Simple, Not Easy

I can’t tell you how many times I tell people what I do for a living, and they come back with one of the following two responses:

1) What do you do in the off season, golf? or;

2) Selling sports tickets must be easy.

Please note, if you know someone that works for a professional sports team, don’t say either of those things.  It’s like asking a police officer if he takes a nap between pulling people over.

I am going to address the second comment during this entry.  As sports marketing professionals, what we do is simple – but it certainly isn’t easy.  While it might seem more glamorous than selling life insurance or blue widgets, I have some news for you.

– We have desks just like you do at your job;

– We have telephones, email, and computers, just like you;

– We have the same life issues that you might encounter at work, like that annoying co-worker who doesn’t always smell right.

– We have to work long hours and holidays when others have the day off (the NBA plays on Christmas, the NHL on New Years, and don’t forget about College Bowl Season!)

The only difference is, often times our office is located at a sports arena or stadium, oh – and we sell something that nobody really needs.

Our process, like yours is a simple one however, and even with emerging technology (facebook, twitter, this blog, linkedin) the process remains the same, and it works for every team, in every city, in every market across the country.

  • We pick up the telephone and call the prospect and work hard at getting an appointment (our ticket sales training goes into specifics, you understand why we won’t do that here);
  • We go to the appointment and speak with the person that can buy the tickets – and we ask a lot of questions about their business;
  • Because we are the experts in sports marketing (like you might be a great engineer, or amazing police officer) we are able to make recommendations to the decision maker on how our tickets can benefit their business;
  • Then we ask them to buy.

Yea, there are more steps involved – but the process is simple, not easy.

While it might be good to reach out via linkedin or other social media platforms (I have about 550 linkedin connections, 200 of which have come over the last 40 days, and most have come because of a personal connection first), you honestly don’t know if they know who you are or if they are just collecting linkedin contacts (which some people do).  Then when you follow up with an email, and even if you personalize it I have some news for you (key decision makers know it’s generic), it gets deleted.  Then when you finally get to calling them, they might recognize your name and didn’t read an email from you.

You think it’s a warm call, and they have no clue who you are or what your product does.

In addition to all of this – it takes somewhere between 8 and 12 calls to close a sports related sale.  Most sales people give up on call six.  Understanding the metrics and how it works in our business is necessary for success, and I want to share the averages for you right now:

  • It takes 100 calls a day to get 2 appointments;
  • It takes 2 appointments a day (ten per week);
  • It takes 10 appointments (see where the two per day comes into play?) to get 2 sales;
  • It takes 8-12 contacts with the prospect to get them to buy.

There it is.  The magic formula to your ticket sales success.

I know what you’re thinking though, so let me answer the objection before you start in on the excuse.  In every single sales training we do, when we tell the staff that they need to make 100 outbound calls a day, I am told (100% of the time) by one sales executive in each group the following:

  • “It is impossible to make 100 outbound calls per day”

Let’s do some math, shall we?

If you are an average sales person, you have eight hours of work in your day  – so we are going to start with that number – 8 hours.

If you are like most of us (and one of the reasons it takes several calls to get an appointment), on average, you leave 75% voice mails.  As long as you are leaving proper voice mails, they should last anywhere from :30 to one minute.  For easy math, I am going to give you the one minutes.

8 hours in a work day.

75 minutes of voice mails.

Two appointments out of the office (3 hours)

That is a total of four hours and 15 minutes used in a day, so I have another question…

What do you do with the other 4(ish) hours that you’re working, or if you are a successful ticket sales rep – 6 or 7 hours?

The first thing we cover in sales training is how to balance your work day – if you do it properly, you can and will hit these metrics.

Now go sell something.


Sales Might Be The Most Important Thing (and by might, I mean is)…

Since we opened PSO360 a few years ago, we have had the opportunity to experience the best of minor league sports business operations and the not so good.  We have helped a number of teams turn around their operations by either setting up their front offices for them, or creating an atmosphere of continued learning and growth.

The last few weeks, however, have been somewhat of a challenge.

Three times in the last month, we have had great opening conversations with prospective teams looking to join the PSO family.  Two soccer clubs (both indoor) and one Indoor Football team.  For those that have followed our company over the years, you know that we specialize in niche’ indoor sports like soccer and arena football, so we have been down this path before.

