What makes a great ballpark?

What makes a great ballpark?
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2013

My favorite is AT&T Park. You don’t have to love baseball to love going there. And that really is the business issue: How do you build or maintain a park that attracts people who don’t really care about baseball? The Cubs aren’t spending $500 million in renovations because baseball fans don’t love Wrigley. They’re concerned about the long-term attractiveness of the park and providing all fans, baseball lovers or not, with a good experience.

What makes a good park?

In the past two weeks I visited  Dodgers Stadium, Petco Park (Padres), and Citizens Bank Park (Phillies). On this three-park trip I focused more on the team stores in addition to the sportscape. Let’s take a quick look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the good.

sportscape-factorsSan Diego’s Petco Park is also one of my favorite parks. The location is perfect, adjacent to the Gaslight District for fine eating and close to major thoroughfares and public transportation for easy access. Walk two blocks and you’re good for a stroll along the bay. I’ve been here many times, so the pictures highlight a few things you might not notice if you’ve only been here once or twice.

Many team stores are designed as an after-thought. Not so at Petco Park. The Padres team store opens to an exterior retail street. The merchandise assortment, displays, lighting, and layout are as nice as any comparable upscale retail store. (Place cursor over pictures to pause & read comments.)

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Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park is located in the same area as all of the Philly sports facilities. Public transportation is great (take the Phillies Express to the AT&T subway station), parking is fine, but if you plan to do anything else besides go to the game, forget about it. Outside of the Xfinity Live! establishment on the corner by the football and baseball stadiums, there’s nothing but concrete for miles.

Great parks have signature foods and restaurants–not only in the club level–that fans actually want to consume beyond standard hot dog & beer fare. Outside of maybe the Philly cheese steaks, this is not one of them. The food service on the club level is above average, but the general access food is typical. Overall, the layout and design of the park is easy to navigate and the size of the stadium makes for good sight lines and seats all around.

With respect to the team store, fans may be deceived by the relatively small storefront visible from the concourse. The store is very large and contains an extensive collections of kids and women’s clothing. As with the Padres, the Phillies offer some exclusive items you can only get at the park. Good call.

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Dodger Stadium is iconic. Any baseball fan will love it.

Dodger Stadium Access
Dodger Stadium Access

Any non-fan? Not so sure. You may have heard it’s in a ravine. From a traffic standpoint, the vast majority of fans assume the only entrance is off the 110 via I-5 or the 101 (blue line on map). The reality is not that LA fans are fashionably late. They are all stuck in traffic about a mile from the stadium.

After sitting at a complete standstill for 15 minutes coming off the 101, I took off to explore an alternate route (the black line) away from the traffic jam. (“Yes, dear, it IS better to move no matter what than to stand still in traffic.”)

In short order I ended up parked–for free–on a nearby street where all the locals obviously go. Traffic was still piled up at the bottle-necked entrance as I walked past the $20 parking. All it would take would be a few traffic cops directing to the less traveled routes. Alternately, like the San Antonio Spurs and others have done, teams can place traffic directions on the website for newcomers. Better yet, email to new ticket buyers.

Now to the apparel and a few other things. Since I love Magic Johnson and the Dodgers I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The smaller team store, drab concrete floors and facades, and cramped serving areas are problems with any park built back in the Stone Age of stadiums (1950-70s). Food service areas, passageways, restrooms, and virtually anything that should provide amenities were designed as discomforts. That said, the lower levels have better food service, but fans aren’t allowed to go below their seated level.

Franchises can make some changes. The Dodgers could generate millions in new revenue by moving the press box out of its prime space directly behind home plate. Other parks (e.g., White Sox, Astros, etc.) moved press boxes and immediately sold out all of the new premium seats.

Want more?

These are just snapshots of a few things baseball franchises (MiLB and MLB) should be monitoring. As part of Baylor’s Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program, we go into these issues and many more. If interested in an in-depth treatment of sportscape management, you may want to read more at www.teamsportsmarketing.com. As information, this text contains frequent attempts at humor.

Why aren’t sports teams building the most popular Pinterest boards?

