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?”
You say, “And you tell me I can increase my new business by my salespeople using your tickets?”
I nod again.
You say, “Explain that again.”
I ask you a question: “When your salesperson takes a new prospect out to lunch, what makes that memorable?”
“Well, it would be a nice restaurant,” you say.
“That same prospect may go to a nice restaurant every day that week with your competitors,” I say. “What makes your salesperson’s lunch more memorable than your competitors’?”
You nod. You realize lunches isn’t the way to a memorable experience.
“Golf?” I ask. “Do your salespeople invite prospects to play golf?
You answer, “No, but I’ve thought about it. Except I played golf with two of my salespeople and they were idiots. It wasn’t fun at all. I can’t imagine them with prospects. And besides, you gotta play private courses or really expensive resort courses—you just can’t take a prospect out to some dog track.”
“By the way,” I say, “have you ever been to one of our games?”
You say, “Yes, a couple of years ago. I went with my kids.”
“How old are your kids?”
“Eleven and thirteen. Both boys,” you say.
I say, “How would they like to go to a game, but come before the gates open and take in batting practice? They’d be on the field with all the players. It’s a great time to take photos and get a bunch of autographs.” (This, of course, would change depending on the sport.)
You say, “You can do that? That would be fabulous.”
I say, “We could also take a tour of places few fans ever see like the locker room, the video room, the indoor batting cage, the offices.
You say, “That sounds terrific.”
I say, “Well, that’s what I propose your salespeople do with new prospects. You’re my new prospect and you got excited about going to one of my games. Your salespeople can do the same thing with their prospects. Three hours of bonding at a game is far better than 45-minute lunch. And besides, if I would have asked you to lunch, you would have yawned. .”
You laugh and say, “Okay, you got me. I’ll buy four season tickets. But, get your calendar out. Which game can we go to?”
Relationships may be important for your corporate prospect but why your games and not a fancy steakhouse??
Last week, I went to a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for the first time ever. I was celebrating a birthday with a good friend of mine and had been holding on to a gift card we figured it was a good way to live it up.. .
“No limits,” I said when we walked in. “Order whatever you want. Drink whatever you want. It’s your birthday.” Heck, I figured the gift card was substantial enough that I’d barely spend much more. We ate and drank and enjoyed ourselves. When the bill came, my first thought was “good thing for that gift card.”
Sure Ruth’s Chris was tasty and we had fun but it wasn’t so memorable that I’m clamoring to go back (and pay full price for the bill at that). We could celebrate my friend’s birthday next year at Old Chicago playing Golden Tee and video trivia and probably have as much fun and pay 1/3 as much.
YOUR GAME OR THE STEAKHOUSE?
Those companies may have even thought about using your team’s tickets. They most likely haven’t bought because nobody has shown them why your games are better than steak dinners or hunting trips. That’s where you come in as a salesperson.
“YES, I BELIEVE YOUR GAMES ARE A GOOD PLACE TO DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS”
Once someone tells you relationships are important in their business, it’s your job to convince the prospect your games are where they should develop those relationships. How do you do it?
You can’t just tell a prospect, “Bring your clients out to our baseball (or hockey, or basketball or football) game and spend 2-3 hours with them. Wouldn’t that be great.”
Now, if you have Steph Curry or LeBron James or Cam Newton or your team is regularly contending for a title, you may not need much else. If you’re a minor league team in a major league market or even a downtrodden major league team, you have use stories, pictures and anecdotes to convince your prospect your games are the place to be. That means selling the sizzle.
Selling the sizzle means explaining why your games are more than just going to a game. What else could you do as a salesperson to make the games special and memorable to your prospect’s clients and employees?
- · Meet the client before the doors open to the rest of the crowd gets in and take the client down to the field or courtside to watch batting practice or warmups?
- · Stop by their seats during the game and drop off a few hats or other team premium items (empty out the storage cage of stuff you gave away last season.)
- · Have them shoot a few free throws right after the game on the court or throw out the first pitch?
- · Take them on a behind the scenes tour to places in the stadium that the general public can’t see?
How do you create memorable experiences for your ticket buying client’s client or prospect or employee to show them that buying tickets is more than just coming to a game? This is the perfect place to bust out the testimonial letters or emails or videos of your existing clients benefiting from these extras. Tell stories and show pictures of fans interacting with the players or down courtside or right behind the players on the bench.
Your games are a terrific place to build relationships. You just have to show examples of how it’s worked.
Next week, we’ll discuss making those stories concrete, descriptive and visual.