Log in


Log in

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.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 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:


    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

  • 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


  • 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

  • 29 Sep 2019 11:21 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    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?”

    I nod. 

    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.


    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.


    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?

    Could you…

    • ·       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.

  • 18 Sep 2019 11:22 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Is cutting in line fair?  Well, let’s put it this way: cutting in line is opportunistic.  You get the job with the team you want. 

    If you read the rest of this article, I will tell you how to get that job in sports. 

    But, let me ask you a question.  I’m curious about your response.  I asked this very same question to a sports management class on their first day of the semester.  Let me tell you, only one person raised their hand when I asked the question.  She was even a bit embarrassed.

    Here’s the question I had asked:  “How many of you want to get a job in ticket sales?”

    When I asked the lone student who raised her hand why, she said simply, “I know it’s the best way to get a job in sports.”  It turns out she had done an internship the previous summer with the the NBA team in her hometown and saw that the team had nearly 40 ticket salespeople. They had three in marketing and two in public relations.  She was smart enough to realize that the odds were in her favor if she learned tickets.

    When I pressed the other students in class about why they didn’t want to go in to ticket sales, the answers were pretty consistent.  “I don’t know anything about ticket sales.” Or “Sales scares me.” Or “Sales? Yuk!”  or something like that.

    After talking about ticket sales for a while and how it has become the best stepping stone to get hired by a teama, the students’ demeanor started to change.  They realized ticket sales wasn’t a life-long job; it was a gateway to other important jobs with a team.  They became more enthusiastic.


    I then told them their University had done them a huge favor by using The Ultimate Toolkit to teach their class in ticket sales.  You see, there aremore than 160 teams using The Ultimate Toolkit, and they are continually looking to to hire salespeople who have already learned the sales techniques in The Ultimate Toolkit before they get to the team. 

    Let me repeat that:

    There are more than 160 teams continually looking to hire salespeople that have learned The Ultimate Toolkit principles and tactics.  Heck, a lot of these teams are desperate to hire a student of The Ultimate Toolkit,

    Just by taking the class and completing the sales training videos, these students were going to cut to the head of the line for any future job opportunities. 

    Not only do the students learn sales techniques and marketing strategy, we post their resumes and sales videos of the students on our website, so our teams can easily find them.  The Ultimate Toolkit graduates are not competing with thousands of other candidates on a Teamworkonline posting.  These students in effect cut to the front of the line for any job openings our 160 teams have.  Just by successfully completing the class and their videos.  Talk about an unfair advantage.


    That advantage has caused a bit of a problem.  We don’t have enough qualified salespeople to fill the jobs our teams have available.

    To solve that problem, we’ve launched The Ultimate Toolkit Online Ticket Sales Boot Camp in conjunction with the University of Iowa.  Anyone taking the Ultimate Toolkit Online Ticket Sales Boot Camp will learn the exact same stuff students taking it in class will learn.  You’ll learn the sales techniques that our teams are looking to hire for.  Just click here for more information.

    There are three types of people who should take this online class:

    • 1.     You’re not in sports right now.   The Ultimate Toolkit Online Ticket Sales Boot Camp is a huge plus for anyone outside of the sports world interested in getting a job in sports.   You need specific ticket sales skills for sports teams and you’ll learn those skills with us..  The training you’ll get in this class and the videos you produce of yourself will show teams that you can sell.
    • 2.     Sports management students.  Students in a sport management program know that there usually aren’t classes about ticket sales.  Sports Law and Sport Finance and the Essence of Sport were probably interesting but those classes don’t compel teams to grab you.  Having the skills from The Ultimate Toolkit Boot Camp will make teams want to interview you.
    • 3.     You’re already with a sports team.   Someone who already works for a sports team in sales or some other position that wants to dramatically improve their chances of career growth.  You’ll learn more in this eight week class then you’d learn at your existing team in a year.

    Anyone who completes The Ultimate Toolkit Online Ticket Sales Boot Camp will have their resume and video posted on our website for our teams to view.  I will also personally send emails out to our teams letting them know those videos and resumes are posted.  It’s the quickest way to cut to the front of the line to get a job in sports. 

    So, let me answer for you a variation of that first question.  Your answer is ‘Yes.’

    The questions is“Do you want a special advantage to get a job with a sports team that you want to work for?”  

    To get that special advantage, click here:


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 

Call Steve at 702-493-2661

18716 Nautical Drive, Unit #6

Cornelius, NC 28031

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software