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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.

Click here to view the article.

  • 10 Jan 2020 10:31 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    I’m proud to not only call Jon Spoelstra my co-author of The Ultimate Toolkit but also a friend and mentor.  He has been a mentor to hundreds of sports executives throughout the industry and been a master innovator throughout his career.  Being chosen as a Sports Business Journal Champion of 2020 is well deserved.  We look forward to the big story in the coming weeks.

    The article below ran in the Sports Business Journal on January 6 in Abe Madkour’s column.

    Forum: Remembering Stern; and announcing our Champions of 2020

    JON SPOELSTRADavid Stern effectively advocated for Spoelstra, whose innovative style delivered at every stop, whether it was leading the Portland Trail Blazers to more than a decade of consecutive sellouts or transforming the former New Jersey Nets from a moribund franchise into one of the NBA’s sales leaders. He also flourished for more than a decade at Mandalay Baseball Properties. Over his career, he served as a mentor to a number of sports executives who sit in leadership positions today.

    To read the full article, click here.

  • 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 stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.  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.

  • 16 Dec 2019 6:18 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    I heard them loud and clear.

    After my last column about only focusing on your biggest and best games to get sold out, the Naysayers came out of the woodwork.  It was as if they could smell blood.

    That’s okay.  I’ve heard them for years.  You’ll heard them also if you take my advice and focus on selling out your best games first.

    Naysayers are so boring; they always complain about the same thing and they’re always wrong. Your naysayer could be your boss or the administrative assistant or the team owner or your neighbor or almost anybody who hasn’t successfully marketed tickets before.  Here’s what you most likely are hearing:

    Naysayer:“We need to run some promotions for those crummy weekday games against no-name opponents just to make it look better.”

    My response: “There are several things wrong about promoting a crummy weekday game.  Number one, it takes you away from your mission of focusing on just increasing the number of sellouts.  Doing a promotion for a crummy game will get minimal results, will cost valuable marketing dollars, will take time and energy and, unfortunately, you’re always disappointed with the results.

    “Lastly, what promotion would you use?  2-for-1s?  50% off?  Free bobblehead to the first 1,000 fans?  Thirsty Thursdays?  Whatever you try, it will have a minimal effect.  200 seats sold?  Maybe 300 seats sold?  Heck, Thirsty Thursdays at most only bring in several hundred drunks.  Are three hundred drunks for one game worth it?  Of course not.”

    “Focus on the games where you have a chance of selling out if you put muscle and manpower behind it.”

    Naysayer:“It’ll look bad playing in front of a lot of empty seats.”

    My response: “Yeah, it will, but that’s just a temporary situation.  You will be selling out those crummy weekday games in about three years because you’re increasing your sellouts every year and eventually you reach those crummy weekday games. One consolation about those empty seats:  If nobody goes to the game, nobody knows that nobody went to the game.  Conversely, with a sellout, people talk about it the next day at work.”

    If nobody goes to the game, nobody knows that nobody went to the game.

    Naysayer: “Can’t we just dress up the stadium a bit by comping a thousand or more tickets to some charity?”

    My response: “Papering the house with free tickets really doesn’t work in your goal of creating more sellouts, and it proves to be counterproductive in reaching that goal but I’ll cover freebies in more depth in a future column.    This is what I told a group of owners of a team that had dismal attendance who hired me as a consultant.  ‘I’m going to give you a list of games that you can come to,’ I said. ‘You’ll feel great about the energy in the building.  It will please you that you own the team.’”

    “What about the games not on the list?’ one of the owners asked.  ‘I own the team, I can go to any game I want.”

    “I said, ‘For those games not on the list, it won’t be much fun.  There won’t be a lot of energy in the building.  You won’t feel good about owning the team.  You’ll think the community should provide more support. You’ll get depressed. You’ll want to gobble down a bunch of anti-depressants.  All that depression is temporary, but it is real for certain games this coming season.  It would be better if you scheduled a business trip when those games are played.”

    In case you’re wondering, I take some of my own medicine for my team in Macon, the Macon Bacon.  Even though we’ve sold out just about every Friday and Saturday games in our first two seasons, we still have some weak Monday and Tuesday night games.  I know going in the crowds aren’t going to be good.  My staff knows and I’m okay with that because I also know as we continue to build, those poor weekday games will eventually turn in to sellouts.

    Hang in there against the naysayers.  Send me an email or give me a call and I’ll act as your support group when the pressure mounts.


    One goal:  Increase the number of sold-out games.

