Inside the journey of AudienceView’s VP of College Athletics Mike Hinson
The second you begin a conversation with Mike Hinson you know that you are speaking with someone who belongs in the world of sales. Charismatically outgoing and informative, Hinson makes you feel like you’ve known him for twenty years even though your relationship stretches no further than twenty minutes. It’s an art form that only a select amount of people have the ability to unleash.
A graduate of James Madison University in 1994, Hinson studied Business Administration and Management honing the principles the would eventually make him an industry leader. He christened his path by spending eight years as a Regional Sales Manager with Jenzabar, a respected information technology company. From there, he moved on to become the Director of Sales for SONISWEB where he worked to anticipate and accommodate to the needs of colleges and universities through data.
Hinson’s passion for college athletics spewed into an opportunity in 2004 with the company Paciolan, which provides resources to universities, colleges, and venues to maximize the potential of their ticketing and marketing process.
“Paciolan was the granddaddy of college athletics ticketing and marketing. They have a large market share, and I was fortunate enough to be very involved with the sales and acquisition group.”
As time went on, he was presented with an opportunity outside of college athletics that allowed him to advance to the next level of his career.
He pivoted to become the Vice President of East Coast Sales for the NWP Services Corporation and the Vice President of Industry Principals at RealPage, Inc. Becoming a Vice President is a benchmark title, and Hinson had accomplished just that in a short amount of time.
But the itch was still there. The juice of working in the sports industry is unrelenting and difficult to shake. Looking to get back into the world of college athletics, he considered a company called AudienceView who is steadily becoming a leader of providing business solutions in sports.
“I’m fortunate to have a lot of experience in the college athletic market, and wanted to get back into the market. AudienceView has been successful in the arts market, and their technology is ahead of the curve. The only substantial missing piece is focus and execution.”
Currently, Hinson is the Vice President of College Athletics with AudienceView. He is in charge of acquiring new clients in the form of universities and overseeing the success of the current roster of CA clients. Prior to his arrival, they had not signed a new contract over the last year, but within the last 60 days they have inked two universities with more pending. Combining Hinson’s sales acumen with AudienceView’s emerging technology is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
“The tipping point has arrived; a lot of schools are beginning to evaluate their systems, and AudienceView presents a compelling and fresh option. The fear of no change has surpassed the uneasiness of change within a lot of programs.”
“With AudienceView, our technology is an integrated database built for whoever you are in the company. Our system is built around a fan, while other systems are built around a transaction. It is web-based, scalable from a mobile standpoint, and a much more forward platform overall.”
Progressive software will be a differentiating factor as AudienceView continues to go to market, but Hinson is just as focused on the relationship aspect of appealing to a customer.
“For the customer, it’s not about the software. It’s about the relationship. We are taking an aggressive approach to providing a hands on customer success program that is unmatched in the industry.”
Approaching how to sell a sports entity in today’s world has a different tune than it did in year’s past. Ten years ago, the season ticket reigned supreme, and the at-home experience of consuming a sporting event had not yet superseded attending the game itself. The in-arena experience certainly still holds its charm, but increased analytical efforts and a shift in resources has had to be expended to better understand a customer’s needs.
“We need to utilize data and offer a more boutique buying experience for the customer. We need to figure out how to apply data effectively,” said Hinson.
Indeed, these are all challenges a seller faces when tasked with sequestering the allure of the pesky Millennial buyer. But Hinson has placed himself in a strong position for growth by arming himself with technology that has mobile scalability, and more than two decades of relationship building while embarking on the ups and downs of the sales cycle.
Hinson’s journey in the industry is nontraditional in the sense that even though he has rubbed shoulders with a fair share of top-notch universities, he has been on the other side of the coin for the entirety of his career. As a soon-to-be job seeker in the industry, I realized that I have not been paying enough attention to the vendor side of the equation when it comes to seeking out a full-time gig.
Hinson is a prime example that there is opportunity to involve yourself with sports without the presence of a team logo front and center on a polo. If you read between lines and educate yourself on who the ancillary players in the industry may be, you will quickly realize that there is untapped opportunity to take advantage of.
As for Hinson, his advice to prospective professionals is simple, yet profound: “Make sure you’re committed to what you want to do. Working in a ticket office is a tough profession. Seek out opportunities that may not be on other’s radar: systems consultant, customer support, or even product developer if you’re not comfortable with sales. You would be surprised how much is out there.”
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