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The Ultimate Toolkit Secrets Revealed

Stay up-to-date on everything going on in the world of ticketing, sponsorship and marketing

with one of the best: Steve DeLay

Congratulations to Jon Spoelstra for being named one of Sports Business Journal’s Champions of the Sports Business Industry.

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  • 12 Jan 2021 5:12 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Make life easy for your bosses

    By: Steve DeLay

    “How are we doing on ticket sales?”

    Do you have an answer for this question when your owner asks?

    My team presidents do when I ask. You should as well with one simple report.

    The report I’m talking about is month by month ticket sales vs. budget.


    Here’s what most teams do and why team owners become maniacs and sales managers become basket cases.

    You and your staff set a ticket sales budget for the season. Hopefully, you go deeper and set ticket sales goals for season tickets, ticket packages, groups, hospitality and even single game sales.

    Then you let it sit there. It’s a huge, scary number when you look at the season as a whole and don’t break it down in to bite-sized pieces. After all, if you were trying to lose 30 pounds, would you stare at that 30 lb. number or would you say you wanted to lose 5 pounds a month for six months? Which would seem easier to accomplish?

    I’m sure you keep track of your progress. You probably do a daily sales report. But that only shows you how you are doing against the total budget. We all know that sales come in waves. The start of the selling season is pretty slow. Closer to the start of the season, sales ramp up dramatically.

    Make your life easy. Simply set month by month goals for each ticket product you have. Those month by month goals will add up to the total budget goals for each product for the year.

    Now, when your boss or owner asks, “How are we doing on ticket sales?”, you can give him or her specific numbers and say something like,

    “We’re ahead of pace by this much in seasons, behind by this much in ticket packages and overall, we are even with the pace we need to be in order to hit budget.”

    He or she will just nod, and head on their way to the next conversation or subject.

    I can tell from experience, my team in Florence, S.C., is way behind our monthly pace in season ticket sales. Am I panicked? Nope, because I know we’re way ahead of pace in ticket package sales, more than off-setting the shortfall in season tickets. I ask, my president tells me and I move on to the next subject.

    Simply, a month by month report works whether you are in-season right now, or anxiously awaiting the rules, guidelines and details to be able to sell for this summer.


    We all know young people don’t respond well to big, scary goals. Their year-long sales number is so out there to them, it’s incomprehensible. So, make them feel like they are accomplishing things by breaking down their goals the same way you do for the team, month by month and product by product.

    Then, celebrate each time you hit those goals. Little victories in this environment will go a long, long way!

  • 05 Jan 2021 5:48 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    As we start the 2021 year, let’s not waste time looking back at a 2020 that was a train-wreck of a disaster. Let’s look forward to 2021 and starting thinking about what a return to sports normalcy could look like. But, there will be challenges. How will you handle them?

    What if…?

    WHAT IF you’re told by ownership you have to operate with 50% fewer salespeople than you had before but still sell the same number of tickets as before? What digital tools can replace salespeople? 

    WHAT IF when you do get the go-ahead to hire your sales staff back, every other sports team in the country is hiring at the same time? How are you going to present your ‘career’ opportunity in a way to make it seem like the best place in the country to work? Have you built your organization’s culture and brand up in a way to get the best and the brightest or will you have the same old job descriptions, posted in the same places?

    WHAT IF when you do get the go-ahead, you only have 30 days to sell tickets until your home opener? How are you going to get your sales staff up and running and trained quickly to be effective? Cram everyone into a crowded conference room for two days of training…two days you can’t afford to lose in such a short sales season?

    WHAT IF what you thought were your loyal season ticket holders don’t return as quickly as you hope? They’ve lived a season without you and a season without the fun of going to full sports venues and decided they don’t need to spend the money on season tickets? Instead, they’ll buy game by game. How will you adjust your ticket product marketing mix, post-pandemic?

    WHAT IF your ad budget is cut in half and the same tried and true forms of advertising like radio and TV don’t work? What if, as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram usage levels out, even those strategies don’t work as well as they used to for you? What are you going to do next to sell more tickets and develop personal relationships with your fans?

    WHAT IF you took some time to study businesses outside of sports that have survived and prospered in this nightmare and learned their customer experience secrets? Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas and author of “Find Your Yellow Tux” has turned the Bananas in to a wildly successful business, not just a wildly successful summer collegiate baseball team. He’s done it by turning his business upside-down and copying the best outside of the sports industry. He studies companies like My Cookie Dealer, a cookie maker out of New York who has created a fanatical following selling 5 lb. cookies.

