Ready…set…group sales

08 Jun 2020 7:00 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

The caller was more frustrated than he was panicked.  He was Director of Ticket Sales for a minor league team.

“Ownership just came back with our budget for next season,” he said.  “They want a 70% increase in group sales.  That’s impossible!”

“Is it?” I asked.  “Are you 100% sure that if you called on every single group prospect in your market and get a reasonable conversion rate that you couldn’t get a 70% increase?”

There was a long pause.  I could almost hear his brain working.  It was as if he called merely to have me commiserate with him and I let him down.  Finally, he spoke up again.

“What do you suggest?” he said grudgingly.

He had already done the group audit, determining how many groups in each major group category had come to a game last year.  I asked him to calculate a couple more things:

  • What was the average number of tickets for each group in each category?
  • What was the average ticket price for each category?  Businesses would of course likely have a higher average ticket price than schools or church youth groups.

“That’s easy,” he said.  I’ll just plug a couple formulas into my spreadsheet.

Then, I told him to reach out to a list broker, someone like Ron Contorno at Full House, and ask for the total number of group prospects in his market.  Taking the total number and subtracting those that came out last year would give him the remaining possible groups in each category.

When he had that done, I simply told him to look at the remaining possible groups in each category and estimate how many more he thought he could get.  I told him to be reasonable, not some pie-in-the-sky projection.

Then, multiply those likely new groups times the average number of tickets from their category and the average ticket price.  Lo and behold, he had what his growth possibilities were for the next season.  He got to within about $20,000 of where his bosses wanted him to be.  We tweaked a few estimates and group renewal percentages in certain categories and he got to their budget request.

The plan was aggressive but he got there all without creating some crazy, wacky, labor intensive theme nights that take a ton of work with no real sense of whether they will work.  (Anyone having to toss Nursing Home Night, or (insert nationality) Night and other crazy ideas that never sell more than 100 tickets?)

Now, I told him there are some keys for making this process work:

  • He has to assign a specific salesperson to each of the growth categories.  And, they have to work those categories all year long.  This effort won’t work if your sales staff starts searching for new groups only a few months before the season starts after they’ve scoured the market for months trying to selling season tickets.
  • Management of those salespeople becomes critical.  Sales Managers should be meeting weekly with salespeople to review progress on calls to those specific group categories, new group leaders reached and new groups into the pipeline.
  • Tracking data moving forward allows you to compare year over year progress and truly find out which categories move the needle for you.

It’s not easy to see big growth but it’s doable.  More than ever, with a challenging economy and the slow re-opening of our local economies, you’re going to need a detailed, granular plan to be successful increasing ticket sales.  Doing the same thing you’ve been doing is not going to be sufficient to get the growth you need.

If you want to talk further about how to put together your detailed group sales budget, give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at

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