Building Your Sellout Matrix

06 Jan 2020 8:01 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

Your bosses have grudgingly nodded. 

They’ve agreed to forget about the crummy weeknight games and go for sellouts.  Eureka! 

“Just tell us your plan,” they said.  You could cut the skepticism with a knife.

You walk out of the meeting on Cloud 9.  But then, reality slaps you in the face.  “How do I put a plan together that will work?  A plan that everyone can grab on to?” you think to yourself in a momentary panic.

That’s what this column is about.  The first step to selling out is to put together a plan.  That plan starts with what I call your “Sellout Matrix”.  Don’t worry.  It’s not scary, as long as you can do basic Excel.  We’ll even give you a sample Sellout Matrix to download and tweak to make your own.

Here are the steps to take to build your team’s Sellout Matrix:

1.      Determine your Sellout Capacity.  What I mean by this is at what number will you stop selling tickets?  Sounds crazy to ask you this, doesn’t it?  Not really.  I deal with a boatload of teams who will sell standing room only and jam people in – bathroom and concessions lines be damned!  Or, they’ll raise the curtain on the upper deck in their arena to sell a handful more seats.  “We’ll take their money,” may seem like a good strategy in the short-term.  But, in the long-term, it means nobody will ever have to buy in advance if there are always tickets available.

2.      Review last year’s attendance.  How many games did you sell out last year?  How many did you have 80% capacity?  Add those two numbers together and that should be your sellout target for this season.  Didn’t sell out a game last year?  Shoot for just one to start with…or maybe two.  You’ll be shocked how the market and media will respond when you turn people away and announce a sellout.

3.      Identify your big games.  This could be big-time stars coming in like LeBron or rivals like Red Sox vs. Yankees.  Or, if you’re in the minor leagues, it could be a big Friday or Saturday night, a special holiday like July 4th or the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

4.      Plug in your best entertainment.  For baseball, this could be fireworks or zany guest mascots like the Zooperstars.  In hockey, it could be Marvel Comic Night, Nickelodeon Night or something unique like Teddy Bear Toss or Green Ice Night.  Put these big theme nights on the games you identified in #3 above.

5.      Do the math to get a sellout.  This is where the Sellout Matrix spreadsheet comes in.  You’ll have to add up how many full season, partial plans, groups and single game tickets you think you can sell for each targeted sellout.  Download a Sellout Matrix by clicking here.

A word of caution here.  When you’re predicting group and single game sales for your targeted sellouts, don’t be too crazy.  For example, if you need 5,000 group tickets to get a sellout and the best you’ve ever done in groups for a game is 2,500, you can’t just write down 5,000.  You may have to consolidate group initiatives and single game promotions to blow out one key game.

Now, you have to stick your neck out.  Show your Sellout Matrix to your bosses.  You’re basically saying, “Here’s what I believe we’re gonna do to sell out.”  Have confidence.  As you read this column over the coming months, you’ll learn the steps to accomplish these numbers. 


Building a Sellout Matrix isn’t just a ‘do it once’ and you’re done.  Once you set out your initial projections, you have to review them on a weekly basis with each salesperson on your team and your ticket operations person.  This way, you can gauge progress, adjust where needed and review again.  There should be no surprises about the crowd size when game day rolls around.

Share your progress with your bosses.  They’ll become your biggest cheerleaders to help as long as you communicate with them.

If you have questions or problems building your Sellout Matrix, feel free to send me an email at  I’ll be happy to answer them.

NEXT COLUMN:  The Sellout Matrix is the first step to selling out. The next step is creating ticket products your fans actually want to buy to hit your targeted sellout numbers.  We’ll cover that on January 20th in our next column.

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