    NEXT TOPIC:  How to build your Sellout Matrix – January 6

  • 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

  • 18 Nov 2019 6:01 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Most teams are lying to you about ticket sales.

    How can I make such an accusation?

    If ticket sales are truly the lifeblood of a team or athletic department, why do teams just pay lip service to it?  The ticket sales staff is the lowest paid.  They get stuck doing the grunt work like substituting for the receptionist, driving players to the airport or unloading boxes.  Heck, rarely does a team even have enough staff to come close to maximizing ticket revenue. 


    Sure, sponsorships are a big source of revenue.  But if nobody is going to the games, why would someone sponsor the team? 

    I once had a minor league owner tell me sponsorships were more important than ticket sales for his team.  I asked him what would happen to sponsorship revenue if nobody was going to his games (which, at the time, hardly anyone was going anyway).  He just stammered and blabbed something about his team had a losing record last year which is why attendance was so bad and it would eventually turn around.

    As an owner of my own team, - the Macon Bacon – I don’t pay attention to wins and losses.  My manager might hate me for saying this but I don’t really care if we win.  I care if the fans have a good time and are entertained.  (Our entertainment budget is more than our team travel, equipment and salaries budget).  I care if the beer is colder than the hot dogs.

    What about the TV money?  Sure, it’s big for an NBA or NHL or MLB team.  However, if nobody is going to the games, eventually, those TV ratings are going to go down the tubes and those big rights fees will float away.  Attendance matters in the long-run – even for TV rights fees.  There is no Twitter feed called @lowsportsTVratings.  But, there is a Twitter feed called @EmptySeatspics.


    Sure, if you’re a college and hire a big shot coach, you’ll see a spike in ticket sales.  However, it won’t last forever if your school doesn’t start winning big.  Heck, Notre Dame - still ranked in the top 15 - just had their sellout string end. 

    If you’re an NBA team and sign LeBron or Kawhi Leonard, your ticket sales will most definitely spike but there is only one LeBron and one Kawhi.  And, neither are playing minor league baseball or minor league hockey.

    If you’re a Sales Manager and not getting the respect you deserve, put together a plan.

    You’ll have to work at ticket sales.  There are five key steps I focus on with all my consulting clients and our Ultimate Toolkit teams:

    1.      Build a sellout strategy.

    2.      Develop ticket products your fans want to buy, not just products you want to sell.

    3.      Create a marketing and sales strategy to sell those products to their target audiences.

    4.      Hire, train and manage a sales staff to maximize that strategy

    5.      Keep track of everything so you know what’s working and what’s not working.

    Over the coming months, we’ll spell out each step in detail in this blog.  Check back every two weeks to learn the Secrets of The Ultimate Toolkit

    You can also follow me on Twitter @SteveDeLay2 or on LinkedIn to get the notice of new blogs.  Or, just give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.  I look forward to sharing the secrets.

    NEXT TOPIC ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 2 – Why sellouts matter

  • 12 Nov 2019 4:37 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    I get a lot of calls and emails about ticket sales and sponsorship sales.  

    After all, I’ve been part of teams that have sold out more than 1,400 games in my career and sold some of the biggest sponsorships in the country.

    That’s part of the reason why - with Jon Spoelstra - we wrote The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House.  We followed it up with The Ultimate Toolkit – Sponsorships after getting even more questions about how we were so successful selling big ticket sponsorships.  Between the two of us, we have nearly 70 years of experience - selling out games, consulting with teams wanting to increase ticket and sponsorship revenue and training wildly successful ticket salespeople who have gone on to tremendous careers in the industry.


    With The Ultimate Toolkits, we wanted to answer all the questions we were getting from teams and schools about ticket and sponsorship sales strategy, tactics and training.  If you are a Toolkit team, you have all of our secrets and free access to me at any time.  Our goal has always been to teach you and your staff how to do it, not do it for you.

    In just five years, there are nearly 300 professional teams and college athletic departments using The Ultimate Toolkits, with tremendous success increasing revenue. 

    Even with The Ultimate Toolkits, the questions keep coming.  

    That’s why I’ve decided to take two giant leaps to help teams and Athletic Departments:

    1. Bi-weekly blog.  I’m launching a bi-weekly blog – The Ultimate Toolkit Secrets Revealed.  In this blog, I’ll cover chapter by chapter, workbook by workbook, the secrets of The Ultimate Toolkits.  I’ll also include new information, tools and material I’ve added since we wrote The Ultimate Toolkits.  Tools I use regularly in working with consulting clients. 

