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Steve DeLay's picture

What do golf and ticket sales have in common?

I've been struggling recently on the golf course.

Scores 8-10 strokes higher than normal.

So, what did I do?

Well, first, I blamed my equipment. It had to be improperly fitted to me. Wrong loft, shaft or toe weighting. Something. Couldn't be the operator. In fact, I was playing golf recently with someone who commented, "That hybrid is really toe-weighted. That's why you're hooking it so badly."

Looking for any excuse other than myself, I did what any manic golfer would do. I went to a club fitter and said, "I hate this club. It's not fitted right for me. I've been told it's toe-weighted so I hook it all the time. What else do you have?"


The club fitter (who actually was the same guy who fitted me for the hybrid six months earlier) asked me to hit a few balls so he could have the computer launch monitor evaluate my swing. If you don't play golf, you wouldn't realize launch monitors are the greatest thing going for golfers and the worst thing. It tells a golfer all kinds of data about club face angle, swing path, clubhead speed etc, etc. It basically undresses your swing and tells you where you're bad.

Lo and behold after about five swings, the club fitter and computer clearly identified it wasn't the club but the swing. He made a few suggestions based on what the computer told him and lickity-split, I was striping the hybrid right down the middle. Saved me a couple hundred bucks not having to buy a new club.


I started thinking. Maybe it wasn't the clubs, the wind, the weather, my stiff back. Maybe it was my swing. I've been playing golf for 30 years and am a single digit handicap. However, I hadn't had a lesson for 30 years, basically since I started the game. Maybe there was an expert out there who could tell me why I was in such a slump. After all, one expert told me the clubs weren't causing my slump. Maybe there was a swing expert who could fix what ails me on my swing.

I went to a buddy who is a golf pro at a course in Las Vegas. They were launching a five session 'clinic' on different parts of the golf swing. Skeptical that it could really help, I signed up.

The first clinic came around. the instructor started with the basics. "Here is how you grip the golf club. Here's how you set up to the golf ball." Stuff I thought I knew like the back of my hand. All of a sudden, I'm realizing I am doing it wrong.

There were five people in the clinic. My buddy asked me a few questions about my problems and watched me hit some balls. He made one suggestion. Things got a little better. He made another suggestion. Things got really good while he was watching. I was thrilled. He moved on to the next person in the clinic.

Then, I went out on the golf course to play. Everything he suggested evaporated from my mind. My game was just as bad as before. Every ball I was striping on the range while he watched, disappeared on the course. Then it struck me like those V-8 commercials. I pretty much wanted to smack my forehead. DUH. You have to practice what the expert just taught you. It ain't gonna be automatic. It takes tremendous practice to really get good at anything.

I've now committed myself to three hours a week of practicing my golf game. If I don't, the clinic lessons will be wasted. I'll be pissed off at my clubs and blame them. Practice is the only way to get better.


Let's look at the correlations to ticket sales.

  1. I blamed the clubs as being poorly fit. I didn't remember that six months ago with the same clubs I was shooting in the 70's. How many ticket salespeople out there have said, "Geez, if we'd only win more, selling tickets would be so much easier." Sure, a team that's at the bottom of the league standings is tough to sell, just like trying me trying to play golf with my 12 year old nephew's clubs. However, if you're team is reasonably competitive and you have the right ticket products to fit your target market, you can't complain.
  2. The video monitor told me exactly where I was off. If you're struggling to sell tickets, put yourself on the video camera to see what you sound and look like. Like the video monitor, the video camera doesn't lie. If you haven't videotaped your sales pitch in a while, get on the camera. You'll be shocked at what you're missing. If you're the Sales Manager, you're responsibility is to make sure your salespeople are 'swinging right'.
  3. I asked the experts. I didn't rely on my 10 handicap golf pal to tell me what was wrong with my clubs or my swing. I went to the experts. If you're a salesperson in a slump, ask your boss to watch your video with you. It's like me asking my golf teaching pro friend to help me with my swing.
  4. I practiced. Working your way out of a sales slump isn't going to happen with one sales call. It's going to take work. Just like me fixing my golf swing. I've committed three hours/week to improve my golf game. How many hours per week have you committed to improve your sales skills, your sales game?


Even after 30 years of playing golf, I've gone back to the fundamentals. Grip, stance, what to look at. How to aim. For ticket sales, don't wait 30 years to start thinking again about the fundamentals. This is your profession. You need to have the fundamentals nailed down. Here's how:

  1. Videotape regularly. It's painful and embarrassing but it absolutely positively helps.
  2. Go on sales calls with your Sales Manager. They are experienced and can give you pointers on how to get better.
  3. Practice your craft. Ticket sales isn't a hobby. It's your job. You should practice and role play regularly to get better.
  4. No excuses. I thought about naming this column 'No Excuses' until I realized ticket sales is so much more than blaming the team's performance. Great salespeople who are going to go on to huge careers never make excuses. They don't blame the team's record, the competition in the market or the prices. They just get it done.

If you want help or suggestions on getting your salespeople or even your own sales season on the right track, check out The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House for more ideas and suggestions. Or, send me an email. I'm happy to help.

Steve DeLay is the co-author with Jon Spoelstra of "The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House", a complete Ticket Sales strategy, tactics, training and management system for teams and colleges who want to dramatically ramp up ticket sales. Jon and Steve have more than 50 years between them helping teams sell tickets. You can reach Steve at or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeLay2.

Check out past Ticket Sales Thursday posts on The Migala Report.

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

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