#MySportsBizStart - Steve Romano: "5 tips for success"

by Steve romano - sr. account executive at the new jersey devils (hbse)
March 05, 2020

My journey to be a Senior Account Executive, Business Development with the New Jersey Devils (Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment) began late in my senior year of college.

Let me start by taking you back to February 2015. I’m finishing up my senior hockey season at Monmouth University. Suddenly it hit me, I’m never going to play a meaningful hockey game again in my life. Fortunately, I knew for years that I would work in sports in some capacity once I graduated. I had previously worked two minor league baseball internships. For anyone who has never worked in minor league sports, it is an all hands-on deck experience. I was the marketing intern but helped with ticket sales, in game promotions, partnerships, and yes, I helped pull tarp too. These experiences helped me get a crash course into what the sports business was really like.

A couple of days after my season ended, I was scrolling through LinkedIn where I came across a Ticket Sales Workshop posting by Bob Hamer. In the fall of my senior year, I took a sports marketing class. My professor (who has since become my mentor) worked for the National Hockey League. He covered all the roles in the front office of a sports team but one thing that he constantly harped on was ticket sales. I had never had any true ticket sales experience before but figured it would be worth looking into. So, a couple weeks later I walked into the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ for the Bob Hamer Sports Sales Combine. The two-day event gave me hands on experience into what a ticket sales role would be like and it also included professional training from 15 different teams in sports. Fortunately for me, I learned that sales was an outlet for the competition I loved from playing sports my entire life. At the end of the combine event, I was fortunate to interview with several teams and I ultimately accepted a job with my childhood team, the New Jersey Devils.

June 1st 2015, I walked into the Prudential Center to begin my career as a Ticket Sales Associate. The Devils had my inside sales class go through a two week on-boarding process before we ever made a phone call. This helped me build up my skills and gave me the confidence I needed to be successful in the role. I will forever be grateful to my first inside sales manager (Dustin McCorkle). I thought he would teach me how to be a successful sales rep, but he taught me how to be a successful adult and professional. I can still remember some of the questionable shirt & tie combinations I would wear to the office and the big loose suits. Dustin, I can’t thank you enough for fixing that for me.

Now that I'm in my 5th season with the Devils, I wanted to share some advice on what helped me become successful.

Tips for Success:

1. Work for The Right People: I didn’t choose the Devils because they were my favorite team growing up. I chose to work for the Devils because the leadership team was one that I felt would push me and help me grow my career. Far too often people tell me that they want to work for a certain team because that is their favorite team. You should never work for a team just because you like that team. Make sure you are working for people who are going to make you better and help you grow through the industry.

2. Positivity is Crucial: Sales is a roller coaster. Some days you will be on top of the world and other days you will feel like you took a punch from a heavyweight boxer. Sales is a contact sport. There is a great quote from Urban Myer where he says, “Contact will be made.” We cannot be afraid to be hung up on, told no from a prospect, or cursed out. If you let that stuff get to you, then you will not be successful in sales. What helped me be successful in my role is staying even keel. Whether you are on a sales streak or haven’t sold in three weeks, you have to maintain the same attitude. At the end of the day, if you are focusing on the right behaviors and perfecting your craft then success is going to come.

3. Be Open to Change: Whether it is adjusting your sales process or being willing to change what product you sell, there is always going to be change. In my five years here at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, I have had two VP’s, two Directors, and six direct managers. Each time change happened, I viewed it as a positive and kept my energy focused on my professional goals. Sports is an ever-changing industry and those who are open to it are the most successful.

4. Perception is Reality: I received this advice from my inside sales manager and it has stuck with me to this day. We all have our idea of how others view us. But do we actually know how they view us? You may think you are a great teammate but if your teammates perceive you as a bad teammate, then that is your reality. Another example is, you're working hard all day... except twice you decide to scroll through ESPN on your computer, and then your VP walks by. You know that you've worked hard all day but now your VP thinks you’re the ESPN guy.

5. Hustle: Sales is a numbers game. If you outwork your coworkers, you are going to generate more sales and move up in your career quicker. I compare phone calls to plate appearances in baseball. A player who gets fifty more plate appearances in a season is going to get more hits than someone who has fifty less than them. If you make five more calls than your coworkers, that’s twenty-five more per week which over time will lead to more sales.

Hope you find this post to be valuable and best of luck to all of you out there pursuing your goals in sports.


Steve Romano is a Senior Account Executive in Business Development with the New Jersey Devils and Harris Blitzer sports & Entertainment. He's been with the team for nearly 5 years and it was the first job he had out of college. During that time he's been promoted three times. He started his career at the Sports Sales Combine hiring and training event in New Jersey in the Spring of 15'. He's living proof that if you work hard and stay positive you can achieve success. You can connect with Steve on LinkedIN here.