    WHAT IF at the start of 2021, as you return to work with new energy and vigor, you and your staff took a step back and reviewed every single thing you do to sell tickets, sell merchandise and sell sponsorships and decided the same old, same old isn’t going to work any more? Would you have the guts to change? Would you have the perseverance to see change through like this little bear cub? Do you have this much determination??

    If you want some help answering these WHAT IF questions, give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

  • 07 Dec 2020 8:05 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)
    • FOMO

    • or fo·mo

      foh-moh ]

      noun Slang.

      a feeling of anxiety or insecurity over the possibility of missing out on something, as an event or an opportunity: If I say no to buying tickets to a sporting event, I get a bad case of FOMO.

      Fans are catching FOMO.  They are fed up with staying home and want to go out and do something.  They want to be entertained. 

      However, you can’t just assume they will come back.  While some fans are chomping at the bit, a big chunk of your fan base may have put you out of mind since you’ve been basically out of sight for the last eight months when they couldn’t come to games.

      In this case, the FOMO virus is a good virus and we don’t need a vaccine for it.  In fact, we want to help you help your fans catch FOMO.  It doesn’t happen by accident and there is no guarantee your fans will even want to catch FOMO so you have to help them get infected.

      There are two symptoms of FOMO:

    1. Limited supply.  This has been solved in many cases with restricted capacity, especially for hockey teams starting play this week in the ECHL and right after the first of the year in additional ECHL markets and AHL markets.

      That limited supply means you get to create a sense of urgency for your fans to quickly purchase the tickets you do have available or they are likely to get shut out. 

    2. High demand.  This symptom is a little trickier to treat.  This is where you have to engage your fan base and anyone even remotely interested in your team to get excited about coming to a game this winter or spring.  This has to be much, much, much more (did I emphasize more enough?) than just messaging that you are back and you have a good team.  Your hard core fans will buy in to that message but all of your other target audiences will need more convincing.

      You have to focus on the entertainment, atmosphere and fact that you’re providing an outlet for fun, family entertainment.  

    Once you’ve diagnosed both symptoms, the key to developing FOMO in your fans is engagement.  How are you engaging your fans with content, stories and buzz surrounding your team’s return?  You can’t easily do this right now with the usual events, player appearances or town halls.  You have to do it via social and digital media and effective email marketing.

    To learn how to do that, check out our next digital ticket sales webinar on Tuesday, December 8 at noon Eastern.  You can sign up at Digital Ticket Sales Webinar.  We’ll give you examples of teams who are helping their fans catch FOMO and building wait lists in the thousands for as soon as their tickets go on sale.

    FOMO might be the most important virus our fans can contract over the next few months to recover from the COVID 19 nightmare we’ve all been living through during 2020.

    If you can’t join Tuesday’s webinar, send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com or give me a call at 702-493-2661 and I’ll fill you in on how my teams, the Macon Bacon and Florence RedWolves are helping our fans catch FOMO.

  • 13 Oct 2020 6:30 PM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)
    • It won’t be easy.

      I’m talking about selling tickets to businesses.

      But you need to.

      You need to sell season tickets and ticket packages. You need to sell hospitality and employee outings.

      You need to sell to businesses for three key reasons:

    1. They are more reliable. Especially in a down economy, you need a solid concentration of businesses buying your tickets. If you’ve sold them correctly, they are buying to help their business grow, reward employees or thank clients. Those aspects matter even more in a down economy.
    2. They have more people to use the tickets. More employees, more clients and more salespeople. 
    3. They have more money to spend. Let’s face it, top businesses can buy your premium seating, even if the local economy is struggling, much more than individuals who are just big fans of your team. 

    The usual tools of calling to get appointments, going to networking events, visiting clients in their offices to ask for referrals will work. It will just be much harder.

    You’ll still need the key fundamentals of finding the top decision maker and getting an appointment. The difference is the appointment may be virtual, or at your arena or stadium. 

    Once you get that virtual appointment or in-person socially distanced appointment, you’ll still need to ask the right questions to make the right recommendation. You’ll just do it in a little different manner.

    The more I thought about it, the more I realized how critical B2B selling and B2B sales training is to teams, especially in a shortened off-season that’s going to be a sprint to Opening Night.


    That’s why, instead of me writing about it, let’s talk about it. Join me for a unique B2B ticket sales webinar with two of the industries’ best. Justin Ramquist, Associate VP for the Indiana Pacers has been selling B2B and managing B2B sales teams for more than 13 years, first in MiLB and now in the NBA. CJ Johnson is the President of the Winston-Salem Dash Single-A baseball team who has some of the highest priced sold out premium seating in all of MiLB. He is re-starting his sales team and sales efforts to the business community as well.