Why aren’t sports teams building the most popular Pinterest boards?
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2013

Why your digital marketing manager should be all over Pinterest

The majority of Pinterest users are women (about 2/3rds). What should this tell teams?

A great way to reach women is through Pinterest. Last time I checked, women are an important audience for any sports team. The fact that teams aren’t effectively using Pinterest likely says more about the makeup of the digital marketing team than it does the potential benefits of building out the team’s Pinterest boards with the same intensity as we have our other social media.

What should stand out to you from these Pinteresting facts is that 28% of users are moms with household incomes above $100,000 and that the referral rate from Pinterest dominates other social media.

Pinteresting facts
by Christine Erickson

In addition to directly building and reinforcing fan passion among women, teams should effectively communicate with women because of their influence on joint family decisions, like buying season tickets and influencing media viewing habits.

How can we do a better job?

What teams are doing a good job with Pinterest? Comment below or send an email to suggest follow-up articles on the S3 Report.

A couple of suggestions

Given what’s of most interest on Pinterest now (below), how could teams capitalize on the millions of followers? I’ll start with two ideas: First, partner with a brand who does well in targeting women. Second, start a board on Weddings at the Ballpark.

Most popular brand boards on Pinterest
Most popular brand boards on Pinterest (click to go to source article)

Sales Training: How to Handle Objections

Sales Training: How to Handle Objections
by Sean Ream – May 2013

Handling Objections

How often do you hear the proud statement from a sales representative, “I just had a great conversation, they are definitely going to buy.”  A natural response from the manager usually is, “What are his/her concerns?”   And then comes the answer you don’t want to hear.  “They don’t have any.  They just want to look the information over first.”

How do managers eliminate these conversations?  How do we not only handle the stalls and objections, but seek them out?  Younger salespeople typically avoid objections because they aren’t fully prepared to handle them.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Gregg Allen
Gregg Allen

Coupling urgency techniques and preempting objections before they become an issue is a crucial step to shortening the sales cycle, which gives the salesperson more time to find that next client. [/dropshadowbox]

How should objections be handled? Let’s line up all of the objections so we know what we are working with.

  1. Identify the stall or objection,
  2. Ask for and isolate all roadblocks, and
  3. Gain a commitment from the customer pending a solution to all of their concerns.

As veterans in the sales process we understand that drawing out objections is a natural part of the sales process.  Yet, one challenge I have faced as a manager/trainer is how to impart confidence and excitement to attack the hoops customers make us jump through.

At the Major League Soccer National Sales Center, we have built a library of drills to battle this challenge.  Here are a couple of favorites you might want to add to your arsenal.

Objection Rolodex Workshop       

Trainees begin with a standard issue Objection Rolodex (see picture below).  Start by asking the trainees to whiteboard all objections heard on the phones, no matter how crazy they may seem.   Once all roadblocks to a potential sale are exhausted, the class enters these objections on the top of an index card within the rolodex.imageimage

Take the top two or three objections and ask the class to contribute or develop their best rebuttals.  Responses are recorded on the back of the corresponding index card.

The real power of this exercise lies within the freedom to think creatively with no pressure and to build off of teammates’ ideas.  Perhaps you can award a prize for the best new rebuttal.

Running this exercise each month brings recent objections to the forefront and salespeople can share rebuttals that are working.  The Rolodex then becomes an updated resource to review and share throughout a sales career.  Documenting great responses ensures they are habit-forming and never lost.

Objection Flip Cup 

We repurposed a favorite college drinking game, flip cup, utilizing root beer or water for this game.  (Google if unfamiliar.)

The catch is that a common objection is entered on the bottom of the cup.  Once the root beer is consumed, the trainee reads the bottom to find the objection.  Before attempting to flip, the person directly to the right must provide a rebuttal to the objection.  If the cup does not land on its top, the partner must reply with another rebuttal.  This continues until the cup is flipped on its top.  The process begins again with the next teammate and progresses down the line.   It’s a race!

Managers can stand behind the trainees as a judge.  Was the rebuttal truly a response that could handle that particular objection?  We also videotape these games for review on a debrief.  Practice and repetition helps make these rebuttals commonplace on the phone.

