Winning is the lone word too many people think will solve every single problem in a sports organization. Don’t get me wrong; when team performance flourishes most things get better. Personally, I don’t have much experience with such situations. You might call me unlucky, but I consider myself one of the luckiest people. Why? Because I’ve learned and developed ways to sell a losing team. Team performance is one of the biggest objections we face in selling sports. Below are three tips for success, regardless of how the team is doing in the standings.
1. Win the heart or mind of your prospect
What kind of person are you dealing with? Is emotion (heart) or logic (mind) the best route to talk with them?
Connect with emotions by sharing personal anecdotes. Have them open up about experiences with your team or venue. Ask about personal game-day stories. Reminisce in the great times they’ve had. For many people, buying tickets is an emotionally-driven buy.
Win the minds of analytical, price/data-driven people by helping them solve a complex problem. Selling to businesses and partnerships requires developing a partnership approach. You are helping them identify a need. They may not have been able to specify the real need. Use proof to discuss your ticket/partnership solution in very tangible ways.
“Always sell the experiences and the memories. I vividly remember going to games when I was young. The things I remember are the fun experiences I had with the people close to me, not the win or loss. Sales execs need to tap into those experiences, and who they spent them with. Those are the things you’re after. Not wins and losses.” – Rob Kristiniak, Director of Group Sales, Florida Panthers
2. Groups, groups, groups
Group tickets are the heart and soul of an organization not performing well on the field or court. Theme nights attract groups. Groups mean hundreds or thousands of tickets bought by people who would not come to that specific game in the first place. Some successful theme nights include sports disability night, singles night, breast cancer awareness day, and armed forces day.
Provide a unique experience and purpose to sell the group leader. The group event or theme night exposes thousands of new people to your product who you can now prospect as warm leads. In turn, they may progress into partial plans and season tickets. Successful theme nights require planning and attention to detail, but the experience will be memorable for both you and the attendees.
3. Sell hope
Hope can be defined by “a feeling of expectation, trust, and desire for a certain thing to happen.” How do you think the Baylors of the world got so good at football? Coach Art Briles sold two and three star recruits on the belief and hope of where the football program was going.
We will always have bandwagon fans. You won’t win them all over. But, tap into their hearts and minds about the hope of good things to come, the tradition of coming to games, and how it’s a “party” no matter what. Hope and tradition can go a long way if you know your product and [act like you] know where your team is going. When the team is down:
“The best recourse to take is high energy. People won’t get excited about the team if you’re not excited about the team. Stand up, talk with your hands and really get into it when you’re on the phone. You have to sell the energy and excitement that will be there regardless of team performance. When we sell our home games, we are selling 40 hockey parties a year, and going to make sure it’s truly a party.” –Travis Gafford, Premium Sales Executive, Dallas Stars
Just remember, improvement is a process. Success is a process. Becoming the best is a process. Success takes time. Being one of the best is hard. It does not happen overnight. Work with passion. Mentally prepare to give your best. The best salespeople can push past hard – don’t let it stop you!