By Tiffany White
Special to Stlouisrams.com
What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s a question that every kid has been asked. Some get the answer early, while others discover it over time. As for Ryan Cliffe, St. Louis Rams Manager/Partnership Sales & Support, it took some bouncing around before he unraveled the answer.
“I graduated college in 2006 from Mizzou and I bounced around for a couple years with some odd jobs here and there,” Cliffe said. “When I got here, the Rams were a great place. There’s community relations, there’s PR, there’s marketing, there’s sales, there’s broadcast and creative. So, this gave me a good platform to figure out really what I wanted to do. I’ve kind of chosen a career path and then kept going in the sales career.”
While Cliffe was unsure of his career path early on, his mother had a clue all along that he would end up right where was supposed to be.
“She’s really been the engine that’s driven me in my career path," Cliffe said. "She has a small marketing company in St. Louis and she recognized certain skills or attributes that I had a young age.”
Cliffe joined the Rams’ staff in 2008 as a coordinator, managing accounts for the team’s corporate partners. Since his arrival, a helpful bunch has been there to enrich his professional development.
“It’s really been a team effort," Cliffe said. "My boss (Director/Partnership Support & Development) Susan Slemmer has been a big influence. (Executive VP/Marketing & Sales) Bob Reif and (VP/Sales) Michael O’Keefe have all been very influential and helped me figure out my career path. They’ve been a benchmark for my career.”
With a strong network of support in place, Cliffe has been able to prepare for future growth opportunities and tackle his day-to-day grinds with success. Every day is different and according to Cliffe, there’s a lot of putting out fires.
“There’s not an outline of my day I go through every day," Cliffe said. "Depending on needs, I’ll do the service stuff and then if I have some time I’ll do the sales stuff where I’ll go out to pitch potential clients, and make phone calls, set appointments and go out with them. Then I’ll do a needs analysis and figure out how the Rams can help them. Then make proposals, pitch it to them and close it, hopefully.”
Through the art of his pitch, Cliffe sells the uniqueness of the team to potential partners.
“St. Louis is a great market and I think that there’s a lot of passion in St. Louis," Cliffe said. "People are hungry for a team to win and you really sell that to people when you go out there. You really, honestly, sell the people that we have here. When we go on road trips or we have events and you bring these people out and you let them meet the people that work here, I think, that’s what sets us apart.”
The interactions that clients receive with the team go unparalleled as Cliffe and the entire sales department continue to create intimate, entertaining events that allow partners to feel a true connection to the team. A favorite amongst clients is the “Rams Fantasy Football Camp,” where partners come out and play flag football with the players and their friends.
“I love watching it," Cliffe said. "I got to play in it one time and it was pretty awesome. I always say to them, ‘You know guys, the coaching staff isn’t out here watching you guys. The scouts aren’t here watching you guys. You’re not going to make it on the team.’ But they always end up going hard. There’s always broken bones, blown knees, broken noses.”
Even with the injuries, the clients share a bond with the team that extends beyond the traditional business sphere.
“What we want to do here is cultivate relationships," Cliffe said. "You want to have a long-standing partnership with someone. That’s really what we’re about.”
So far, Cliffe has done just that. He is steering himself in the right direction and is pushing the Rams ahead with him – an accomplishment that will surely make his mother proud.