Our younger sales staff loves this game.  I wonder why?  More importantly, it forces your partner to develop a new rebuttal in a very short amount of time.  Especially if you have a teammate who is as bad at flip cup as I am.

Improvisational Comedy Exercises

Improv forces participants to listen, accept all ideas given to them by their partners, and react in a way that moves the scene or conversation forward.

In the clip, “What’s in the box?”  we explain the way the exercise can be completed and how it relates back to ticket sales.  Please contact us if you would like more information on this exercise.  We are happy to provide tips to get the most out of these drills from a facilitation standpoint.

Follow us @MLSNSC and friend us on Facebook.


I’ve got the golden ticket! Breaking down the anatomy of a ticket sales promotion

I’ve got the golden ticket! Breaking down the anatomy of a ticket sales promotion
by Ken Troupe – May 2013

NO, not really.  The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers have the original Golden Ticket.  What we at the Phoenix Coyotes saw was an idea that worked for another team, so we developed a version that would work for us.

It has always been my thought that to be good at the business of selling tickets you need to always be looking for and trying to develop the next “great idea.”  In my eye, the next “great idea” can be something truly original or something you saw work (or not work) for another team.  The latter was the case here with the Coyotes GOALden Ticket.Phoenix Coyotes Goalden Ticket

The Golden Gopher’s Golden Ticket was based around the idea that if you saw the Gophers Men’s basketball team lose at home your ticket was voided.   They sold some packages, but they also got a tremendous amount of buzz, and created exposure for their program.  We took the idea and adapted as our own with three main focus points.

    1. We wanted to develop a ticket package to help drive sales over the last 10 games of our season, which are games that traditionally we struggle with.
    2. We looked at the GOALden Ticket as an excellent branding tool to create some buzz within our market and possibly nationally.
    3. We continually work to find ideas to help fill our building which also increases the demand and perceived value of our season tickets.

A Golden Incentive Plan

Emphasize potential savings. We built incentives around the Coyotes version of the GOALden Ticket to encourage our fans to attend as many games as possible.  The package centered on the number of goals allowed at home emphasizing the “potential” value/savings the holder of a GOALden Ticket may receive.

We offered a five goal package for $100 and a twenty-five goal package for $250.  We picked a seating area with the smallest percentage of season ticket holder in a lower level section normally listed with a gate price of $75.  If we had given up five goals that first game, those folks with the 5-goal package would had seen one game for $100.  As it turned out we surrendered five goals over three games, so the average ticket price ended up at $33.33 a seat and a great value for our fans.

Promote additional attendance. As of today we have given up fifteen total goals over eight  games, so it appears that our 25-goal GOALden Ticket buyers will see all 10-games. That works out to the great value of $25 a game.  Additionally we added an element to encourage buyers to attend each of our games: If GOALden ticket plan buyers see a shutout the team will provide extra tickets to the last regular season game of the year.

Distribute via multiple channels. We marketed the GOALden Ticket via an email blast, the use of a variably printed postcard to past season ticket buyers (5-6 years back), a purchased list of recent new movers from hockey markets, a strong social media push and newsletter/press release inclusion.

The GOALden Ticket ended up being a tremendous win for us, selling around 200 packages for $35,000 in revenue, and another $10,000 in revenue coming from other packages that resulted from call campaign to past STHs.

What’s your idea?

Now, of course, the challenge becomes to find that next big idea and adapt it as our own.   Tell us what’s worked for you in the comment section below and tweet @KTsportsmarket and @BaylorS3.


5 Ways to Keep Partnerships Fresh

5 Ways to Keep Partnerships Fresh
by Dawn Turner – May 2013

Keeping it Fresh

Signing a long-term deal can be compared to getting married. In the beginning the relationship and courtship are very exciting. Executing the agreement constitutes the end of a courtship process.  The first couple of years are the honeymoon phase. Then the focus switches to how to keep things fresh.

