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Who are these guys anyway?

 

 

Jon Spoelstra                              Steve DeLay 

 

If you asked 100 sports execs to name the best ticket marketer, two names would be at the top of the list.  Those two names:  1) Jon Spoelstra, 2) Steve DeLay.  Any other names on the list would most likely be people that were trained by Spoelstra and DeLay.

You may have heard of Jon by reading one of his books.   Marketing Outrageously made the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. He also wrote Ice to Eskimos, which you may have studied in college.  But, long before he had written those books, he wrote three famous workbooks that teams around the globe coveted.  The workbooks, How to Sell the Last Seat in the House, were the principles of how to sell out sporting events.  It was fitting that Jon wrote those workbooks; Jon has sold out more sporting events than anybody ever.

Jon set records for consecutive sellouts when he was with the Portland Trail Blazers and developed ticket strategies that were copied not just around the NBA but around the world.  The sellouts continued when he was president of the New Jersey Nets and oversaw various minor league baseball teams.  1,446 sellouts total.  The only guy that comes close is Steve DeLay with 1,135 sellouts.  The only other people that could be considered close are former associates of Jon and Steve.   

Jon and Steve first met at the New Jersey Nets in the early 1990s when Jon was president and Steve was a rookie ticket salesperson.  The Nets hadn’t come close to selling out a game in seven years including when Michael Jordan would play, but after Jon and Steve got involved, the Nets sold 29 out of 41 games within four years despite having a lousy team. 

In his second season with the Nets, Steve became the first-ever Director of Group Sales in the NBA when no other team really paid much attention to group tickets.  (The hapless Nets quickly led the NBA in group ticket sales and it changed group ticket sales throughout the sports world.)

 After a few years Jon moved on to other challenges and Steve used these same philosophies when he led ticket sales at the LA Kings, post Wayne Gretzky.  Even after trading the greatest player ever in professional hockey, Steve led the Kings to the second highest increase in ticket revenue in the league in his second year.

 Then Jon and Steve joined up again at Mandalay Baseball Properties with a minor league baseball start-up, the Dayton Dragons.  

Because they helped start the Dayton Dragons from scratch, they were able to implement the principles of How to Sell the Last Seat in the House without any hindrances or hesitation.  That first year, the Dayton Dragons sold every ticket to every game, before the season started.  That feat had never been done before in the 100+ year history of minor league baseball. 

The Dayton Dragons sold out the next season, of course, and every season since then. They broke the record for most consecutive sellouts by a professional team in 2011 when they sold out game number 815 in a row (the record had been previously held by Jon Spoelstra and the Portland Trail Blazers).  As of 2015, the Dragons are approaching 1,100 straight sellouts, faithfully following the principles of How to Sell the Last Seat in the House.

After 12 years, Jon left Mandalay, mainly to write more books and play more golf in Portland, Oregon and Maui, Hawaii.  A couple of years later, Steve left Mandalay to start his own consulting company.   They kept in touch and one day after playing a round of golf, we had this conversation:

 “I get calls from teams asking for help implementing How to Sell the Last Seat in the House,” Steve said.

 “Yeah, I get some sales every month from my website even though the workbooks are over 20 years old,” Jon said, “I should update them.”

 “You should. The principles are still valid today, it’s just some of the examples are dated,” Steve replied.

 “The way to update it,” Jon said, “is to make it very specific to what a team should do.  Remember, I initially wrote it for college students and I wanted to present a global view on tickets.  For this to work for teams, we have to make it step-by-step what a team needs to do to sell out game after game.  Some chapters should be completely re-written, some chapters should be tossed out.  And, after we re-write it, we should add all the things that we’ve added during the years.  Like how we trained Ticket Sales Managers and how we used our ticket boot camps to create sales superstars (click here to see where some of those superstars are now) and how we really changed group sales for the entire industry.”

 Steve agreed.  “You’d have to put in a handbook for each salesperson,” Steve said, “and a handbook for each group salesperson.”

 “And video as to what a perfect sales pitch looks like,” Jon said.

 “And a place where you could get copies of all the letters and ads we ran that were successful,” Steve said, “and renewal letters, and forms we used to keep track of everything.”

“If you’d help,” Jon said, “I’d consider it.”  Jon felt that Steve would be the perfect partner.  After all, Steve had trained countless sales staff on Jon’s stuff.  Heck, Jon felt that Steve probably knew his stuff better than he did.

Jon and Steve created The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House, a treasure trove of tools, strategies and training material for teams to dramatically ramp up ticket sales.  After just 18 months, there are more than 110 teams already using The Ultimate Toolkit with tremendous success.

The goal with The Ultimate Toolkit was for teams to be able to develop their own strategy and do their own training, following the principles Jon and Steve laid out, without needing outside consultants or sales trainers.  The Ultimate Toolkit takes their combined 50+ years of experience selling tickets and put it all in to an easy-to-follow set of workbooks for teams to implement.

In The Ultimate Toolkit, you’ll find that selling every ticket to every game isn’t easy.  If it was, every game in every sport would be sold-out. 

 While selling every ticket to every game isn’t easy, it is now doable using The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House. 

Click on some of the navigation buttons on the right-hand side of this webpage.  Watch a few of the videos.  Call or email Steve below with questions.  Ask about the more than 100 teams who are using The Ultimate Toolkit with tremendous success.  Then, take the next step and join them in creating your own success selling out.

 

Steve DeLay:  SteveDelay@earthlink.net, Cell phone: 702 493-2661

Jon Spoelstra: findjon@msn.com

 

______________________________________       

1 Steve and I started to collaborate on selling out games at the New Jersey Nets.  Here’s our sellout record:

 

Jon Spoelstra Sellouts

 

Team

Years

League

Sellouts

Portland Trail Blazers

1979-90

NBA

460

New Jersey Nets

1991-95

NBA

54

Dayton Dragons

2000-09

Minor League Baseball

778

Staten Island Yankees

2007-09

Minor League Baseball

50

Misc. Mandalay teams

2000-09

Minor League Baseball teams

104

TOTAL

 

 

1446

 

 

 

 

 

Steve DeLay Sellouts     

 

Team

Years

League

Sellouts

New Jersey Nets

1993-96

NBA

45

LA Kings

1996-99

NHL

31

Dayton Dragons

2000-12

Minor League Baseball

845

Staten Island Yankees

2007-12

Minor League Baseball

77

Misc. Mandalay teams

2000-12

Minor League Baseball teams

135

TOTAL

 

 

1135

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is like the Swiss Army Knife for ticket sales except it has more tools.

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