Stisser sells the Rams in St. Louis

by John Ring

Talk about a conversation stopper.

Eric Stisser has a neat trick.

Stisser is the Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing for the St. Louis Rams. He started with them five years ago as a sales executive and worked his way up.

He was with the Rams when they knocked off the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.

And so during a recent interview with Eric — who is a native of St. Louis but visits his Dad (Vern Stisser) regularly in Galesburg,— brought some gifts. A Rams hat, Rams Media Guide, a Rams 2003 schedule and he also pulled out his Super Bowl ring.

That’s right — a Super Bowl ring.

That’s a conversation stopper. If you want to see grown men gasp and go nuts over a piece of jewelry, a Super Bowl ring quickly turns them into 12-year-old kids.

It’s not an engagement ring or some tawdry expensive makeup ring bought by Kobe — this is serious. It’s a Super Bowl ring.

But that’s something that Eric Stisser sees a lot. He sells the corporate suites you hear so much about these days for the Rams. "When you see some of these corporate guys talking to Kurt Warner or Marshall Faulk, that’s what they turn into," said Stisser. "They’re like kids and it’s a neat thing to see."

"A lot of times, we’ll take some of our clients on the field before the game. Sometimes, one of the players will talk to them, shake their hand. Those little things go a long way."

Ram corporate suites go for a pricey $85,000 a year. In a town like Galesburg, that’s pretty tough to imagine. But Stisser works at his job, goes out and makes the sales but insists that his clients take advantage of what they’ve paid for. "I tell them not to be a fat cat, don’t just sit there and watch the games. It’s a great way to entertain prospective clients and a way to open doors to business."

Before you envy Stisser and his Super Bowl ring, take this into account; the economy is stagnant, the Rams were 7-9 last year and the Rams also compete with the Cardinals and the Blues in St. Louis for corporate bucks.

"The economy certainly affects us," said Eric, "and if the Rams play better, it makes me a better salesperson. This is a great baseball city and there are only so many corporate dollars to go around. My busiest time of year is from March to August and that’s when I’m getting renewals. But there are a lot of benefits for a corporate sponsor. They get to ride on the team plane on trips, stay at the team hotel; they get VIP treatment during draft day parties and there’s a lot of behind the scene things they get to do."

Stisser was born and raised in St. Louis and then attended DePauw University, getting a Bachelors Degree in communications while also playing quarterback for the school on the field. Prior to joining the Rams, Eric served an internship for ESPN as a production assistant and also worked as the assistant director of business development for the Continental Basketball Association.

"At ESPN, I logged plays, edited and cut tape and got things ready for Sports Center. Bristol is a very small town but when you get to the ESPN headquarters, it’s like the satellite capital of the world. They’re all over the place. The studios inside are nice and all of the personalities you see on television, the ones that anchor the shows, treated me great. They were all real nice to deal with."

Stisser loves working for the Rams. "It’s a first class organization, a family-owned company that treats its employees with a lot of respect."

Eric has learned a lot about operations with the Rams—his goal is to eventually become a president of a sports team. "Revenue sharing in the NFL has been a good thing for every team. It’s made the league very competitive. Even with merchandising sales, if you were to walk into a store and buy a Kurt Warner jersey, the Rams don’t make all the money off it. It’s shared by all of the teams. The Rams make money by selling merchandise off their website but at Dillard’s it’s shared."

"It’s a nice check to get at the beginning of the year," added Stisser of the revenue sharing by the NFL.

Stisser also sees many of the positives brought to the table by professional athletes that get little or no attention. "A lot of the Ram players are involved in charities around the St. Louis area and they do a great job. The NFL mandates that Tuesdays are an off day and that’s when a lot of our players go out and talked to groups and shake hands. They get out in the community, work with kids and it’s a great thing to see.

Eric lives in Webster Groves, Mo. with his wife Rebecca and daughter Emily. His father, Vern Stisser, owns the Galesburg Antiques Mall Company. Like many of us NFL fans, he’s looking forward to the season.

"Warner’s healthy and Bolger’s a great backup quarterback," said Eric.

And if Kurt puts up his typical numbers, it should be an easy sell for Eric next summer.