A Sports and Entertainment Perspective on Sales and Marketing with Bill Guertin


Bill Guertin shares his unique perspective from the sports and entertainment industry. He explains how sales and marketing strategies from the industry also apply to the B2B industry.  


Bill Guertin is an expert sales trainer, professional speaker, emcee, and presenter. He is the chief learning officer at ISBI 360 LLC and works with select businesses to generate more revenue based on “Best Practices” in Pro Sports. He is also the author of “The 800 Pound Gorilla of Sales: How to Dominate Your Market.”



Billy Bateman 0:02   

All right, everyone. Welcome to the show today. I am your host, Billy Bateman. And today I am joined by the great Bill Guertin. Bill, how you doing, man? 

Bill Guertin 0:12   

I’m great. It’s good to have you here. But I really appreciate the invitation to be here. So, thanks for having me.  

Billy Bateman 0:17   

Yeah, yeah, really excited. I think this will be a little different style of conversation than we usually have. But I think it’s a good change, a nice change of pace from what we usually do. And talking about your background and what you guys do. So, if anyone hasn’t heard of Bill, author of the 800-pound gorilla of sales, and then he’s the chief learning officer at ISBI, which is the inspiration sports Business Institute. So, Bill, first, tell us a little bit about ISBI. 


Bill Guertin 0:50   

Well, it’s a digital learning platform, which we created specifically for the business side of sports and entertainment, it was very obvious to us, as we started the company four or five years ago, that there was not a specific digital answer to the type of training that people have been doing around the world at Cisco, and Google, and many, many other nationwide, worldwide companies, in what’s called micro learning, and that’s teaching in 10 minutes or less video increments. 

I’ve been training for a very long time. Most of my stuff has been two- and three-day firehose style exercises. What we’re actually finding now is, with today’s workforce, smaller bite size increments can actually increase the types of habits that we want to form by as much as 80% better. So, it’s kind of exciting to be a part of that cutting edge, especially in an industry that isn’t necessarily always as cutting edge as it may appear on the outside. That’s sports and entertainment. 

Billy Bateman 1:46   

Yeah, yeah. So, tell us a little bit, you got a really interesting background, man. So, I actually want to back us up just a little bit, and, and tell everyone how you got into selling tickets and coaching people for the sports and entertainment industry. 


Bill Guertin 2:01   

Well, nobody ever starts where they think they’re going to it. Nobody ends up where they think they’re going to end up. Once you start and I was destined to be a radio broadcaster. That was what my life was supposed to be at age 16. So, I got the third-class radio operator’s license. Which is what you had to have when you were on radio at that time. I became the youngest licensed working radio broadcaster in the state of Illinois at 16. 

At 21, I figured out very quickly where the money was. And it was not on the air, it was in the sales department. So, I gravitated into the sales department. The advertising sales department of small market radio stations in and around the Chicago area. I did that for upwards of 20 years. Really enjoyed the work that we were doing as salesperson sales manager, General Manager. And then ultimately owner of the station, part owner of a station for a time. 

Then I saw this, the iPod. When I saw this, I said if you could put 1000 songs in your pocket, why in the world do you need local radio? So that’s what I chose. I said, I need to find something else I can be relevant to other than local radio. So, I looked at two things that I really loved to do. When those which was training, really enjoyed sports and wanted to be a published author. I had this whole bucket list of things that I wanted to do. And literally wrote out 101 goals that I wanted to accomplish. 

And I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve about the mid 80s of them since that writing not too long ago. So, I began doing sales training for sports teams based on a customer service seminar. I did and the gentleman from the White Sox Venema, Tom Sheridan came up and said, Man, we could truly use your energy in sports. You know, there are people that actually travel around the country and train ticket sales departments.  

I had no idea. Yeah. And so that’s really how it began. And so, I’ve had the good fortune over my career to work with over 100 different sports organizations throughout the US, Canada and Mexico, and then just formed this comparation with several other executives in sports five years ago. 

