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JUST GET THE APPOINTMENT

Steve DeLay's picture

Face to face appointments vs. telemarketing

I had to chuckle.

I was on the phone with the VP of Sales from a major league team. We were talking about calling on corporations and how to get appointments. This team was pretty woeful, missed the playoffs last season and were playing in one of the oldest buildings in their league.

The VP said, "You know, I agree with you. I wish someone early on had told me, 'Just get the appointment,' instead of trying to qualify the business over the phone. These businesses had no idea what else I could sell them. They were just thinking 'season tickets'. I had so much more to sell them. If I had focused on appointments, I would have been so much more successful."

They Just Don't Know

I remember when I first started with the New Jersey Nets. We were awful, the laughingstock of the NBA and of the Greater New York area. Nobody wanted season tickets for the New Jersey Nets. But, they might want a half season plan or 14 game plan to bring their clients and prospects to see Larry Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq etc. They might want a luxury suite once a month to wow big clients and thank hard-working employees. Heck, they just might want a chance to offer their employees the chance to pay for their own ticket to see the biggest and best of the NBA or a fun Friday night out with the family at a game.

There was no way for that company to know I had all those options unless I got in front of them, walked them through how they could use our various ticket products and asked them to buy. I've been working in the sports industry for more than 20 years and only one time have I walked in to a sales call and the prospect said, "Good thing you're here. I've been meaning to stop by your office and buy season tickets." In the thousands of other sales calls I've been on, I've had to position my ticket products in a way that made them see that they could benefit.

I always laughed when I'd get the prospect on the phone and get "I'm not interested," when I mentioned my team's name. I wanted to spit back, "Waddya mean you're not interested? You don't even know what I'm offering." They weren't interested because they thought I was only offering season tickets.

I have an idea I think you'd be interested in...

We taught our salespeople to never even mention the word tickets when calling for an appointment. Your salespeople aren't 'ticket salespeople' to a corporation. They are 'business development managers' who have a tool to help that particular company grow their business. (That tool just happens to be your team's tickets but you don't bring that up until 6-8 minutes in to the sales presentation).

Also, nobody wants to spend an hour with a salesperson. The idea that you'll consistently be successful convincing a CEO or President of a company to come down to the arena to visit, take a tour, sit in seats, meet the GM etc is far-fetched. Sure, it will happen with a few prospects who are already big fans or if your team is on a big updraft but if you're the VP of Sales for that down-trodden team in an old building, good luck getting a regular flow of top execs to come to you. You have to go see them. Your close ratio will be dramatically higher. Well trained salespeople should close 25-30% of their face to face appointments vs. 5% of telemarketing calls.

When you get the decision maker on the phone, remember they still won't want to spend an hour with you in their office. Time is money. Tell them up front your meeting will be short. "I need to show you this idea. It will only take ten minutes and you can judge for yourself whether it will work for your company like it has for dozens of others I've worked with."

Do you have a strategy and script for getting appointments?

If you're going to target businesses, you can't just wing it.

A few weeks ago in a blog, I challenged salespeople to get in early to reach decision makers. I heard from a couple that they scheduled multiple appointments, booked some corporate groups and had success. One salesperson who was primarily selling group tickets even tried it and had success. They were able to reach some school principals and HR Directors that they had never been able to talk to before.

Sure there were a lot of voicemails and no answers but those happen from 9-5 even more often. If you are one of those salespeople that have taken the challenge and started coming in early, do you know what to say when the decision maker answers the phone? Are you startled and stumble and fumble? Are you prepared with a concise opening line and a reason they should listen to you? You have to be sharp and polished to get them to agree to see you. You only have a few seconds for them to say "Yes" or you hear 'click'. What is your script? Have you practiced it? Do you rehearse it so you know it backwards and forwards?

Getting appointments with corporations isn't easy. It takes calling early with a specific strategy and well-rehearsed techniques. If you don't have those techniques down pat, you're just spinning your wheels and wasting time. You can learn more of those techniques in The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House or send me an email on what you do now to get appointments and I'll be happy to give you some feedback.

Steve DeLay is co-author with Jon Spoelstra of "The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House", a complete How-To guide to ticket sales strategy, tactics and training for teams and colleges. He has spent more than 20 years working for teams in the NBA, NHL, MLB and Minor League baseball. He can be reached at stevedelay@earthlink.net or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeLay2.

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