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Padres SVP
Tyler Epp

san_diego_padresWith all of our focus on measurement, impressions, ratings, and formulas, the success for our long-term partnerships are more a product of relationships with partners and consistent commitment to truly investing in our shared community in an authentic and meaningful way.[/dropshadowbox]

Keeping things fresh is a challenge all brands and properties eventually face.  But, thankfully, there are five steps partners can take to ensure things run smoothly.

1. Communicate. Maintain regular intervals of communication to make sure changes in priorities, objectives, staff or branding are shared and understood by both parties.

2. Take time. Deep relationships at multiple levels inside both organizations takes time. Doing so allows both parties to build camaraderie and strength that will become important during the latter years leading to renewal or renegotiation.

3. Anticipate staff changes. The folks that negotiate and execute the long-term deals are not always going to be around to see them through. When staff changes *on either side), both parties must work to maintain consistent communication and share past history, programs, successes/failures, etc. Doing so will ensure seamless transition when these changes occur.

4. Review terms. Terms negotiated in long-term contracts need revisiting and maybe even refreshed at regular intervals.  A good example is a 10-year contract that began in 2000. Who knew the internet and social media would evolve the way they did during that time?  Odds are that properties took the opportunity to create additional revenue streams via these channels with other partners. However, they should consider offering alternative assets to a long-term partner to demonstrate how important they are to the organization.  Parties that anticipate changes and are willing to make room for them throughout the term of the contract will find themselves in the best position for creating and maintaining long-term relationships that last.

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Wayne Guymon
Wayne Guymon

foxsports san diegoThe key element of long-term agreements is the ability to continually re-visit the partnership throughout the term.

The worst case scenario for both sides is simply being heard from at renewal time. In order to ensure continued success, a long-term partnership should be treated as an annual renewal. While the framework of the agreement stays in place, continual evolution of the elements is critical.[/dropshadowbox]

5. Renew your vows. Just because a partner signed a long-term deal does not mean properties should say, “Thanks, here are your assets. Have a nice life.”  Over time a property may come to rely on this partner revenue as “expected.” See what happens in other relationships when you take someone for granted. If you want to sustain the relationship, work closely with partners to ensure the relationships remain deep, programs relevant and results are shared on a continual basis.  Properties taking this approach rarely find themselves in divorce court, barring a massive shift in strategy, finances or other extraneous reasons.

What will you do today?

During the courtship process both parties have stars in their eyes and see infinite possibilities. What do you need to do today with your partners to create and maintain the enthusiasm you had back in the beginning?

Mutual respect takes time, effort, constant open lines of communication, openness to change and making room for change.  If you follow this road map to partner relations, odds are you’ll celebrate a series of milestone anniversaries for years to come.


No…A Four Letter Word

No…A Four Letter Word
by Shane Hildreth – May 2013

Think back to your childhood.

You’re playing with your friends in the front yard and a four letter word comes flying out of your mouth just as your mom walks outside.  And just like that, you’re grounded.

You knew you shouldn’t have said it, but it’s just a word…What’s the big deal?

Well, when it comes to servicing corporate partners, “NO” is a four letter word.  You should treat this word as the worst four letter word you can think of. Think of your corporate partner as your mother.

Dealing with the impossible

Suppose a client asks you to run across the field during the middle of a game waving the company banner. Your initial answer should be, “Wow, that would be awesome, wouldn’t it?  Let me check with our marketing department and see what we can do.”

Go to your team to discuss what the client would like to achieve and come up with alternatives.  Your client probably understands the original request is unlikely and will appreciate you presenting viable options.

David_spade_no_smallThe role of partner services is to activate the contract in a positive and timely manner. Putting up road blocks potentially harms the overall relationship.  Direct the conversation away from what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do. Turn the conversation from negative to positive.

How to say, “Yes I no.”

Every good sales person needs an alternative to the word “no” to signal you are considering the client’s concerns.

  • “Let me check with my boss.”
  • “Let me check with our marketing department.”
  • “Let me check with our league office.”
  • “I’ll need to see if that piece of inventory is available.”
  • “Due to another contract we might be limited in what we can do.”

These examples buy time to come up with options to help clients achieve their marketing goals.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Brianne Bruner“Our success with athletic sponsorships is tied directly to the relationships we have with our sports representatives. We view them as an extension of our team.

