Dublin firm's training pushes sales teams into the big leagues.

Cheering for the Cleveland Browns has been an exercise in futility since the team returned to the city in 1999. How many coaches? How many quarterbacks? We won't recite the list of talentless players who have checked in at the team's lakeshore stadium; suffice to say, it has been an ugly procession.

But a silver lining exists. Sunshine emanates from the team's Berea corporate offices, and a Dublin-based consulting firm plays a role in that uplifting news.

PRSPX—pronounced as “prospects”—is a sales management and training firm that counts among its clients the Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Cowboys and a slew of other professional sports teams. Pro franchises comprise 60 percent of its business.

Lance Tyson, the company's founder, president and CEO, says while the Browns' field play won't remind anyone of the Jim Brown or Kardiac Kids days, the organization excels at sales.

“The Browns get killed as a franchise … but when it comes to selling, they are the best of breed,” he says.

Indeed. The NFL gives the Browns high marks in sales categories such as season tickets, premium seats, suites, group sales and hospitality, and media and corporate partnerships, says Brent Stehlik, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the Browns.

Stehlik first employed Tyson while selling for the San Diego Chargers. When he came to the Browns four years ago, he reached out to him again. PRSPX visits the Browns every four to eight weeks with training focusing on more than ringing up a sale.

“PRSPX and Lance are partners of mine,” Stehlik says. “He's someone I call up for advice about how do we get better vs. [having] a transactional relationship only.”

If Tyson's name sounds familiar, it's because he owned and operated Dale Carnegie Training centers in Columbus and other cities. He sold his interest in the centers to start PRSPX.

He began providing training to sports teams by offering his services to the Philadelphia Eagles for game tickets. When he got to Ohio, his Philly contact had just become a C-suite officer for the Cavaliers. The Cavs soon became a client, too.

The company's approach is well-regarded because PRSPX customizes its training for each client and provides the type of interactive approach that its sales students appreciate.

“He'll roll up his sleeves and go ahead and make cold calls in front of everyone, showing them how to do it,” says Mike Ondrejko, president of global sales for Legends Hospitality Management. “People buy into him and the process.”

Tyson sees his company's role as aiding in their personal growth as much as ensuring the sales pipeline stays filled.

“What we're really good at is what we call the adaptive process,” he says. “We have a model called adaptive selling, where we're more behavioral-change experts than anything else. So, while we'll be teaching about sales, we're going to be coaching for skill.”

One coaching tactic involves recording trainees as they make presentations before their peers in situations that salespeople routinely face. The tapes are reviewed with each trainee in one-on-one coaching sessions.

PRSPX recently employed the approach with Miami Dolphins staff who sell sponsorship rights.

“When you are asking for million-dollar deals, those people have got to be really polished,” Tyson says. “So we delivered training where they had to give nine different presentations.”

For Mike Suttman, Tyson's training methods injected an immediate need for his sales staff to improve.

“He delivered a much greater sense of urgency among our salespeople and exposed us to a lot of different types of sales training,” says the president of McGohan Brabender, an independent health insurance broker with offices in Dublin, Dayton and Cincinnati.

“I wish I had first met him when I was 25.”

Craig Lovelace is a freelance writer.