Industry Insider is back with another fantastic guest! We sat down with Yannick Snellings, Sales Manager at Club Brugge…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Yannick Snellings, Sales Manager at Club Brugge. My career trajectory can be described as peculiar or unusual, but growing from one role to the next always happened very organically. I started my career 8 years ago as a doctoral researcher in the biomedical department at the KU Leuven. There I discovered being in a lab wasn’t really my jam. I was however always very keen on sharing what I was doing and learning how I could use my research to solve real world problems. As such, I began going to conferences, talking to companies and noticed that I had a strong pull towards the business end of things. Hence, after my obtaining my PhD, I chose to work as a management consultant to absorb as many business skills as I possibly could.
As a management consultant, I came into contact with quite a lot of customers. Here I discovered that I really enjoyed customer interactions and that I had a knack for sales. Soon after this discovery, I joined a global life science company, Merck KGaA, in a commercial role. A company that is still dear to me, as it is truly an amazing place to work. I intended to build an extensive career at the enterprise, but when the football team you’ve been supporting your entire life comes knocking, you simply can’t refuse.
What do you do in your current role?
The responsibilities of Sales Manager vary quite a bit. The core of what I do is generating revenue for the club on a B2B level. This ranges from selling hospitality, to sponsoring and licensing. Customers are always at the heart of what I do. During match days, I try to stay as close to the customers as possible by engaging with as many people as I possibly can.
Besides my commercial tasks, I have two additional core responsibilities. Make sure that we have operational excellence when it comes to our CRM systems and fine-tuning and automating our B2B reporting. I enjoy that fact that I have a very broad set of tasks to perform, so I can learn as much as I can about the organisation.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Usually I start my day at 6.00am by hitting the gym. Afterwards, I like to get to work asap. At Club Brugge, we work from a new centralised complex called Belfius Basecamp, where both our sports and our business staff reside. An amazing place to be on a day-to-day basis. Mondays are generally loaded with internal meetings, debriefing the match and making sure our priorities for the next match are set. This leaves me with give or take 4 days to spend on customer interactions, diving into our CRM system and automating our reporting.
On average I would say my time is spent largely on sales and preparing the next match on a B2B level. Finally, the job requires us to make sure everything is smooth sailing on matchday. Those days are generally a little more ‘ad hoc’ when it comes to what I do, as there are always some surprises or special requests to take care of.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
First of all, I never intended to work in sports, it kind of happened by accident. As mentioned earlier, I love working in a commercial environment and interacting with customers. My career was mostly focused on learning and growing within a scientific sales environment. Honestly, I never really considered working in sports. However, I’m a passionate football fan. On weekends, it didn’t used to be extraordinary that I watched 4 to 5 games.
When I noticed on LinkedIn that Club Brugge was looking for a new Sales Manager, I immediately started to engage. I didn’t even have to think about it. Literally, I discovered the job opening on a Sunday at 10pm. I went upstairs immediately, started drafting my resume and the rest is history.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
That’s an easy one: customer satisfaction. I would go as far as saying, if this isn’t your number one focus, you probably shouldn’t be working in sales. I found that in my previous roles, success always came when listening to a customer and helping them solve their problem. If you do those 2 things, the sale will be a given.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I try to constantly engage in new challenges, both personally and professionally. As such, I do run into my fair share of failures. I always try to learn from each mistake. One of my favourite motto’s is “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”.
One of the more recent, heinous, errors that I can remember actually happened when I was trading. I’m quite an avid investor and have been teaching myself how to day-trade since the start of the whole coronavirus pandemic. I tried to learn as many strategies and tools as possible, including leverage. However, the market took a swing and due to some hastily inputs, I put an incorrect setting in my stop-losses and I wiped out 50% of my humble trading account. It taught me to slow down when things around you are moving fast, don’t act hastily but stay diligent.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Without a doubt Digital Fan Engagement. I’ve always been a fan of Club Brugge. Due to the large travel distance to the stadium, I could only occasionally go to the games. As such, I saw most games sitting in front of the TV on the couch or in a pub. New ways that are popping up to engage those fans, like fan tokens, are an exciting way to create involvement and inclusion. I look forward to seeing what creative ways we will find to engage fans that aren’t able to be at the stadium for every game.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Something that our industry is working on extensively, more respect. More respect for the players, the referees, the fans, … On all levels really. Football is amazing, it’s something that we all love, and it should be welcoming to everyone!
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
One of the things that I taught myself early in my career is that you need to switch off when your mind and body are telling you to do so. It’s generally more efficient to tackle a problem with a clear head. To clear mine, I love hitting the gym, playing strategy games, meeting up with friends & family and spending time with my partner.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Just focus on the things you are passionate about. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what you like and enjoy, and try to get as good at it as you possibly can. Good things will happen.
How to connect with Yannick Snellings…
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