My job is not merely to say “Yes” and “No” to prospective projects, but to ask, “How can this partnership be mutually beneficial?”

A good sports representative understands that and pitches projects accordingly. When we work with someone we trust and believe is truly there to help our company succeed, the possibilities for collaboration are endless.”

Brianne Bruner, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, Wells Fargo Bank Houston[/dropshadowbox]

Fight for your client

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Leigh Anne Ramsay
Leigh Anne Ramsay

When presenting an idea to a sponsor saying, “ I understand your goals you are trying to achieve, here is another solution we have seen done before that has been successful,” you add value to the partnership.[/dropshadowbox]When you know that there is no way a particular request could ever happen, you still need to show you are fighting for your client’s best interest.

If you tell your client no immediately, it means that you are not fighting for them.

At the end of the day you should be fighting for your clients to get them everything they need to make the partnership mutually beneficial.  You are the internal negotiator for them with your team.  You work for them just as much as you work for your property.

Just trust me

Just trust me
by Lolly Daskal – May 2013


Imagine telling someone: “I’m going to be taking you on a long, dangerous, and difficult trip. There will be times you are likely to be very uncomfortable, and there may be terrible storms. I’m not going to tell you where we are going, why we are going, when we are going, or how we will get there. Just TRUST ME.”

How do you think that would make anyone feel?

When a leader implements organizational change – when a boss makes major decisions affecting employees – it doesn’t work to say “just trust me.”

Like frightened children, people will come up with all kinds of reasons to resist and refuse why they do not want to come along on the trip – even if it’s a good one![dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

The CMO’s View

Sales managers develop trust based on this basic formula:

Trust = Rapport X Credibility

Alan See
Alan See

The manager, or anyone in a relationship, does things to develop and build rapport and credibility, while also doing things to reduce perceived risks for the other. The relationship won’t move forward without trust. [/dropshadowbox]

Most of us do not want to take trips into the unknown and without a destination.

Telling people “just trust me” is naiveté at its worst.

It shows an enormous amount of disrespect, sometimes dishonesty, and maybe just delusional!

In the sports business today, trust has to be earned. In leadership today, trust has to be gained.

What is trust?

  1. Trust is  being congruent. Match your words with your actions; what you say you will do you do.  Being trusted is being dependable.
  2. Trust is embracing transparency. When it comes to trust, the more you reveal the more you can see. When trust is transparent it can be embraced.
  3. Trust is  honoring promises. Keep what you promised. Better yet, go the extra mile and deliver more than you promised.
  4. Trust is a two-way street. To make someone trustworthy, you need to trust them first. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  5. Trust is risk. Trust lies between faith and probability. To risk is to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Take the risk and have the faith and trust to pull you through.
  6. Trust is a relationship. Trust begins with the self in relationship with another.  Trust others as you would wish to be trusted.
  7. Trust is the glue helping us stick through organizational change. Trust is foundational to holding us together.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ] How am I going to lead today? 

  • Trust my people so they can engage and be part of the change.
  • Trust my people so they can enroll and add value to the change.
  • Trust my people so they can embrace and understand and respect the change.[/dropshadowbox]

Lead from within: Any leader who says “just trust me”  expecting loyalty will get a group of employees resenting the journey instead of enjoying the adventure.

Trust  grasps others on your team at their innermost core of loyalty.

How Will Teams Stay Personal In This Social Media Era?

How Will Teams Stay Personal In This Social Media Era?
by Bryan Apgar – May 2013

Look at these “kids” these days; all they do is tweet, text,  and Facebook each other and don’t get out and do anything together. Some even sit in the same room texting each other.

Social media can help or hinder personal relationships. You might react to these “kids” like I do sometimes. Or, you might see social media as offering opportunities for new and extensive personal relationships, especially when relating to your customers.

Let’s look at a few ways social media can be used to keep or create a more personal level with your customers.


Low touch media = High touch service

Long gone are the days of dial up internet or even DSL internet (which we used to think was lightning speed).

Everything has to be faster. We need our information faster, our answers faster, everything faster. That makes social media the perfect medium.