    Our B2B Ticket Sales Webinar is Tuesday, October 27 at noon Eastern. There is limited space so sign up now at B2B Tix Sales Webinar and join me talking with CJ and Justin about the right tools and techniques to sell B2B in such an unusual sports year.

  • 29 Sep 2020 10:00 PM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Allen Iverson made it famous. 

    “Practice…we’re talking about practice, not a game.”

    Michael Jordan said it even better.

    “You can practice shooting eight hours a day but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.  Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”


    Coming out of the coronavirus world, there are two things I think all of us in the sports world can take for granted:

    1. Selling will be different. Depending on your community, your state and your fan base, the ability to get face to face meetings with top business execs and top group prospects will be more challenging.  Zoom is the new norm and you and your sales staff have to be prepared to sell differently.
    2. Salespeople are well trained. I’ve heard it from numerous Sales Managers and VPs. “My staff will be exceptionally well trained.  We spent our down time role playing every week.”


    Practice is terrific. 

    My question is – Have you practiced the right way to sell? Have you practiced the right way to add sizzle to a Zoom call with a prospective group leader? Have you practiced the right way to do a socially distanced tour of your facility to get new buyers?

    I hear from a lot of teams about their new Zoom presentation. PowerPoints, pictures and graphs so it’s not just a salesperson doing a Zoom call with a prospect and two people staring at each other. Fantastic concept. But, have you practiced the call? Have you gauged your prospect’s responses to your presentation and measured your success? Are your salespeople as good on Zoom as they should be face to face?


    If you’re in states like California, New York, Oregon or Washington, you may not meet a client in person for another year. However, if you’re working in a state with more relaxed guidelines, there is a pretty high likelihood your prospects want to meet. You can meet at their office in a good sized conference room or meet at the ballpark or arena. 

    Here is why face-to-face meetings are still so critically important.

    At the ECHL marketing meetings in June, Tim Statezni from the Las Vegas Raiders gave some stats on their success in face-to-face meetings vs. virtual meetings when they were selling for their new stadium.

    It shows that the face to face is still much, much stronger than virtual. Wherever possible, face to face still reigns supreme.

    We can take two keys from Michael Jordan’s quote:

    1. Practice the right way, the right techniques. That means if you’re going to do virtual meetings, make sure your salespeople know what to say and how to run those meetings.
    2. Get the fundamentals down. That means making sure your sales staff, wherever possible still focuses on the fundamentals of getting face to face and talking about value. 


    As sports teams, we’re in real danger of fans putting us out of sight and out of mind. We see that with tumbling TV ratings. It’s up to our sales teams to bring us back from the abyss. We have to ramp up their training quickly and cost-effectively to do that.

    We can help you save time and ramp up with those fundamentals, the right practice and the right techniques through Group Sales Superstar and B2B Ticket Sales Superstar, our online training programs.   

    Feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com. I’m happy to help.

  • 22 Sep 2020 5:10 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Use all your resources wisely to succeed this season

    Six weeks. 

    That’s how long you might get between the announcement your season is on and your first home game. And, I don’t think I’m understating this when I say that those six weeks may be the most important six weeks in your franchise’s history. After all, if you don’t come back strong from the pandemic, you may never come back at all.

    If you’re a minor league baseball team, you might have a little longer. The president of a Single-A team told me last week he hopes to have their schedule in late January for a season that starts in early April. Maybe 10 weeks.

    Anyone who has sold group tickets knows that most groups, unless they are buying group tickets to see LeBron and the Lakers, don’t commit until they know what game they will be going to. That means, you have six weeks (or maybe 10 weeks) to sell all the group tickets you need for your first month of games. 

    “Aack,” you might be thinking. No way you’ll succeed. Who knows, maybe you can say some silent prayers that your state government continues to restrict your capacity. Just don’t tell your owner what you are wishing for.

    Whether it’s six weeks or 10 weeks, you’re going to have to move fast to maximize ticket sales, and especially group sales. Staffing, training, execution, more training, finding the group leaders, convincing them to come to an outing.  How to do it all in that short window?


    This year, more than ever, training is critical. And, I don’t mean the usual ‘pull everyone into the conference room for two days and drill them’ training. I mean quick, inexpensive, down and dirty training that accomplishes everything you need in that short six week window.

    Group Sales Superstar 3.0 can do that for you. Check it out at GroupSalesSuperstar.com.  Here’s why it works:

    • You get the same training as if I was standing in front of your staff. Same content, same video review, same on-going coaching.
    • You don’t have to crowd everyone into the conference room – something certainly not ideal during the coronavirus world.
    • You can start it tomorrow, or as soon as you have your staff back on board.
    • The cost is nominal, just $297 per person. Same as it has been since Day One.