    2. We’ll help you do it.  We’ve also expanded our services within The Ultimate Toolkit company to include a wealth of new ways we can help.  However, even with expanded services, we still want to teach you how to do it in the long-run so you don’t always need us.  Search around www.theultimatetoolkit.com and you’ll see all the new ways we can help you boost revenues.

    The Ultimate Toolkit Secrets Revealed may not answer every question you have about tickets or sponsorships, but it will get you pointed in the right direction.  If you feel you need more, we can customize a unique solution for you 


    Office/cell 702-493-2661 

    NEXT BLOG SUBJECT – November 18:  Why ticket sales matter – It’s not as obvious as you’d think.

  • 15 Oct 2019 11:15 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    On July 31st, The Athletic ran an article about how college athletics is looking to improve in ticket sales.  They reached out to me to talk about the subject. Here is a snippet of where I thought colleges had room to grow:

    By: Nicole Auerbach

    The Athletic

    “Even at a major Power Five school … what they tend to do is say, ‘Jeez, I’m just going to go hire the next hotshot coach and keep my fingers crossed that that’s going to get everybody excited, and they’re going to turn around and go buy season tickets,” said Steve DeLay, who along with his business partner Jon Spoelstra revolutionized how tickets are marketed and sold in the NBA. “It doesn’t work anymore. Nowadays it’s yes, the hot shot coach might help. But there’s a little bit of a ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ mentality. So you’ve got to do all of it. You’ve got to aggressively market. That’s email marketing and digital marketing retargeting. You’ve got to track it all to know, if I’m spending one dollar, am I getting five dollars back in revenue? Schools are slowly catching up to where the professional sports realm was 20 years ago.

    “They’re realizing now that they need to hire and train salespeople. They need to actually create group ticket products and smaller ticket packages — five-game plans, seven-game plans, especially for basketball. And they’ve got to drive sellouts. … It’s like colleges have woken up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, ticket sales are the lifeblood of our athletics. We need to put time, energy and effort into it.’”

    Sellouts are particularly important. As DeLay puts it, the best sporting event you have ever been to was probably a sellout. That’s probably why you enjoyed it so much: You wanted to be there, everybody wanted to be there, and the atmosphere was electric because of it. Maybe it even convinced you to come back for another game. Small ticket packages, DeLay said, should not just include the least appealing games on a team’s schedule. They should include the best games, the ones that should become sellouts. This is where creative marketing comes in.

    DeLay estimates that about 50 colleges have purchased The Ultimate Toolkit, a five-part program he and Spoelstra developed that promises to dramatically increase ticket sales. DeLay has consulted directly with about a dozen of those schools, including UNLV.

    One creative marketing scheme UNLV used last season was an Eat All You Can Plan, which was paired with a multi-game ticket package. Instead of trying to market tickets as discounted, UNLV simply sold full-price tickets with unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and soda. Fans felt it was a worthwhile value proposition: UNLV sold about 400 three-game packs for football and a similar amount of five-game basketball packs.

    DeLay recommends targeting specific consumer groups — hardcore fans, social fans, etc. — and creating specific strategies for each. Email marketing and digital retargeting (with ads that show up after potential customers have visited your sales site) have made that process easier by providing organizations with a more accurate return on investment for each campaign. The effects of a billboard or an ad read on a radio show on revenue are not as easily measured.

    To do all of that effectively, university athletic departments need to hire, train and expand their sales and marketing staffs to understand how to think creatively, market aggressively and track behavior closely. “Tickets don’t sell themselves unless you go to the Sweet 16 or something like that,” DeLay said. “If you’re going to sit back and rely on that, you’re living in a fantasyland.”

    Schools often say they can’t use salespeople because they can’t pay them commission, but DeLay said there are ways to get approval to do so, much like coaches get bonuses tied to performance. (He’s worked with schools that have done this.) Alternatively, athletic departments could hire and train students to do the work without earning commission. (He’s also worked with schools that have done this.)

    Marketing strategies and stadium amenities are just pieces of the response to declining college football attendance, but they’re significant pieces. And they can be improved even as game-related factors like quality of opponent or kickoff time fluctuate.

    It all boils down to something much more complex than simply squeezing tens of thousands of people into concrete coliseums. It’s not simply about the capacity. It’s not simply about the cost. And it’s definitely not just about the access to Wi-Fi.

    To view the full article, click here.

  • 08 Oct 2019 11:18 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    If you’re a ticket sales manager, which one of your salespeople is a potential Steph Curry? 

    Whoa!  What type of crazy point am I trying to make?  A Steph Curry in your midst?  Working for you?  Hah!

