash the hustle board regularly and you can create opportunities for yourself in this business.

Coach-ability. I define this as your ability to hear and apply coaching given to you, whether it’s positive reinforcement or constructive criticism. News flash! If your boss gives you some harsh coaching, it’s not because he/she is a jerk, it’s because they want to help you grow a career. I love constructive criticism. I seek it out to this day and when given, I act on it. It feeds me and constantly helps me evolve. If you aren’t looking for feedback, you’re missing out. Trust the process and your leadership team (no matter your tenure and your title). Be incredibly open to their coaching and guidance, they can help you build a career in this business.

Positive attitude. There will be curveballs, rejection, and challenging times for you in this business, and they’ll happen at each stage of your career. But how you handle that is up to you! Will you come into work and complain, gossip, and be negative, OR will you come into work and smile, cheer on your teammates, and think about how lucky you are? We are so unbelievably blessed to work in sports, hundreds (if not thousands) would love to be in our shoes! That alone should make you smile. It’s so hard to get into in this industry. If you’re lucky enough to make it, don't squander it because of your negative attitude. Be a teammate people want to be around and be someone they can feed off of because of your positive energy. If you are a positive influence on your culture, you`ll develop great equity at your team, build great relationships with your boss(es), and it can springboard your career.

Work ethic, coach-ability, and positive attitude are all controllable characteristics. You control them each day. Go above and beyond in all three areas and you can grow your career in sport sales. I made these traits a priority and they've helped me get to where I am today. I've been lucky to be surrounded by great people in my personal and professional life who have supported and helped me get where I am today. So, for the college recruits reading this, I encourage you to think about your work ethic, coach-ability, and attitude, and the people you want to align yourself with. Together, with the right focus, you too can grow a successful career in sport sales. Good luck!


Nick is currently the Inside Sales Manager for the San Jose Sharks. Prior to the Sharks, Nick worked for the New York Mets for four and a half years starting his career in Inside Sales. Nick is a Fordham Prep 08' and Penn State 12'  grad who grew up in Ossining, New York.