Billy Bateman 4:00   

Awesome, awesome. So, you guys, train people, and get people excited to buy tickets is a whole different sell, then, you know, most of our audience sells software or, or other services to businesses. Now, a lot of businesses buy tickets, you know, we have some tickets to BYU that we share with the employees. And with people we’re trying to do business with their customers. But um, you know, like, what is what I want to talk about is how, you know, how do you get people excited about buying these products or which is an entertainment product? 

And then where do you think there’s things to be learned for the b2b side of things, where we’re selling things like software or just you know, services, outsourced it, services to businesses, not really that exciting in a lot of ways, as exciting as you know, watching Michael Jordan play basketball or your favorite football team win a game, you know. So, let’s just start there, and I’m going to turn it over to you and let you let you take us through what you what you’ve done. 

Every Product Has a Story to Tell

Bill Guertin 5:04   

Every story has a product, or every product has a story. Sorry. That’s what I meant to say. Every product has a story to tell. In sports, the product is so front facing and so obvious that you would think that that’s all that sports should sell. BYU has had ups and downs years, certainly there’s been some fantastic years and some people that we’re really excited about the team’s progress. And then other years, you can probably right off the saying, well, that’s rebuilding.  

But the reason to go has nothing to do or should not be withheld on whether the team wins or loses. The thing that we train most in sports sales is you’re not selling the game; you’re selling what happens to people as a result of the sporting event. And that would be relationships that you build with some alumni that you go to a client or two that you might bring to the BYU game, it may be time with family or, or a group that you may bring in fellowship as a church or whatever it is, you might be there to do. 

In fact, many people who come as a group, very rarely even know what the score was, or maybe who even won the game. Yeah, really, they’re just to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy the moment. And so, if those people who are selling sell the end result, the product of your product, then people will be less likely to be disappointed First of all, and secondly, always see the good that comes from an event itself. Even if BYU loses a lot of time, they’ve actually won because of the experiences they’ve had with the people they’ve been with. 

Billy Bateman 6:28   

I love it. My wife, when she goes to the game, really does not care. If any who wins or loses other than she knows I’m going to be in a bad mood for a little while if BYU loses. She’s just there to hang out with everybody. 

Super Bowl

Bill Guertin 6:42   

Well, and that’s true. Let’s pick a Super Bowl party, for example, everybody goes to a Super Bowl party for a very different reason. Some people go because they’re really excited to see one of the two teams win. Or they’re excited because they get dressed up and hang out with friends of theirs. Other people want to be sure that the bean dip is the best, or whatever it is. I mean, everybody’s got a different reason to go. But everybody’s there at home or wherever you happen to have a party for a specific purpose. And that’s a lot like a sporting event. 

Many people go not simply to see the team win or to lose, but to enjoy the moment and the experience. And that moment starts when you buy the ticket. Because there’s anticipation value that takes place. And for all those people listening today, much of when you sell software, or whatever it is that you sell, there is some anticipation value that you sell in being able to cure the problem that your software provides or getting involved with them being more productive. Whatever happens to be you part of the sales process is helping people get excited about being involved with you from the very get-go. 

Billy Bateman 7:43   

I love it, man. I think there’s some definitely truth there. Whatever we’re selling, you’re selling a solution and a better tomorrow, in some way, you know. So, with like cold calling, I don’t know how I got on this list. But when I was a student, going to BYU, actually, I got cold called by guys trying to sell me jazz tickets. And the jazz was awful at the time they were they were awful.  

So, I guess they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. I definitely did not have money to buy anything other than the tickets at the very top. But when you guys, you know, you’re cold calling people, maybe the team is down, and interest is not, not what it is when they’re winning. How do you get that conversation started with somebody? 

Lead Generation Strategy

Bill Guertin 8:33   

Well, on the prospecting side, you do have to cast a wider net. You know, certainly today, the teams that are doing super well did not have to work hard to sell a lot of the tickets. The Green Bay Packers, for example, have no problem selling out most of what they have at Lambeau or wherever they’re playing. You have some other teams that still struggle and being able to fill the stands.  

