Build A Superstar Sales Staff To Call On Every Project
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 20:47 — Steve DeLay
You have your game schedule. You’ve identified your sellout targets for the next season and are ready to push forward with the Sellout Mentality.
You’ve come up with a couple solid ticket packages to complement your season ticket and group offerings and are ready to launch Full Menu Marketing from Day One of the selling season.
SETTING UP YOUR SALES STAFF FOR MAXIMUM SUCCESS
Now you need to build your sales staff to make sure you take advantage of your Sellout Mentality and your Full Menu Marketing strategy. For the sake of this example, I’m going to assume you already have a sales staff in place. If you still need to hire salespeople, get cracking.
Here is the type of salespeople you’ll need to successfully implement full-menu marketing and take the next steps to selling out all season long.
1. Outside Sales Staff: What I mean by Outside Sales is that these salespeople will not be telemarketers; they will be calling on executives of businesses eyeball-to-eyeball at the prospect’s office. They do not call on ‘Joe Fan’, churches, schools or anyone other than corporations. This group is the most experienced, most professional, best trained sales staff you have.
These salespeople will be calling on the top exec of companies with 10+ employees and $500,000+ in sales within 20 miles of your building. Their goal is to sell that corporation something. It could be season tickets, a ticket package, employee outing or charitable ticket donation. There’s a different challenge on every business sales call and that’s why the training for this group is so critical.
How many outside salespeople you will need? Suppose you’re in a market with 8,000 businesses (non government, non retail, non not-for-profit) with 10+ employees. Our ‘Rule of Thumb’ is one outside salesperson for every 1,000 of these targeted businesses. Therefore, if you had 8,000 targeted business prospects, you would want eight outside salespeople. If you make a mistake on how many you should hire, make a mistake on too many that you hire.
The outside sales staff should receive the highest base salary and highest commission of the three groups. This is because they are generating all of their own sales. They do not get any call-ins from ads. They do not get any freebie leads of canceled season ticket holders. Every sale they get will be earned so they deserve the highest compensation.
2. Group Sales Staff: This is a separate sales staff than your Outside Sales staff. The targets for the group salespeople are what we call ‘community-oriented’ groups, like youth sports leagues, schools, churches, rotary clubs, non-profits and any organization not part of a company. It’s important for these salespeople to sell groups year-round. Even if your season is only 5-6 months, they will spend the off-season cultivating more group leads, new group leaders and additional contacts.
Many teams short-change their group sales effort by only selling groups for the two months before the season starts and during the season. The first three months of the off-season, they are tasked with trying to sell season tickets. Once season ticket sales start to die down, they have the group sales staff switch over to groups. The problem with this approach is the leads. Your group sales staff needs the off-season to develop more and more leads. Since you can’t just buy a list of “Group Leaders”, you have to grind through all the prospective groups via phone to find the right contact people. The more contacts and leads the group sales staff can develop in the off-season, the more groups they will sell in-season.
How many group salespeople will you need? It all depends on your database. The ‘Rule of Thumb’ for groups is 1,500 leads for each salesperson. So, if you have 6,000 leads, you’ll need four dedicated full-time group salespeople.
3. Inside Sales: Your inside sales staff are telemarketers and they focus on “Joe Fan”. The inside salespeople will call on single game buyers, past season ticket holders, sweepstakes entrants and any other non-business fan that the team has contact information for. They will also handle all in-bound calls that are generated from ticket advertising. Their commission rate should be lower than the group and outside sales staff as they already have some built-in sales through the team’s marketing campaign and through leads that have already come to games.
How many inside salespeople will you need? We don’t have a hard and fast Rule of Thumb here. It really depends on how active you are in getting fans to call in and buy a ticket package and as well as how big your database of prospects is. A good estimate is 10,000 qualified leads per sales rep. By qualified, I mean someone who has shown a clear interest in your team by purchasing tickets or attending a game at some point in the last three years. Don’t just hand them the phone book and tell them to start with ‘A’.
If your salespeople make 300 calls per week over 50 weeks, they’ll make 15,000 calls. Some calls will be follow up calls and there will be plenty of left messages. Don’t feel bad about calling people 2-3 times.
THE BACKWARDS WAY TO BUILD A SALES STAFF
I’ve seen plenty of teams set their sales staff structure and size based on their revenue goals. They look at their revenue goals and how much a salesperson usually does in new business. Then they divide the number and presto, that’s how many salespeople they need. That never really made much sense to me. If you don’t have enough leads for them, the salespeople are left to their own devices to find them and usually don’t generate the ROI you need. The owner comes in and looks at the sales report and says, “How much are we paying these guys? Get rid of ‘em. They aren’t worth it.”
Set your sales staff size and structure based on the number of leads you can create for them. You don’t want them to have too few leads or too many leads to be productive. Follow the Rule of Thumb guidelines above and you’ll call on every single viable prospect in your market. Because you have a plan and didn’t pick a staff number out of thin air, your boss or the owner will let you run with it.
When I was Chief Marketing Officer for Mandalay Baseball Properties, we had more than 70 ticket salespeople across our seven teams. In Frisco, TX alone, we had 24 people focusing on ticket sales. There were nine Outside Salespeople, eight group salespeople, four inside salespeople and two managers. Did it work? Absolutely. We generated more ticket revenue than any other team in minor league baseball and regularly sold out every Friday, Saturday and Sunday game each year. Even our team in Dayton, OH, the Dayton Dragons who have sold every single ticket for thirteen straight years (915 straight games, the real professional sports team record) always had five salespeople calling on new prospects selling tickets.
TICKET SALESPEOPLE SELL TICKETS, NOT BILLBOARDS
If you’re wondering where you’re going to find the budget to hire all these salespeople, take a look at your marketing budget. How much are you spending on ‘branding’ that isn’t showing an ROI in generating ticket sales? Are you buying billboards, expensive TV spots and bus benches? If your team is wildly popular, you don’t need branding to sell tickets. If your team has been at the bottom of the standings in recent years, all the branding in the world won’t sell you tickets. Shift some of your marketing resources to hiring more salespeople. You’ll sell more season tickets, ticket packages and groups and start taking big steps toward selling out all season long.
Steve DeLay is a ticket sales and sponsorship sales consultant for sports teams. He has spent more than 20 years working for teams in the NBA, NHL, MLB and Minor League Baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @SteveDeLay2.