Eric Sudol grew up in a town of 1,500 in the cornfields of Iowa, part of a family of teachers. He figured that was his calling when he went off to a tiny college in the state.
In one way, Sudol did become a teacher, teaching sales to his staff, first at the Memphis Grizzlies and now at the Dallas Cowboys and Legends, where he sells sponsorships for AT&T Stadium, The Star in Frisco, Texas, and the under-construction Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.
“I always tell our sales team, it’s the last three to five minutes” of a pitch that is most important, he said. Why? Because that’s when the salesperson should detect red flags and know whether it’s worth pursuing the prospect.
“A lot of salespeople fall for the false prisoner of hope,” Sudol said. Sales reps can get taken in by the flash of a project and not see caution in the responses that might not make follow-ups worthwhile. A lot of time is wasted on those follow-ups, he explained. “I have a lot of comfort in letting go.”
Sudol quickly let go of his plans to teach when he was exposed to college. A five-sport athlete in high school, he decided sports business was for him. Coming from small-town Iowa, that could mean one thing: becoming the athletic director of the University of Iowa.
He enrolled in a sports management program at Ohio University, and like undergraduate school before, it similarly opened his eyes to more jobs in sports business than just Iowa’s AD.
He cold-called the Grizzlies because of the high concentration of Ohio graduates there and secured a summer internship. The team hired him soon after and he’s been selling ever since.
Sudol doesn’t rule out one day returning to Iowa, but for now, he has some sales prospects to go meet — and just maybe not call back.