So, they have to look a little deeper and perhaps go deeper than they might normally have to in order to make that happen. My guess is you probably filled out have registered a wind forum somewhere. You may have been a group at some other point going through a jazz game. And so, you put your name and address and I had to be able to draw jersey of some sort. I don’t know what happened. But it sometimes comes down to if you visited jazz calm and bought a pennant online or something like that it comes down to as simple as that.  

So that’s how the lead generation takes place. There’s also some scoring that takes place and lead generation companies can actually scrape some data about you and others. You there that may have a propensity to want to go because college students like to do fun things together. And they may have offered you the very cheapest thing. Or at least expensive thing value priced thing can’t say cheapest value price inventory to be able to go with that.  

So that’s how that would have happened. And so, what’s necessary when you get a lead to be able to call in any sense is to get a feel for you know what source have experience someone really likes. And that’s no different than what you’re selling, whether you’re selling cars or software, wherever that is, to ask them what they’ve experienced in the past, you know, what is it that they’ve enjoyed in the past.  

If somebody has never been to a sporting event before, it’s probably unlikely that they’re going to spend $300 or more for a really good seat to a sporting event there. You’re going to have to kind of start from the bottom, and they kind of work their way up. But if somebody has been to several events, or several kinds of events, and has told you where they’ve set before, you have some sort of indication as to what they value in that experience. And you can start from there. But where it starts, after you get someone on the phone. It’s just a really good line of questioning based on whatever knowledge you have before they answer the phone. 


Billy Bateman 10:46   

I love it, man, I love it. So, I want to, I want to hit on your training a little bit. And you guys, you’ve obviously, you know, a lot of people are working from home now. And that trend will probably continue not as heavy as it is now, but significantly more than it was a year and a half ago. With your training, you guys are doing a virtual, a lot of you know, software companies have done tons of virtual training for years, but I don’t think it’s always effective.  

You know, sometimes we buy a new product, and we sit down to like five 20-minute modules. And I’m just like, I don’t know, if I’m going to get through all of these. And I’ll ask somebody else. Well, how do I just start asking the guy next to me? I will, how do we do this to get out? How did you guys come to, to make everything virtual? And what have you found to be effective is, as people were building Virtual Training, what have you guys found to be effective to actually make that training good for the end user? 

The Science of Tiny Habits

Bill Guertin 11:49   

Well, we started with the concept that was pioneered by BJ Fogg of Stanford University, and the science of tiny habits. And what Dr. Fogg had pioneered and what many people have used around the nation and around the world, is the fact that smaller is better. Smaller increments that are learned and can be applied right away, are a better way in which to train so that you build habits sooner. I would go into a place for two or three days at a time and still do on occasion, to a team that really likes that one on one face to face sort of training.  

But I know that after a three-day firehose that they’ll be exposed to, some of it will stick. Yeah, some of it will trail off and never ever stick again. And so, what we’ve done with this philosophy is make sure to stay within Dr. Foggs, 10 minutes or less methodology. And to put things in there that make it more interesting to want to listen to this is the YouTube generation we’re talking about when they were training more likely. And so, they’re not going to listen to an hour lecture.  

It just isn’t in their DNA. They’ve done enough of that in school. Now they’re out of school, they’re done with that there’s none of that they want to do anymore. And so, we’ve designed a program that speaks to the age group, to the level of individuals that we’re talking about, and their attention spans are not very long. And so, we’ve designed this philosophy based on knowing how people learn today. 

Billy Bateman 13:13   

I love it. Like, I mean, I’m probably part of that YouTube generation. I become an amateur mechanic watching YouTube here, no fun. Sure, well. But the videos got to be short. Otherwise, I don’t even watch it. If it says it’s 58 minutes. I’ve got a really want to know how to solve this problem to watch that video. 

Bill Guertin 13:33   

And there’s another part of that is I don’t want to know how long this guy’s been servicing cars. Just wondering where the bolt goes to keep the oil in the pan 

Billy Bateman 13:43   

100% 100% some of these guys would come in, like I’m XYZ this this that the first five minutes is just them telling you they’re an expert. I don’t really care about you telling me. You’re the expert. Just show me what to do you know, and I’ll believe you. 

