This was a quote from Paul Danforth, the Head of Global Sales at CAA. He said it at a recent Sports Business Journal conference.
He was on a panel with Sam Kennedy, President of the Red Sox, and a few others talking about the advent of technology in sales. Kennedy added, "You're not going to make a sale over text message or Twitter."
EAT, SLEEP AND BREATHE SELLOUTS. THAT'S WHAT FANS WILL TALK ABOUT
A number of years ago, I had a job interview for a VP of Ticket Sales position with a major professional team. I was a relatively young buck and felt like I had the strategy the team needed to sell boatloads of tickets.
Get a Yes to these three questions and you'll wake up excited to go to work
Take a moment to Google "How many people are happy in their job" and you'll find story after story saying anywhere from 60-80 percent of people aren't happy in their job. Wow! What a miserable way to spend 8-10 hours a day. Doing something that makes you unhappy. Look around you. Four out of the five people you see at your office aren't happy. You may be one of them.
I was boiling mad. I hope the staff and salespeople were boiling mad also.
I don't get pissed off easily. In this case though, I was steaming walking out of this sales call.
I and my partner Jon Spoelstra are part owners of a summer collegiate baseball team in Savannah, GA. The team has gotten tremendous publicity including ESPN, Yahoo Sports, NBC Sports Network and even features on the team dog, Daisy. That's what made me so mad.
I stopped in at a shoe store earlier this week to have some shoes repaired. I had a choice with the shoes. Have them sewn and look reasonable or buy a brand new pair.
The shoe repair guy, who looked a bit like a character out of a Harry Potter movie, took my shoes and said he could fix them, "$18 bucks" he said. Sounds like a great deal I thought. $18 for a repair or $100+ for a new pair. "Go ahead." I said.
I was just a kid when I first saw this phenomenon.
It was at my first real job—selling season tickets for the lowly New Jersey Nets—years and years ago.
At the time the Nets were in their sixth straight year of being the worst team in the NBA. And they were pitted against the worst team in Western Conference, the Sacramento Kings. Heck, I didn’t think a lot of folks in New Jersey even knew that there was a team from Sacramento.
A college professor friend of mine introduced me to a student who wanted to interview me for a class project. Happy to oblige, I said sure. I set a time for the student to call me. The student even went as far as to send me the questions he had prepared that he wanted to discuss.
The time for our 'interview call' came and went. I sent an email to the student wanting to make sure I hadn't scheduled the wrong time or something else was amiss.
Jordan Spieth signed up with a new golf coach when he was 13 years old.
The coach told him, “If you really want to improve, you’re going to have to practice what I teach you instead of just going out and playing golf. It won’t be easy. You will be really uncomfortable for four or five months but you will get better.”
Jordan Spieth did what the coach said. After all, he was just 13 years old at the time.
When you were growing up, your mother reminded you over and over, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Now, I want to remind you to have your salespeople talk to strangers. In fact, we want them to be very comfortable talking to strangers.
We know getting an appointment with the top executive of a company is the toughest part of making a sale. Yep, the appointment. The untrained salesperson fumbles all over the place in trying to get an appointment. The trained salesperson knows when to dial a prospect, what to say on the phone, and how to handle objections.
If you’re a ticket sales manager, which one of your salespeople is a potential Steph Curry?
Whoa! What type of crazy point am I trying to make? A Steph Curry in your midst? Working for you? Hah!
Well, your salespeople are probably developing their craft, just like Steph once did years ago. How did that early development go for Steph? Here’s Steph describing himself in his early stages of building his skills: “All summer, when I was at camps, people were like, 'Who are you, why are you playing basketball?' I was really that bad… [before] I finally figured it out."
I didn’t think this was going to be a difficult question. Or be embarrassing for those that answered.
The question was asked to VP-Ticket Sales teams for three teams in three different leagues. One thing these teams had in common was that each had told me that they wanted to dramatically ramp up ticket sales to corporations.
I asked, “How do you now make sure your sales staff is calling on every single qualified company in your market?”
Since we were on the phone, I couldn’t see their faces. I imagined, however, that thousand mile stare.
That’s what the Director of Ticket Sales for a major college told me.
He said, “We had no strategy, no plan, no direction in ticket sales. We were just shooting blindly following the latest trends. First it was text messaging. Then it was analytics. Then it was social selling like Linkedin. They all sort of helped but none felt like a system.”
Is cutting in line fair? Well, let’s put it this way: cutting in line is opportunistic. You get the job with the team you want.
If you read the rest of this article, I will tell you how to get that job in sports.
But, let me ask you a question. I’m curious about your response. I asked this very same question to a sports management class on their first day of the semester. Let me tell you, only one person raised their hand when I asked the question. She was even a bit embarrassed.
Okay, I’m making you the CEO of a company that has about 50 employees. Yep, we’re doing some role playing.
Your company also has four salespeople that call on local businesses. As CEO, you’re always concerned about new business. Alas, your salespeople aren’t. You’ve tried various incentives to get your salespeople focused on new business without moving the needle. Now, enter me, Steve DeLay. I’m a ticket salesperson from your local team.
You say to me after you hear my pitch, “You want me to buy season tickets?”
GETTING A YES TO THIS QUESTION PUTS YOUR SALES CALL ON A PATH TO SUCCESS
A young outside salesperson for a team I work with was fired up. "Third sale in two days to an apartment complex. In fact, these guys bought 20 seats on a ten game plan." he told me beaming when he came back to the office.
"Really? Great sale. How are they using the tickets?" I asked since apartment complexes are a bit of a non-traditional ticket sale. After all, they don't really have 'salespeople' in the normal sense.
When the pressure comes to focus on the dog games, stand strong
If emails could talk, this one would have sounded panic stricken.
Here's what it said.
"We've sold out our first two targeted sellout games. Our next big game is the first Saturday in December and it looks good. But, we struggled on Halloween night and our owner wants to know what we're going to do to sell some of our weaker attractions. What do I do?"
The next two weeks are great weeks for getting appointments and training
Most spring/summer sports shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year. I'm all for giving staff and salespeople some time off but don't discount the value of at least a few days of office time the next two weeks.
True, some business executives also take the week off between Christmas and New Year. However, I've found in my career that those that are in their office between the two holidays are much more likely to answer the phone and agree to meetings after the first of the year.
DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY WITH ANALYTICS...YOU STILL HAVE TO SELL
I ran in to a major professional team that has more people in their analytics department then they do in their sales department. Not surprisingly, that team is in the bottom five of their league in attendance.
You need salespeople to sell tickets. I'm all for analytics but don't let analytics distract you from the basic fundamentals of selling.
There was a terrific quote in last week's issue of Sports Business Journal.
Shelly Lazurus, Chairman Emeritus of Olgivy & Mather.
Don't just assume they know your sales pitch. Test them. Watch them live
"I don't get it." the caller sounded desperate. "We did an outside sales boot camp back in June like you have laid out in The Ultimate Toolkit. We started strong getting appointments and making sales but things have died off. We can't get appointments and the ones we do get, we aren't closing. Our season is starting soon. It should be our busiest time. What do I do?"