    Don’t just trust me though. I’m hosting a 45-minute Group Sales Superstar webinar to explain how it works and how your team can benefit.  It’s Thursday, October 8th at noon Eastern.  You can sign up here.  Jess Knott, Director of Sales for the Altoona Curve, will talk about her experience with Group Sales Superstar and Brittany Middleton, Director of Group Sales for the Macon Bacon, will talk about the steps the Bacon took to sell group tickets this past summer.

    It’s your chance to find ways to maximize sales this season.  If you have any questions feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at SteveDeLay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

  • 31 Aug 2020 6:13 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Sell more tickets with a smaller advertising budget.

    Train more salespeople in less time.

    In essence – Do more with less.

    That’s what’s going to make you a first-ballot sports executive Hall of Famer.

    Or, at least earn you compliments from your boss and gratitude from your team owner.  I know because I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve been in your boss and your owner’s shoes.


    We’ve heard it over and over.  2020 is a year like no other.  Especially for the sports world.  When have you ever been in a situation where there is no real certainty when sports that actually have to work to sell tickets will be played again in front of crowds?  (I don’t count the NFL and Power 5 football)

    • Hockey?  No start date yet from the NHL which means no real start date from the AHL and even the ECHL hasn’t yet released their schedule.
    • Basketball? In the same boat, with Adam Silver recently saying they may not start until February or March so they can have fans in the stands.
    • Group of 5 and mid-major college football?  Most if not all have been postponed until spring and maybe even the fall of 2021.
    • Minor League Baseball might seem safe with a start date next April, but they still don’t even know which teams will be in existence with proposed contraction.

    What does it mean for you, the sports executive trying to make sense of it all?  It means you have to fight through the clutter, and, do more with less because no owner is going to want to commit tens of thousands of dollars amid such uncertainty.


    This summer, the Macon Bacon saw ticket sales success in two areas, ticket packages to Joe Fan (where we matched our 2019 sales, even though we lost ten weeks of marketing during the shutdown)  And - once we could get the group leader on the phone - old-school, handle some individual group orders by phone, group sales.

    To help you accomplish the same successes, we’ve created two new online programs:

    • Digital Ticket Sales Superstar.  We’ll walk you through exactly how we dramatically increased our social and digital following and generated nearly 1,500 ticket package sales with a budget of less than $10,000. 

    Join us for a webinar on it tomorrow, September 1 at 1pm Eastern by clicking here

    • Group Sales Superstar 3.0.  We’ve completely revamped our original online group sales training program with eight new modules and new video feedback.  However, the price is still the same at $297/person.

    Both of these programs can help you sell boatloads more tickets in such an unusual time.  And, they are extremely affordable with payment plans available.  Do more with less and make yourself that first ballot sports executive Hall of Famer.

    If you have questions, feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

  • 24 Aug 2020 6:12 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Use your sales staff’s time wisely right now and it will pay huge dividends

    It seems like the movie Groundhog Day.

    You remember the movie where Bill Murray wakes up and keeps repeating the same day over and over.

    Only this time, it’s sports teams and it’s repeating what was happening in March and April.

    With various college football conferences postponing the start of their season and Adam Silver coming out publicly saying the NBA may not start until February or March, teams have to wonder, “What do I do now with my salespeople?

    Thankfully, some teams are using their time wisely and effectively.  I’ve heard it from a Director of Group Sales a an NBA team and the Director of Sales for a Group of Five college who have seen their seasons pushed back.

    “That’s okay.  We’ll have the best group sales prospect database in the country whenever we’ll be able to play again.”

    Both are dead on right.  Their sales staffs are using this time to build up contacts, have conversations about group goals and objectives and when the time comes and the schedule is public, they will be ready to rip. 

    No more, “Checking in to see how you are…” conversations with season ticket holders.  How are they?  They want to get out and do something.  That’s how they are.

    I also heard it from the Director of Marketing for an ECHL team.

    “I’ve added nearly 5,000 followers to our social media and almost as many email addresses.  We’re gonna kill it on ticket packages when we have a schedule.”

    If your sales team is doing the proverbial, “What do we do now?” blank stare, turn them loose with our new Group Sales Superstar 3.0 online training program.  Sure, it may seem scary to spend any money right now but if your staff is already on the payroll, you have to make sure they are productive.

    Likewise, your Marketing Director can have the same proven results with our Digital Ticket Sales class and build your social following, email database and ticket package sales, even without a schedule.