Getting Right to the Point

Bill Guertin 14:00   

That’s our philosophy as well. We don’t mince words. We get right to the point we show people what they need to say how they need to say it. What it is that’s necessary, whether it’s our customer service program, or leadership program, we have one on social media, another on sponsorship sales, and we have four more coming out here in the next 30 days that are somewhat ancillary to sports becoming more and more important.  

We have a module on gaming and eSports make sure that stick and ball teams can monetize gaming and eSports effectively. We have one and positive mental health coming out from a 20-year veteran of sports who actually crashed himself three years ago and now has made it his mission to make sure everyone knows about positive mental health and what to do to build up that muscle that called your brain.  

And we have another one on how to sell to and profit from great relationships with minority groups within your organization. Then we are within your community. And then we have another unsafety insecurity what to do in an active shooter situation. Or a potential abduction or a potential burglary. What to look for right and left so that you have situational awareness to be able to do something before it happens. So, we’re really excited about those. And we’ve incorporated our 10 minute or less methodology in every one of those. 

Billy Bateman 15:13   

I love it, man, I love it. So, I’m going to ask you a little bit of a tangent question on this. You guys have worked with hundreds, if not probably 1000s of sales reps over the years, and you’re, you’re not managed them, manage them day to day, you’re just giving them some trainings and coaching. But what have you found?  

You know, you go back, I’m sure to a lot of the same teams over and over again. What are the attributes you guys see in the most successful sales reps that you go back? And you know, Jim, or Jenny, like, they always hit the number they go past it? What do you see is the things you guys know that you’re like, Okay, these make our best, our best students. 

Finding Successful Sales Reps

Bill Guertin 15:55   

You know, we used to think we had it down. Then inevitably, somebody disappoints us or rises to the top that we weren’t expecting. So just like everything, human nature, it’s an inexact science. Yet, we have found a few positive attributes and a few negative ones with regard to selling for a sports team. The most negative one is really one you might find interesting is that we don’t want to hire fans.  

We don’t wish to hire people that only want to work for the team, because oh, I love the Cleveland Browns. Since I was six years old, I’ve been watching every single game, I watch all the highlights. That’s not what we do, you might get a different role with the team in some cases. But if you’re going to sell, we want people that are really interested in selling and just happen to sell something fairly sexy like sports team, the fan dumb of sports, actually puts people in a negative position when the team is not doing well.  

There was one individual I knew for the Miami Heat that sold for a very long time for them. And when the team went south, he couldn’t sell his way out of a paper bag, because he literally didn’t think the seats were worth it anymore. Yeah. And so that’s what ends up happening. So, you can’t be too big a fan of the team.  

You also can’t expect that you’re going to have an opportunity to meet LeBron James coming out of the limo in front of the building. That’s not your role. In fact, very many, very few of these people even get to see a game because they’re working during the entire game, the entire pregame, the entire postgame. So, you never ever get the chance to watch any of the 45 home games that you might have in the NBA or the NHL, it just doesn’t happen.  

And so, we have to eliminate some of those preconceived notions that people may have. So once those are out of the way, the things that we’ve noticed, too, then success habits or traits of those best people have been resilience. For those who are familiar with Angela Duckworth book called grit, it’s those sorts of things that that resilience that never can die sort of attitude. Because you may make a whole lot of phone calls and reach outs, and you may only have seven or eight different conversations in a day, only one of which may turn into success.  

And we hire a lot of division one athletes that have been popular or have been very successful their entire careers, and then all of a sudden, they come to work for a sports team and making 100 reach outs and having one conversation looks a whole lot like failure to them. Yeah. And so, what you really need is that grit resilience factor, the other is just the desire to learn from others.  

If someone comes in and says, I know exactly what I’m doing, just leave me alone, we know they’re going to fail, because we have best practices that we have to apply for them, we have to show them the best ways that others have done what it is we do now, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be successful down the road, but we want them to be successful sooner. It also really has to have a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit to you to succeed at this too.  

