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Business of Sports: Inside Indy Eleven

By Lesley Neff, M.A.  | November 27, 2017

Business of Sports: Inside Indy Eleven Hero Image with logo

Coming this Spring 2018… the experience of a lifetime! Whether a sports fan or not, you will want to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your marketing skills and advance your career. For the first time, Marian University’s Adult Programs is partnered with Indy Eleven professional soccer team on a special topics course, BUS 380: Business of Sports: Inside Indy Eleven, developed by Mike Henn, VP of Ticket Sales for the Eleven.

Mike Henn Headshot

Mike has worked in professional sports for 35 years, including 27 years at the Indiana Pacers. He is a laid back guy with a huge sense of humor, which has certainly helped his career. He has enjoyed longevity in a challenging field, where turnover is the norm. But, this course is not just for sports fans; it is designed to help you excel, in any career, in any industry.

Mike’s vision for this course, as he puts it, is to “offer unique, real life opportunities that you would never have the opportunity to do in most traditional sports management or sports sales and marketing classes.” Mike has been hands on in the sports industry which has helped him learn the ins and outs of the industry better than most. He brings real world advice and theories that textbooks don't talk about.

One major point in the business of sports is that you have to sell yourself as your own product. The word “sales” scares people, but all parts of life include sales. Whether you love sports or hate sports, whether you want to work in sports or you work in insurance or finance or web design, it doesn’t matter; Mike explains that"you have to consider yourself as a sellable, marketable product". This course will focus on revenue produced thinking, which Mike says “scares the crap out of people, but if you're a revenue producing thinker, that separates you from ‘the next guy’.”

For example, during Mike’s first year with the Pacers, they were 7 and 50-something at one point, and Mike had to learn how to sell in adverse conditions. How do you sell a losing or less than desirable product? Mike did it. You can do it. This course will show you how.

Fast forward a few decades, when Mike interviewed for Indy Eleven, he was not a soccer guy—he was a basketball guy. The Eleven executives seemed to struggle with him not being a soccer guy. So, Mike had to get real creative, real fast! He shouted, “I’ll make you a deal... I will dribble a soccer ball from Fishers to downtown to prove my new found love of soccer.” He found a clever way of digging himself out of an objection. He was honest: “you're right... I don't know a damn thing about soccer, but I will do anything to learn, and I can sell anything to anyone.” They liked that answer, and Mike has been with the Eleven since their sold-out, inaugural season. Mike separated himself from ‘the next guy’.

In interviews, they will always come up with a concern or an issue or doubt you for some reason or another; you have to come back with a benefit, a solution, an alternative or even a joke to seal the deal and make you stand out. That is what this course is all about. If you happen to love sports and soccer, and meeting players excites you, that’s just an added bonus.

Sports is a business, and sports teams are companies, just like anywhere else, with the same areas of concentration every other company has: sales, marketing, finance, sponsorship, community relations... that's not special to sports—that's everywhere. In this course, you will visit Indy Eleven offices and have meet and greet opportunities in all of these areas. Mike will bring speakers into the classroom to help meet course objectives. You will network with people who work in the sports industry, as well as in other industries. While participation, attendance, and quizzes will be important, this course will focus on projects and hands-on experiences. This is a course that is more about the experience than the grade.

If you’re still asking yourself whether or not you should take this course, go ask Mike himself. He has provided his e-mail address, so reach out and get to know him. Get the inside scoop on YouTube here.

This course starts in March of 2018; space is limited, so contact the MAP office at 317.955.6271 today to secure your spot.

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