In each instance, these teams have a full time staff of one.  You didn’t read that wrong – one. They have filled out the rest of their staff roster with part time people (all of whom have other jobs in the community) and interns (who don’t have a personal stake in the results).

A commission only staff with no training is a recipe for complete disaster.  Part time staff have no risk and only reward, and the team is not seeing the full benefits that a full time staff can offer.

When your staff have full time jobs that provide a full time income, health insurance and more importantly security for their family, they will work very hard for that employer, while doing “what they can” for your team.

When you take into account that they might have children who have dance or scouts, church or other activities, not to mention having to invest in their marriage, what time will that leave for your club?  It’s hard enough to sell tickets or sponsorships on a full time basis if your a minor league club, imagine if you have someone simply sending emails, or making a call here and there – and imagine how much worse it will be when that person doesn’t connect with the right contact, says the right thing, or even worse – makes promises that the team can’t keep.

If you can’t afford to have a full time sales team, then you shouldn’t be the owner of a professional sports team.  If you can afford it, then you should have them trained appropriately, either by our firm or another.

Knowing what to say when you reach the right person, and how to develop a long term relationship with your club is key to the long term stability of your franchise.  If you currently do not have a full time sales staff,  know that the other teams in your market do, and when they are talking to the Boy Scouts, or a large automobile manufacturer they will win the business.  It takes between 8 and 12 calls (contacts) to sell a client – how often is your “part time” sales guy reaching out to your key prospects when they are not really held responsible for their activity?

In my 20 years in sports, I have never seen the “no staff” approach work.  As buyers become more sophisticated in how they interact with the local team, I don’t believe it’s going to begin to work now.




Six Words That Will Change Your (Sales) Life

Have you ever been in what seemed to be the longest sales cycle of your life?

Call after call, and you keep telling your sales manager that the prospect has come up with another reason not to buy this week – even though you have had several fruitful conversations.

Here is an inside tip – a number of times you are stringing the prospect along, not the other way around.

That’s right.  You.  And it can be just as frustrating for the prospect as it is for you and your sales manager.

So let’s solve this issue today.

Ask for the business 100% of the time, or get out of the sports business.

The title of this article is “Six Words That Will Change Your Sales Life,” and I have to tell you – they changed mine.  But you have to be ready to use them, because when you do, it’s going to cause sales and more work for your service team.

Will. You. Buy. My. Product. Now?

There you go.

I had the opportunity last year to work with a young woman who is an account executive with a minor league hockey team.  After our sales training seminar, I spent the next two days in the field with their account reps.  The manager asked me to pay particular attention to this young lady.  He told me that she was dynamic at getting appointments, great with existing customers and her renewals approached almost 85% – the highest in the league!

Where she was struggling however, was new business, and it was getting to the point where she might be let go if she couldn’t hit her numbers.

We visited a prospect that she had seen before, and she again went through her sales pitch, shared with him how they could increase their business by utilizing her teams seating inventory.  It was a great meeting, but it was the third time he had heard “the pitch”.

As we wrapped up, this nice young lady scheduled a follow up call with the prospect for one week later.  He excused us and walked us to the door.

I stopped him.

“Sir,” I said. “You seemed to like everything that my colleague, and have agreed to talk with her about this again next week, which would be the fourth time you have spoken about our tickets.”


I paused as he shook his in the affirmative.

“Let me ask you a quick question, Can we reserve your seats today?”

(Notice the question was six words – and in translation simply say “Will you buy my product now?”)

He stopped.  Looked at the both of us and said “I would love to pick out my seats, and my administrative assistant will cut you a check when you leave.”

The problem with our young account executive was not that she wasn’t good at her job, she just wasn’t asking the right question.

He would not have invited her back if he wasn’t considering buying seats, and wouldn’t have agreed to see her again the following week if he had no intention of purchasing.

Asking for the business 100% of the time is the most critical part of your job.

It’s the transmission of your sales car.  If you are not going to ask for the business, it’s time to try a new business.

Incidentally, while this story would be much better if our account executive finished the season in first place in sales and was promoted – that didn’t happen.

She finished second out of 12, and because of the types of sales she closed (premium seats, suites), she made more money than both the first place finisher and her manager.  Not bad for a girl who couldn’t close.

Show me the money