Why Sellouts Matter

27 Nov 2019 7:38 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

Ticket Sales Ground Rule #1:  The one goal is to increase the number of sold-out games.

Tell me the difference.

You go to two home basketball games of the same team.  They could be high school, college, or pro games.  You’re rooting for the home team, which has a record of a few more losses than victories.

The first game is against the best team in the league.  It’s completely sold out.  The home team has also dusted off its ticket printer and printed a slew of standing room tickets and those sold in a flash. 

At this sold-out game, outside the arena are a quirky combination of fans:

1. Fans with tickets. They’re walking briskly, bobbing and weaving through the crowd, animatedly talking about the upcoming game. They feel good; the anticipation of the game is adrenaline to even the weariest fans.  From outside the arena, they catch a scent of hot dogs grilling inside and it’s like the bell with Pavlov’s dog.

2. Fans without tickets. These fans are roaming the perimeter of the arena with a bounce in their gait, asking everybody they see if they have extra tickets.

3. Fans scalping tickets. The scalpers are out, waving a pair of pretty good seats while also keeping an eye out for the cops.

On the concourse in the arena, you jump into the concession line, hoping that the fans in front of you aren’t going to buy hot dogs and nachos for a small army.  You’re jostled from the side and, lo and behold, it’s a pal from where you used to work years ago.  This is like a party!

Inhaling your hot dogs as you find your seats, the home team’s starting lineup is announced.  You practically strangle yourself cheering and spewing hot dogs.

This is fun!  This is the way sporting events are meant to be!

Let’s now jump-cut to the other game a few days later.  This time, your team isn’t playing the best team in the league.  You’re playing the worst team.  And, it’s a Tuesday night.

You feel a little skittish as you walk to the arena from your car.  There’s nobody asking you if you have extra tickets.  There are no scalpers.  The pace of the few fans walking is different.  The speed may be the same, but there is no bounce to their step and the conversation you overhear isn’t about the game.  It’s about some jerk at work.

The people attending this game are obviously hard-core fans of the home team.  Or, you think, they’re probably some stiffs from the loading dock that received the company’s season tickets for the game.

            Which game did you have more fun at?

            You say, ‘What, are you kidding?’

            The answer is that obvious.

There is nothing like going to a sold-out sporting event.

The fans that attend a game that is sold out have more fun than the fan that attends a game where 50% of the seats are unsold.

Let’s follow this logic.  If the fan has more fun at a sellout, that fan is more likely to buy tickets to attend more games.  It’s human nature.  The more we like something, the more we want more of it.

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth re-stating:

Fans have more fun at a sold out-sporting event.  Because they had fun, they are much more likely to buy tickets to attend more games.

Your strongest marketing tool is sold-out games.

You should use all of your energies and your staff’s energies to increase the number of sold-out games. 

Usually your mandate would be to increase your average attendance.  That’s not your goal here!  Your goal is: increase the number of sold-out games.

(By the way, when you increase the number of sold-out games, you will increase total attendance.)


This concept is so different from almost every team, we need to pause for a moment and let this sink in:

There is but one goal for you and your staff:  Increase the NUMBER of sold-out games.  That’s it!  Your goal is to increase the NUMBER of sold-out games.

Don’t worry about the number of tickets sold for the season, worry about the NUMBER of sold-out games.

You should stay up nights thinking about how to get your next sellout.

Don’t worry about the less popular games; worry about games you have a chance to sell out.

If this redirection of energies comes at the expense of some of your lesser attractions, so be it.  I’m not saying spend less time in selling your lesser attractions; I’m saying spend no time selling your lesser attractions!  Focus all of your time on selling games that you have a chance of selling out.

Let me re-state this in two parts:

1.     Spend no time selling your lesser attractions!  No time!  Nada! Zilch!  Nyet!

2.     Focus all of your time on selling games that you have a chance of selling out.  All of your sales staff’s time too!

NEXT TOPIC – Monday, December 16:  The Naysayers demand a chance to rebut

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software