    Check out both programs and our new B2B Tix Superstar online training program by going to courses.theultimatetoolkit.com and you’ll have the best database in the country as well.

    If I can help you in any way, call me at 702-493-2661 or shoot me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com 

  • 18 Aug 2020 6:32 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Our newest online training classes are now priced exactly right for

    sport management programs to prepare their students.

    There are no excuses for a sport management program that fails to prepare their students with the proper ticket sales knowledge and training to get jobs in sports.

    If those programs fiddle around and don’t teach their students about ticket sales and how to sell tickets, it’s their own fault their kids will be unprepared and not get jobs upon graduation.

    I say that because we’ve now taken both our completely revamped Group Sales Superstar online training program and our brand new B2B Tix Superstar online training program and made them very, very affordable for college sport management programs and their students.  Students can take the class for as little as $20/student and have it built right into this or next  semester’s syllabus.  Click here to see exactly how it works.

    The coronavirus pandemic has made on-line training a must-have for teams and online classes a virtual necessity for sports management programs.  Group Sales Superstar and B2B Tix Superstar accomplish both. 

    Not only am I an owner of a sports team looking for qualified salespeople and interns, I’m also a professor teaching classes in ticket sales.  If you want to know how good a student can be after taking this class, check out my student from last semester, Nezzie Miranda and her group sales video.

    If you’re a team looking for salespeople or interns, take this program to your local sports management program and offer to help pay for it.  It will be well worth it to have new recruits already trained. 

    If you’re a professor and want your students to go to the top of the list as soon as teams start hiring salespeople again, give me a call for a demo and I’ll walk you through exactly how this program works and how it can make your students the budding stars of the industry.  I’ll share my syllabus and strategy and let’s create the next generation of ticket sales superstars.

    Give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com and I’m happy to schedule a demo for you and your school.

  • 11 Aug 2020 5:23 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    There is no magic phrase your salespeople can say to change your fans’ minds if they think this

    I couldn’t change his mind. 

    Nor did I really want to.

    I had just come back from a trip to Las Vegas (and a four hour plane flight) and was talking to a friend about the safety of flying on an airline during the coronavirus.  He swore he wasn’t getting on a plane until there was a vaccine.

    I explained:

    • Passengers are asked many questions before even getting a boarding pass.  Could they lie about their health - sure but I think it’s safe to say that the population in general recognizes the magnitude of the coronavirus problem and would answer questions truthfully.
    • The airplanes are sprayed with sanitizer after every single flight.
    • Every passenger wears a mask the entire flight, no matter how uncomfortable.
    • There was no drink service - just the attendants, while wearing gloves and masks, handing out bags that had pretzels and a small water bottle.

    As far as I could tell, in multiple Google searches, there has been no known outbreak or cases related to anyone flying on a plane.

    He wasn’t convinced.  “Nope.  I’ll drive wherever I want to go.  If I can’t drive, I ain’t going.”

    No problem,” I said.  Better he feel safe then put himself in what he felt was an uncomfortable situation.


    It’s the same for fans concerned about coming to your games.  You can tell them over and over what you’ve done to make your games safe.  You can have the CDC bless your games.  You can have everyone walking around in a plastic bubble.  But, if they don’t believe it, there is no magic words or rebuttal that will change their minds.

    So, don’t worry about convincing them to come to your games.

    At The Ultimate Toolkit, we’ve recently launched two new online programs for teams to help sell tickets.  Our online training for group sales and B2B ticket sales are a tremendous resource for teams who don’t want to bring all of their salespeople together in a crowded conference room for two days with on-site sales training.  You can see them at https://courses.theultimatetoolkit.com/

    Ironically, team execs keep asking me the same wrong question.  “Do they help my salespeople convince fans to come to games during coronavirus?”  I answer unequivocally, “No.”  There is no magic bullet or secret phrase that convinces fans that your games are safe.  The fan is either in or they are out.

    I keep telling those execs they are asking the wrong question.  The question should be:

    “Do your online sales training programs help my salespeople learn what’s necessary to succeed selling tickets during coronavirus?”

    The answer to that question is unequivocally, “Yes.”

    Your salespeople, whether you’ve hired them brand-new in the last few weeks or brought them back after months of furlough or layoffs, need these techniques and refreshers to succeed moving forward. 

    Don’t get bogged down in worrying about how to sell tickets to people who are concerned about safety in the coronavirus world.  You just can’t change their minds.  Get your salespeople focused on how to sell tickets to people who are interested in coming to your games in the coronavirus world.

    If I can help with a demo or answer questions, please give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

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