Several months back I was having some issues with my cable/internet company (to remain nameless). While on the phone on hold,  I tweeted something along the lines of “having issues, terrible service, #onhold, @companyx.”

Within seconds I had a tweet back from a company rep asking me to direct message them so I could give them my number and they could call me immediately.

I was just trying to let my frustration out (albeit it to my low number of twitter followers), but was immediately contacted and had the situation resolved because of the instantaneous nature of social media.  What we might think of as impersonal and low touch, but the immediate service response times via social media communicates a higher level of personal attention:  “They must really care about me.”

Hangout with Brady Heslip
Hangout with Brady Heslip

Get personal

Social media gives the customer a greater sense of being “a part” of something.  Especially in the sports industry, fans are very passionate about their teams and players.  Fans join groups, like pages, follow certain players, teams, reports, and blogs. The list can go on and on.

Through those verticals, we can open up a community that helps bring people together and increases their connections with the team.  Doing contests, tweet photos, text to win, tag yourself here, etc. are a great way to get fans to directly connect with the team. And it allows the team to show a personal connection back.

Tweeting contest winner’s names makes it personal, especially for that person who won.  How cool is it to have your favorite team tweet or post your name or picture?  And even those that didn’t win like it because they can see it and think, “Wow that’s cool, hope I win next time” or even “Wow, I know that person.”

Increase transparency

Social media can also open up the transparency of a team.  Give a behind the scenes look that people would not normally get to see.  Social media allows for interaction through Google hangouts, or Twitter and Facebook Q&A’s with a player or coach that would not normally happen.  Fans love just seeing pictures or comments posted by players that delve more into their personal lives.HBR tip

So whether we want to brand social media as hindering or helping in personal connections, we can probably all agree that it is an effective way to bring community, stay connected, and increase personal connection with your fans.

Some of us can’t seem to put down our phones or be away from iPads, computers, or tablets. Our world might seem to be losing the in-person-to-person connection, but properly used, social media can increase our perceptions of personal connections.

No more cold calls: Three steps to making informed calls and increasing close rates

No more cold calls: Three steps to making informed calls and increasing close rates
by Flavil Hampsten – May 2013

You are sitting at your desk making sales calls.   But now the computer is missing. A pile of 8 x 5 cards is stacked in front of you. Each card contains only a name, address and phone number.  Sliding your hand into your pocket for your cell phone, you find only lint. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over….into the Twilight Zone.

I don’t think any of us want to go back to the times of index cards and no computers.  How successful would be today if all you had was a name and number on a piece of paper?  Luckily for you, those days are over.

Making informed calls

Some organizations only allow salespeople to make informed calls.  Analytics determine which prospects have the best chance to become customers and give these prospects to the salespeople most suitable to close.

How does this happen?

1.  Data Aggregation – Collecting and centrally storing data helps the company and salespeople perform at peak levels in terms of closing ratios.

Are you on the team? This performance is not simply a function of the sales management team, but every salesperson on the floor.   Sales management purchases demographic data and stores it in a system for the salesperson to use.  However, each time the salesperson uncovers something about the prospect, the salesperson should also put that into the system.  Failure to do so will not only hurt the current salesperson but will also hurt the ability of each salesperson who comes after them.

2.  Buyer Behavior Studies – Once you have a set of data points, teams can then look to see if certain set of attributes equate to a better likelihood to close.  A predictive model comes into play when management can link “like” attributes to certain buyers.  For example, one may notice that most buyers of a mini-plan are males between 25-35 years of age, married, have children, and have a discretionary index of 100.   Once that is identified, management can assign similar prospects to the salespeople.

Russell Scibetti
Russell Scibetti

In-depth analysis. Some teams, such as the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Jets have upwards of 50 data points on each person in their system. Russell Scibetti explains, “The ability to aggregate behavioral and demographic data with the insights our staff collects puts us in a position to offer the right product options for any segment of our customer base.”

3.  Seller Behavior Studies – Critical, yet often overlooked, closing rates can determine which salesperson is most appropriate to call the lead. Who should get the web lead? Individual game buyer?

