I’ve been involved in sports sales for more than 13 years. I sold myself, I have been a sales manager, and now I conduct sports sales training with teams in different leagues and markets all over the country. I’ve met a lot of salespeople selling in all types of supply and demand situations.
I have worked with the hungry but inexperienced inside salesperson, the successful account executive and the seasoned industry vet. I will admit, every person is different and every sales environment is different. However, one thing is for certain, in this business it’s about results and all of us have goals to hit. If you aspire to grow in the sports sales world it’s imperative you’re hitting your goals.
We all have different targets and areas of focus, however I believe success in sports sales can be determined by focusing on 5 key areas. If you do these things, and do them consistently, I can guarantee you’ll be either at or over your sales goals each campaign:
1. Focus on new business – If your team is winning or you’re the primary team in your market it’s easy to get comfortable fielding inbound requests. You get more inbound calls and warm web leads and people are coming to you. You’re selling them so your results look ok and it’s easy to fall into that trap and get complacent. Also, if you’ve been in your role awhile, chances are you have a pretty good book of business and network built. It’s always easier to talk to someone you know or someone that comes to you with interest in buying something. But if you rely too much on those inbound leads, and your current book, you’ll struggle getting to your end goal. In all situations you always have to carve out time for new business outreach. Don’t rely just on the low hanging fruit.
2. Set appointments/meetings – It’s also easy to get into the habit of pitching over the phone. When your team is good or you’re selling transactional season tickets and mini plans it’s even easier. Generally, the lower dollar amount of the sale the easier it is to close on the phone. But if you’re only selling the affordable seats and smaller plans it’s going to be tough to get to your end goal. Meeting face to face you’ll build stronger relationships, paint a better picture of the experience and you can leverage those things to drive higher dollar sales. Even if you don’t work at the stadium, meet out in the field, face to face with new prospects is always better and will set you up to succeed.
3. Make more outreach – Sports sales, especially when you’re selling season tickets and group tickets is a volume play. The more outreach you make, the more meetings you set, the more pitches you deliver the more sales you make. You may not be the best closer or the best natural seller but if you are pitching twice as many people you’ll make more sales. The best part about this one is that it’s controllable. We’ll all get the call-ins and web leads but if you’re reaching out to more people every day and having more conversations, it’s going to lead to more sales, plain and simple. Push yourself to make those last few calls and don’t be satisfied with just 5 meetings, push yourself to set more. It’ll pay off.
4. Get referrals and prospect – Across the industry referrals and prospecting are consistently the two top sources of new business sales. The leads you get from your boss are important but go the extra mile and look for new prospects on your own. Be mindful of signs, commercials, construction zones and other things you see in the community. Read the local paper, watch TV, google new businesses coming to town among other things. Especially selling to businesses, if you know someone is spending and/or growing they’re a good target. Referrals are key too, why? Because you gain an “in” and get connected right to a decision maker. You have trust and credibility already because of your relationship with the person that referred you. It should be easy to book a lunch or meeting from there and you’re off and running. Focus on staying close to your account base, take care of your people, get connected to their friends and ask for referrals. If you do this well, you’ll outsell your peers and hit your goals.
5. Maintain a passion to perfect the craft – No matter how long you’ve been selling you need to be humble enough to admit you can always get better. Ask your boss for feedback, have them shadow you on appointments, ask if they’ll practice sales scenarios with you, practice with your peers as well. Also, sharing best practices and testimonials as a group is helpful too. Regardless of where you are on the board you can always get better. If you’re working hard and maintain that commit to improve your process and technique, you will and the results will follow.
Unfortunately, not everyone in this business hits their goals and not everyone stays in the industry. But if you want to be a long term player in the sports sales game you have to hit your goals consistently and by focusing on these 5 things, it’ll ensure you will.
Bob Hamer is the President of Sports Business Solutions and creator of theClubhouse sports business community. The company provides sales training, consulting and recruiting services to sports teams and properties. Prior to that he was the Vice President of Ticket Sales for the Phoenix Suns. The company mission is to help people succeed in sports business. To learn more about Sports Business Solutions visit www.sportsbusiness.solutions and follow along on social media @SportsBizBob and @SportsBizSol.