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Sales Training Is Over, Now What?

Steve DeLay's picture

A couple days of sales training will be a waste unless you take these steps

You’re the Ticket Sales Manager for a team.

You’ve hired an outside sales trainer to come in and train your staff. Or, maybe you did the training yourself.

Your sales staff finished the training fired up, feeling good about themselves. Everything’s peachy, right?

Not yet. If all you do is a couple of days of sales training and then expect miracles, you’re wasting your time.

THE NEXT SIX MONTHS

The two or three or four days you take for sales training isn’t the part that really matters. What you as the Director of Ticket Sales do over the next six months is what will make all the difference in the world and determine if you hit your revenue goals.

Sure, you can build an alter in your bedroom and make perpetual nirvanas to the gods and hope your team trades for a superstar that will alter the landscape of your team. Or, pray for the top free agent to decide they want to sign with your team.

Or, you can follow up your week of training and really ingrain it in to your salespeople’s psyche, their mindset and their everyday activities. Your goal should be that at the end of six months, your salespeople are so well-trained, they are as good as a three year veteran. Here’s what you do:

• One on One Meetings – Each week you should be meeting with each salesperson one on one. These meetings are designed to work on each salesperson’s weaknesses to help them improve. You also should review pending prospects (people they’ve already met with that haven’t said yes yet) to develop go-back strategies and upcoming meetings. These meetings should take 45-60 minutes.

• On-going videotaping - You may have put them on camera during training. That’s terrific. Keep it up for the next six months every week. Have two salespeople pair off after hours and videotape. One is the prospect and one is the salesperson. Then reverse the role. Don’t let the same salespeople pair up each week or it will get stale. As the Sales Manager, you should review that videotape before your one on one with each salesperson. Take notes on where they can improve. Then, during your one on one meeting, review the videotape with the salesperson, stopping at places where they could improve so you can make suggestions. The video camera is the most powerful sales training tool you have. Don’t put it in mothballs until next year’s full staff sales training. Videotape them every week for the next six months.

• Weekly Ticketing Meetings – These are weekly meetings for each part of your sales department. Your outside sales staff, group sales staff and inside sales staff should each have their own meeting. These meetings are for the sole purpose of reviewing objections, sales techniques and ways to help each salesperson sell more successfully. Don’t hold these meetings at 9am or 1pm in the middle of the day. You don’t want to take away from their time on the phones or in face to face meetings. Hold the meeting at 4 or 4:30pm at the end of the day. It should last no more than an hour. You as the Sales Manager have to prepare for the meeting to make it effective. Have scenarios and situations that you picked up from your One on One meetings to go over. Use 3-4 real life examples and share them with everyone. Chances are if something happened to one salesperson, it’s also happened to your other salespeople. Also have one Ticket Sales Department meeting to cover housekeeping items that everyone needs to know. This meeting shouldn’t be long, no more than 30 minutes. Again, do it at the end of the day.

• Study the Reports – I’m not talking about fan surveys. I’m talking about studying the daily and weekly reports you keep track of. You should be tracking the following:

1. Daily phone calls
2. Weekly phone calls
3. Weekly appointments
4. Monthly appointments
5. Daily Sales
6. Weekly Sales
7. Monthly Sales
8. Sales YTD

You’ll notice I put the sales numbers last. That’s because I believe the most important gauge of a salesperson’s success is their activity. If they make enough phone calls, they should make enough appointments. If they make enough appointments, they should make enough sales. Don’t just study the sales report. There is a cause and effect. You need to watch their activity. It will be a barometer of their success.

For example, if someone is making 80 calls a day but only scheduling five appointments, you know they are saying something wrong on the phone. Likewise, if they are getting 15-18 face to face appointments a week but not selling anything, you know the failure is on the sales call.

• Go on 10 sales calls a week – The best way for the Sales Manager to learn what is going on in the field is to be in the field. Focus on going on two sales calls a day. The key is you aren’t taking over the sales call. The salesperson is the ‘play by play’ on the sales call. You are the color commentator. You chime in when you can be helpful and provide additional insight that can help close the sale. If you just took over the sales call, the salesperson would never learn. The most important part of going on the sales call isn’t necessarily the sales call. It’s the time driving to the sales call and driving back. This time gives you the chance to really talk with the salesperson; prep for the call on the way there, and then review the call on the way back. Ideally, the Sales Manager got to that position because they were the top salesperson at that team or a different team. The best way to transfer those sales skills is through going on sales calls.

HOLY COW THAT’S A LOT OF TIME

Does it seem like a lot of time to have these meetings and go on sales calls? It might. But let’s look at it closely. Assume you work from 8-5:30 and take 30 minutes every day for lunch. That’s a 45 hour work week. Here’s how it would break down.

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A good rule of thumb is you should spend 65-70% of your time working with your salespeople. You might ask, when do I do everything else, like go to staff meetings, review marketing materials or generally waste time? Well, we’ve left you about three hours each day to do all that stuff. If your boss calls you in to countless meetings that don’t help you sell more tickets, tell him you don’t want to attend. If they don’t help you sell more tickets, turn down the meeting. Your salespeople are the most important tool you have to sell more tickets.

Sales trainers are terrific. I know most of the ones that focus on the sports industry. I’ve done sales training for teams, not only when I was with Mandalay but as a consultant. However, I don’t believe sales training is effective unless there is a commitment to follow up. Whether you hire an outside sales trainer or do it yourself, make sure you take the above steps. If you do, watch your salespeople develop and count the sales rolling in.

P.S. If you are a salesperson and don’t have a Sales Manager who does any of this stuff, you can do three things. 1) Print this column out and slide it under their door and see if they get the hint, 2) do it yourself. Howie Nuchow and I used to practice our sales pitch on our own when we were both with the New Jersey Nets or 3) sharpen up your resume and send it to teams with a sales culture. If you’re looking for suggestions on the best teams to work for, send me a note.

Steve DeLay has spent more than 20 years in the sports business working for teams in the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. He presently works as a consultant for teams and colleges on increasing revenues from sponsorship and ticket sales strategy and training. He can be reached at stevedelay@earthlink.net or @SteveDeLay2.

Check out past Ticket Sales & Service articles on The Migala Report.

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