  • Jack closes web leads at a 58% margin and individual game buyers at an 8% rate.
  • Jill closes web leads at 35% and individual game buyers at 18%.

Analyze each lead segment.  Like Jack and Jill, you will usually find a trend for each salesperson.  Feed that salesperson the leads they are most likely to close and you will find that most salespeople will increase their total production. During training periods you can also help individuals improve in less productive segments.


If these three elements are correctly implemented you will have salespeople making informed calls with qualified leads.  This system was implemented two seasons ago in Charlotte we took our closing percentage from .5% to 4%.

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Chris Zeppenfeld
Chris Zeppenfeld

Moving your sales team’s winning percentage from say something like 2.2% to 2.5% may not sound like much on the surface. However, when you multiply that across 30-40 sales reps managing a total of 5,000-7,000 leads as a whole at a given time, that little 0.3% jump in winning percentage equates to about 10-20 more sales you are “winning” per week. If we can even move the needle a tenth of a percentage point better, it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars to our sales campaign.[/dropshadowbox]

We’re glad we have moved out of the Twilight Zone. We said “goodbye” to cold calls and our customers are saying “hello” to our informed calls.

Are you investing enough time into training? The 3 elements of good programs

Are you investing enough time into training? The 3 elements of good programs
by Drew Ribarchak – May 2013

In February 2008, Starbucks shut down all of its stores because of bad habits and inconsistency among their baristas. A sign on the front door that read,

We’re taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honoring our craft.

Implementing a strategic and on-going training program will avoid shutting down the sales office due to poor execution and consistently bad habits. Investing time perfecting the sales pitch and process will far exceed simply learning by doing.

A sales department must lay a solid foundation with the initial training program because

  • Fundamentals established in the first weeks of on-boarding determines the slope of the learning curve during continuous training.
  • On-going training taps the full potential of top talent and maximizes revenue.
  • Developing well-rounded sales and service reps provides them opportunities to learn and grow in their current roles while preparing for the next steps in their careers.

Essential Training Topics

Effective training includes variety in the way the sessions are conducted, especially if training occurs on a daily or weekly basis. Common topics include:

  • Scripting
  • Needs Analysis
  • Handling Objections
  • Up-selling
  • Product Knowledge & Benefits
  • Face to Face Appointments
  • Time Management
  • Prospecting
  • CRM Advanced Finds & Strategy
  • Presentation Skills
  • Arena Tour Walk-through

Some areas require more focus than others: needs analysis, handling objections and face to face appointments.

Reviewing Game Film

Role playing generic situations can get stale and monotonous after the initial training period.  Call Copy is a voice recording system the Columbus Blue Jackets use to develop sales and service skill sets. Similar to an athlete watching game film, the representative and sales leader listen to real situations with clients and prospects. This tremendous tool re-enforces the strengths of the sales rep and identifies areas of improvement.

Matt Fahr
Matt Fahr

Matt Fahr and the Cleveland Cavaliers utilize iPads and video cameras to record role plays. “We have been using the iPads at our team members’ desks during calls to record conversations and mannerisms. We use a positive recording and negative recording in our weekly team training sessions where we will hook the iPads up to a large big screen TV and review film.”

Interactive Ways to Stay Sharp
CRM Brown Bag Lunches:
Arena-wide Scavenger Hunt:
Co-op Business Role Plays:  pair senior & entry level rep


The on-going training program will be most effective when it:

  1. Systematic: Completed on a regular basis with a diverse mix of training scenarios
  2. Engagement: Offers the rep a high level of engagement and periodic control of the agenda
  3. Balanced: Re-enforces strengths and recognizes areas of improvement

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Travis Apple and the Pittsburgh Pirates give the sales team more control over the weekly agenda by pairing an Account Executive with an Inside Sales Representative:

Travis Apple
Travis Apple

“The AE and the rep meet a few days before the session with ideas and a plan of attack. The representatives would actually conduct the training session based on what their peers were currently experiencing on the front line. All of the training sessions were very interactive and really help the management staff identify future leaders of the department.” [/dropshadowbox]