    Well, your salespeople are probably developing their craft, just like Steph once did years ago.  How did that early development go for Steph?  Here’s Steph describing himself in his early stage of building his skills:  “All summer when I was at camps people were like, 'Who are you, why are you playing basketball?' I was really that bad… [before] I finally figured it out."

    You see, Steph had to re-teach himself on how to shoot to adapt to bigger, better players.  His dad helped him change his shooting form.  Yep, he had to re-learn how to shoot.

    Maybe your salespeople are hearing similar things that Steph heard, “Who are you, why are you even trying to sell tickets?”  If so, they’ll probably leave your team to work in the real world and you’re back to hiring the next candidate to leave.  That’s not very productive for your own career having a swift carousel of ticket sales people.

    Instead of them leaving your team, how can you help them get better, and enhance your career in the process? 

    In Steph Curry’s case, his father helped him change his shooting form.  With your salespeople, who’s going to change their ‘shooting form?’  Who?  Who?  Who?

    • 1.      A sales trainer brought in for a couple of days ain’t enough.   Yeah, bringing in a sales trainer is a nice gesture, but it isn’t career changing.  Two days doesn’t change a life; your salespeople need continuity.
    • 2.     You.  You’re the best candidate to rapidly improve your salespeople.  The question isn’t know-how (see point #3 below), it’s commitment.   Are you committed to dramatically improve each of your salespeople?  Are you committed to provide the guidance for a potential Steph Curry in ticket sales?
    • 3.     Training know-howThe Ultimate Toolkit has all the ticket sales training know-how that you’ll need.  And, it’s proven stuff.  It’s the same material that we used to train our sales staffs while I was with the New Jersey Nets and at Mandalay Baseball Properties.   Take a look at the tools that you’ll have at your disposal:  http://theultimatetoolkit.com/Ticket-Sales-Training.


    You’ve heard that ‘practice makes perfect.’  Nope.  That’s not the case.  Perfect practice makes perfect Imagine if Steph Curry had to figure out on his own how to shoot and dribble better.  Being incredibly competitive, he probably would have been really good.  But, the best player in the NBA?  I don’t think so.  His coaching provided perfect practice makes perfect

    To learn more about the tools and strategies necessary to create more ticket sales, check out the other pages on this website or email me at stevedelay@earthlink.net.

  • 01 Oct 2019 11:19 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    I didn’t think this was going to be a difficult question.  Or be embarrassing for those that answered.

    The question was asked to VP-Ticket Sales teams from three teams in three different leagues.  One thing these teams had in common was that each had told me that they wanted to dramatically ramp up ticket sales to corporations.

    With that in mind I asked, “How do you now make sure your sales staff is calling on every single qualified company in your market?”

    Since we were on the phone, I couldn’t see their faces.  However, with the sudden blankness on the phone I imagined that thousand mile stare. 

    One VP of Sales hemmed and hawed then said, “We have our analytics department give us leads then we just distribute them out to our salespeople.”

    Another VP Sales said, “We let our sales staff prospect on their own.”

    From their answers, I could tell their sales staff isn’t calling on every single qualified company in their market.  Heck, they didn’t even know who their salespeople were calling on.  That came out in the next question.

    “What percent of the companies in your market that have 20+ employees and are non-retail do you think you’ve called on?” I asked.

    “Maybe 20%,” one VP-Tickets said.

    Another VP-Tickets was blunter, saying, “I have no idea.”

    All three referred back to analytics.  Now don’t get me wrong here—I’m a huge analytics fan.  However, the one major problem I have found is that analytics doesn’t qualify enough real business prospects to feed a sales staff.  I’ve got a simple way to supplement analytics.


    You want to have a system for your sales staff to cover every single business in your market.

    One of the first steps in creating that system is to set up geographic territories.  You know, all the corporations in this zip code go to this salesperson; all the corporations in that zip code go to that salesperson. 

    Setting up geographic territories does three key things:

    1.  Makes sure every business is covered.  There is no way a lead list can be complete.  Businesses move in and out.  Top executives change.  The salesperson ‘owns’ their territory and will become familiar with every company.  They can canvas companies in their territory they haven’t been able to reach on the phone.  They can network at business events within their territory.