And I think that’s true of any salesperson, you know, when you go to work for an even a big company, like Intuit or whoever you might work for, you still have a brand that’s you. And the individual brand, that entrepreneurship that you bring to the table as a representative of whatever company you serve, has to be able to be front and center, you have to be self-confident. You have to be able to be true to yourself and be not afraid to gamble on yourself a little bit, you have to risk some of the things that you do every day to be able to receive the rewards that come from a great sales effort. So don’t be afraid to bet on yourself. 

Billy Bateman 19:21   

I love it man. Those are some of the same attributes, you know, we look for in our sales guys. It’s not a lot of software companies that you would find a raving fan of. In the same way you would you know, you’re the Browns or the jazz or the Lakers, whatever it is, but I love it man. I love that grit I think is really important. Because sales are a tough job. And yeah, I like one Connect. That’s a win but if you’re used to you know Scoring 30 points a game doesn’t look like a win.  

So, what that means is I was talking with one of my mentors who’s hired a lot of salespeople in. He loves to hire, hire athletes coming out of colleges, you know. But one of the things he notes, he noticed, and he shared with me, he said, you know. The guys who were the superstars on the team, not always the ones you want. And he even made the distinction that if they’ve done an individual sports, such as track, swimming, things like that, it was it seemed to be a little bit of an easier transition for him, as opposed to, you know, like basketball, football, soccer, things like that. Have you guys noticed anything like that? 

Correlation Between Sports

Bill Guertin 20:45   

Absolutely. There is indeed a correlation. And it isn’t always symbiotic where basketball players are not going to be as good as golfers. But there is more of the entrepreneurial spirit to someone who has played an individual sport and is used to failure and succeeding on their own without any outside influence without a teammate. Or to contributing to a win or a loss, you are the sole contributor to your win or your loss during the golf team.  

And so, there is some of that involved in salesmanship as well. And so there has been in our observance, a little bit better acceptance. Within the individual sports with salespeople versus the team sports doesn’t mean it knocks anybody out that’s been on the baseball team at all. But from an individual versus team perspective, we see there’s a slight edge to those individual sports that we see perform better. 

Billy Bateman 21:36   

Yeah, yeah, I, I can see it myself. I never played any individual sports in high school. I was always a team unless you want to count debate. Which I did and kind of a sport, but not really, you know, it’s competition.

Bill Guertin 21:49   

outside of sales. So, you’re okay, Billy. 

Billy Bateman 21:51   

Yeah, it’s a competition, but it’s not athletic at all. So, Bill, before I let you go, I want to ask you, is there anything that I should have asked you that I didn’t, that you would like to share? 

Know What Your Story Is

Bill Guertin 22:05   

You know, I think for everyone that’s out there doing what you do within software. Whatever digital product you may sell, you really need to know what your story is. And be able to tell it convincingly it from the eyes of someone who may be in their very shoes. People don’t want to buy the bits and bytes that you put together. Whatever it is that your software, what they want, is the result of the fact that they want the product of your product.  

Just like we in sports sell what happens to people as a result of a sporting event in the seats. It isn’t about what’s on the pitcher on the ice. It’s all about what happened in the seats. And in your world. What really matters is how you affect others’ lives positively; it isn’t the price point it necessarily. It isn’t the features that you have necessarily because most everyone’s going to have some similar features down the road. It’s the way you present it yourself, combined with the service that you provide someone in helping them get where they need to go. It’s the combination of you and your product that people sell, or people buy, not just the product itself. So that’s what I would leave people with. 

Billy Bateman 23:11   

I love it, man. I couldn’t agree more. You know, it’s too easy to get bogged down into comparing features. And here’s the matrix and all that when it should be the solution and the story and how we can help people that that we lead with, and we finished with as well. Bill, thank you so much. If people want to get in touch with you and continue the conversation, what’s the best way for them to reach out? 

Bill Guertin 23:35   

That’s the way to do probably bill at is bi 360 dot com. It’s I SBI stands for inspiration sports Business Institute 360 dot com. 

Billy Bateman 23:46   

Okay, Bill, thank you again, and we’ll chat later. 

Bill Guertin 23:50   

My pleasure. Thanks again for having me, Billy.