WSU targets Spokane in more ways than one

PULLMAN - Cougar football is moving to Spokane. Not in a literal sense, but a new element to the WSU sales department has opened up new opportunities outside of Pullman.

As the 2014 season approaches, ticket sales have been rising, and a big reason for that has occurred behind the scenes. In March, a team specifically focused on sales came together, marking the first time that WSU has had a group of people dedicated to that purpose, Director of Ticket Operations Paul Finn tells Cougfan.com.

Manager of Ticket Sales Casey VanSickle, and Account Executives Mike Boyle and Forrest Duba, were the first to be hired to the new sales team, which will be based in a new office coming to Spokane in August of this year. The responsibility of pursuing potential clients is on the shoulders of those three, and they are working out of a temporary location in Spokane until the new office opens.

"While this team is fairly new, I believe that they are here to stay," Finn said. "The days of sitting back and waiting for the sales to come to us are over."

The team is constantly in contact with Finn about sales projects, and VanSickle said that communication is vital because the operations team is based in Pullman. Both Finn and VanSickle agree that Spokane is a hot spot for Cougar football to develop. The new office space will give customers a chance to work one-on-one with employees to buy tickets to Cougar Athletic events. Also, it will give people a place to buy Cougar merchandise and Cougar Gold cheese.

"Spokane gives us an incredible sports market and Cougar following to reach out to," VanSickle said. "We will be able to meet with local businesses in person and present a full menu of ticket options to them for all sporting events. Spokane is also a good location for us to travel to other important markets like the LC Valley, Tri-Cities, and of course Palouse."

This sales team has benefited the program in at least two ways thus far. First, the account executives, like Boyle and Duba, are able to help customers through the entire process of buying the tickets. VanSickle said some people will take large amounts of time trying to decide whether they want to purchase tickets, and once that time passes, people might have too many questions they need answered or they might forget about the tickets entirely. Now, the account executives can cut down on that time and aggressively sell the tickets.

Secondly, the sales team has been able to contact businesses and coordinate with them in the ticket-buying process.

"Businesses are able to purchase a large amount of tickets at one time and will be key to our success," VanSickle said. "Tickets are a great way for a business to say thank you to a client or employee and show them that they are appreciated. We are able to offer a sporting experience that a lot of the time can't be matched unless you head all the way over to Seattle."

Each day, the sales team makes several phone calls, emails and sales appointments in hopes of generating sales from customers. VanSickle said that, in the past, the staff wasn't large enough to direct phone calls toward people who could potentially fill seats in Martin Stadium. Now, WSU has a sales team that is committed to doing exactly that. Before the formation of the sales team, there weren't as many opportunities to make connections with potential clients, but now, VanSickle said the sales team can build relationships with customers and help them purchase what they truly want.

"There is a tremendous Cougar following for us to reach out to and we will never run out of people to try and contact," VanSickle said.

For this season, VanSickle, Boyle and Duba initially began by reaching out to previous season ticket holders or to those who came to multiple games last year. In the future, VanSickle said the team will try to sell more group tickets to encourage people to continue coming back.


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