Let’s Talk Sales: Interview with Aaron Ryley from the New York Mets

Aaron Ryley graduated in May 2017 from the Neag School of Education with a degree in Sport Management and a minor from the Business School in Professional Selling.

  • Aaron started with the New York Mets as a Ticket Sales and Services intern in 2016. Post-graduation from UConn, he rejoined the Mets as an Inside Sales Representative in June of 2017. He was then promoted to an Account Executive role on the Group Sales & Services team in January of 2018. Most recently, he joined the Management-in-Training program in October 2019
  • As an Account Executive, Aaron oversees a book of business of group sales clients which includes coordinating corporate outings, theme night initiatives, school-wide events, celebrations, reunions, and more. He is responsible for servicing and growing that book of business.
  • In the Management-In-Training program, Aaron helps to train, recruit, & develop future leaders in the sports sales industry

 I got the opportunity to speak with Aaron to learn more about his experience in the sales industry and gain some insight into what led him to his success. This is what he shared:

Hannah Halloran: What is the top skill you need to succeed in sales?

Aaron Ryley: The top skill you need is the ability to overcome adversity. You’ll hear a lot more “no” than “yes” but you have to keep moving forward. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you can master this, you will start to see a ton of success.  It’s also important to have an infectious, positive attitude that resonates with both your clients and your coworkers.  This will make people want to/look forward to working with you which will ultimately help you drive revenue and grow within the organization.

HH: What are sales recruiters looking for in applicants?

AR: At the Mets, we are open to all majors/degrees. Within our office, we have Sport Management majors, Business majors, Communication majors, Criminal Justice majors, and more.  By not limiting ourselves to select majors, we are able to widen our candidate pool and ultimately attract the top candidates.  We are ultimately looking for the sales DNA, that’s what we call it. This is someone that has an outgoing personality, easily holds conversations and has the ability to story-tell that captivates the person they are speaking to.

Aaron Ryley at Citi Field, home of the New York MetsHH: What is working in sales like?

AR: A lot of people in college don’t see themselves in sales and I certainly didn’t but I knew I wanted to explore it. I like the Mets’ sales process and how it is customizable: you can work with the client to see what makes the most sense to them, it is a much more consultative process. When I say I work in ticket sales, people think of the person behind the ticket booth. In reality, it involves meetings with clients, meeting at the ballpark for tours and more: it’s more than cold-calling all day. I have the unique opportunity to call a baseball stadium my office every day which is pretty special. Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark and is a constant reminder of why I wanted to pursue a career in sports.

HH: Which classes at UConn have helped you excel in sales?

AR: I highly recommend the Professional Sales Leadership minor at UConn. I wasn’t in the business school and I didn’t know it existed until some faculty members introduced me to it when they spoke to my marketing class, which was coincidentally a part of the sales minor. A lot of guest speakers came in and talked about sales in their industry and we also had live case studies to learn more.

HH: Which experiences at UConn led you to a career in sports sales?

AR: Being the President of the Sport Business Association allowed me, from a macro level, to learn a lot about different industries in sports. Guest speakers came in every week from different areas of sport business and explained their area of work and what their responsibilities were. I got to learn a lot about what I wanted to do, and also what I didn’t want to do. If I could give any advice to students considering sales it would be to get involved with student organizations and go to guest speakers on campus: there are a lot of great resources to take advantage of. UConn Athletics is also a very reputable brand. Try to work with UConn Athletics in any way possible, whether it’s with game-day operations or marketing or something else. They have a lot of great opportunities there.

HH: What is your favorite part of the sales industry?

AR: Seeing the sales process go from A to Z, from the first interaction with the client to seeing the event happen at Citi field, is the most gratifying thing. You get to see every step of the process: from being in a meeting in Manhattan, to sitting down with an events coordinator, to picking out a package, then ultimately seeing the event come to fruition. Sales is a results-driven industry, so for those who played competitive sports growing up, sales lets you use that competitive edge. Sales is commission-based so you can control what you make so it’s great for those with that natural, competitive side. You have the ability to climb the leaderboard in your company and among your coworkers. There is a very friendly, competitive nature at the Mets.

HH: What advice do you have for someone looking for a career in sales?

AR: There is a misnomer that sales is a good “foot in the door” within a company. From a sales hiring manager’s perspective, they don’t like to hear that it’s a “foot in the door,” you want someone to be interested in sales and growing in the position. Recruiters are conscious of if the applicant is attracted to the brand of the company, like the Mets, or if they are actually interested in sales. Look for sales internships or any opportunities to grow your sales experience. Not many people are dying to be in sales, but sales found me. I didn’t seek it, but I fell in love with it.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in sports sales, Aaron would be happy to connect and serve as a resource. He can be reached by email at Aryley@newyorkmets.com

By Hannah Halloran
Hannah Halloran Graduate Assistant, Programming Hannah Halloran