    2.  No driving for dollars.  With a geographic territory, a salesperson can be more efficient.  Schedule a meeting at 9am?  Call other companies on the same street or the same zip code to schedule a meeting at 10am and 11am.  No driving back and forth across town wasting time in the car when a salesperson could be making sales calls.  (This is hugely important for teams like the three VPs I mentioned earlier who are in markets with rugged traffic)

    3.  Salespeople are actually selling.  Salespeople shouldn’t be spending time shuffling around for leads.  Salespeople should be selling.  My Rule of Thumb has always been one salesperson for every 1,000 businesses of 20+ employees, non-retail, non-government.  If each salesperson makes 12 appointments a week in their own territory, it would take more than two years for the salesperson to meet with every single company in their territory.  If you stretch to 10-19 employees in each territory, you’ll most likely double their lead list.

    You might think, ‘let’s give one salesperson all the law firms in town, or all the banks.’  They’d then become an ‘expert’ in selling to that industry.  That sounds wonderful but the salesperson would still be crisscrossing all over town.  And, let’s face it.  The fundamental reasons a business would buy and use tickets are the same regardless of the industry.

    Geographic territories is just a small tool to use in calling on every corporation in your market.  You can learn more about the strategy to sell more corporations by going Part 2: Selling to Corporations on this website or by contacting me at stevedelay@earthlink.net.


  • 30 Sep 2019 11:20 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    That’s what the Director of Ticket Sales for a major college told me.

    He said, “We had no strategy, no plan, no direction in ticket sales.  We were just shooting blindly following the latest trends.  First it was text messaging.  Then it was analytics.  Then it was social selling.  They all sort of helped but none felt like a system.”

    “I was getting frustrated and down,” he continued.  “I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I didn’t even want to brush my teeth in the morning.  However, then we purchased The Ultimate Toolkit.  As I plowed through it, I got excited.  It was a system that we could easily adapt to our teams.  It made me want to get out of bed, brush my teeth and hurry in to work.”

    That system boils down to five key parts.

    • 1.     The Sellout Mentality.  Are you focused on selling out your biggest and best games and putting pressure on demand?  Or, are you trying to sell tickets for every game on your schedule, regardless of the day of the week or the opponent?  If you have less than 50% of your building’s seats sold on season tickets, you have virtually no chance to sell out every game.  Focus on your best games and get them sold out.  Next year you can expand the number of games targeted to sell out.
    • 2.     Sell ticket products the fans want to buy, not what your team wants to sell.  If I had it my way, I would make it federal law that people had to buy full season tickets.  Orphans, little old ladies, all of ‘em to buy season tickets. That, alas, is not the case.  People that actually need season tickets are a tiny fraction of our population.  For example, a small manufacturing business might not need season tickets, but could use an employee outing.  The employee outing could equal more tickets sold than four season tickets.  We believe a company has a need for tickets and it’s our job to figure out which type of ticket works for them.  We use Full Menu Marketing from day one.
    • 3.     Have the right marketing strategy to sell those products.  Good luck trying to sell season tickets with billboard ads or TV spots or direct mail.  Or, try to sell groups via email marketing.  No chance.  You have to have a specific proven strategy to market each product.  Unfortunately, winging it is not a proven strategy.
    • 4.     Train your salespeople.  You may think it’s enough to bring in a sales trainer for a couple days.  That may get a spike in sales, but then your sales tumble downwards.  We believe that a team has to have on-going, intensive weekly sales training. This isn’t just a weekly sales meeting.  We believe in one-on-one training including videotaping, going on sales calls and one on one meetings with each salesperson.  If your salespeople succeed, management succeeds.  This is why we have a major emphasis on self-training in The Ultimate Toolkit.
    • 5.     Track Everything.  Marketing dollars and sales staff dollars are hard to squeeze from ownership.  Don’t waste them.  They are going to want to know if their money is being spent wisely.  Track every dollar spent on ads to determine ROI.  If you can’t determine how much ticket revenue you generated because of an ad, mailing or email, don’t do it again.  Same with salespeople.  How many calls, connects, appointments, sales have they generated.  Are they paying for themselves?  How many times over?  By tracking marketing dollars you’re setting yourself to be able to get more marketing dollars because you can prove it’s working.

    Ticket sales don’t just happen.  You have to have a proven system.  I talk to teams every day who have big holes in their system.  They can’t figure out why sales aren’t going up.  Sometimes it’s a tweak, sometimes their system (or lack of one) needs a complete overhaul.

    When you do ticket sales right, it’s fun, really fun.  In fact, you’ll probably find that your teeth have never  been brighter.

    To learn more about ticket sales strategy, marketing and training systems, check out www.theultimatetoolkit.com.

Call Steve at 702-493-2661


18716 Nautical Drive, Unit #6

Cornelius, NC 28031

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