The essential elements of successful sales leadership: Staying ahead of the curve

The essential elements of successful sales leadership: Staying ahead of the curve
by Carson Heady – July 2013

Two governing principles

Two governing principles drive sales management success: people and process. The right personnel following the right procedures equal success. The numbers will be there. In Vegas the house always wins because it knows and plays the odds. In the same way, we fail when we don’t play the percentages of tried and true methods. Many managers find inexplicable (for them) failure because of this very reason:

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Sales Management Failure

Trying to follow a process with the wrong people OR failing to provide the right process to the right people.[/dropshadowbox]

Managers get too caught up chasing numbers, telling the team they need more of [place your metric here] without showing them how. Reps fizzle out for that very reason.

Two vital steps for new leaders

Relationships

The vital first step of your process as sales leader is building the relationships. No team respects someone who shows up and starts barking orders. Why should they? This manager has not established trust, gained respect and earned the right to lead. The manager title is one thing. But two-way communication fosters a winning team. Building relationships  involves:

  • rolling up your sleeves,
  • getting in the trenches,
  • learning from front line employees what actually transpires and needs improvement, and
  • seeing through their eyes what works and what doesn’t.

There is no better way to diagnose the business. You cannot introduce changes to processes without taking these first steps. 

martin_coco_90x135Martin Coco, Director of Ticket Sales and Marketing for the St. Louis Cardinals, shares, “Two of the most important things we need to do as managers is to establish relationship and legitimacy with our staff.” With the Cardinals in particular, Martin says, “It helps that all of our manager-level staff have been promoted internally. They have done the job of the individuals they now lead.”

Although teams can’t always promote from within, Coco points out that it helps when you can. Managers have instant legitimacy with the group they are leading, as Coco points out, because they can say, “I’ve been in your shoes, and I know what challenges you are facing.”

Focus

Once relationships are built, don’t focus on selling more. Focus on what prevents sales. Gain trust by eliminating obstacles to selling.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#fffffff” ]When obstacles are removed there is nothing left to do but sell.[/dropshadowbox]

Sell your team on why process tweaks are beneficial; they fear change just like a customer does.

Understand the sales food chain: your relationship with your team is akin to the rep relationship with a customer.  You must

  • ask questions,
  • learn their existing processes,
  • gain trust,
  • expose gaps they may not have even known about, and
  • convince them to change based on need.

Make the fear of status quo outweigh the fear of change. Reps can make their choices. Either way, they get outside of their comfort zones. Your ability to move them away from comfortable ways of failing or maintaining mediocrity determines your success.

Staying ahead of the curve

trouble with the curveNone of us wants to have trouble with the curve. The key to hitting curve balls is watching the release point to identify the pitch. Then you can adjust the swing. So everyone on the team keeps their eyes on the ball, you must do three things with sales reps so that they can see what’s coming:

  1. Document: where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going and what steps we are taking to get there.
  2. Hold accountable: did they take the steps to get there? If not, why not?
  3. Recognize: pay with money, pay with promotion, pay with attention.

Strive for personal stretch goals bigger than the commitments you must meet for your organization. Term organization goals as minimum expectations. Then even barely falling short of your stretch goals means you stay ahead of the curve.

How’s your sense of sell? Defining your personal brand

How’s your sense of sell? Defining your personal brand
by Brian George – July 2013

Much of your personal brand is on display via social media, as Ken Troupe shared with us in Establishing Your Personal Brand and What does your Twitter and LinkedIn say about your personal brand.

John Maguire
John Maguire

Within the context of premium and corporate sales, let’s explore more what it means to establish and grow your “Personal Brand.” A large portion of what I’ve learned and applied through the years came through a workshop facilitated by John Maguire, Sr. Vice President of Corporate Partnership with the New York Giants.

What Makes You Unique?

At any given time in a market there are perhaps as many as 1,000 professionals selling marketing and/or advertising to your competition.

What are you doing differently than your competition to make “You” stick out from the competition?

My “personal brand” started innocently enough at a store with my wife four years ago. I happened to pick up a bow tie and asked her opinion. Her disapproving look was enough motivation for me to purchase said bow tie and wear it the next day to work. I happened to have a meeting with one of the most notorious “bully clients” in the city of Houston. When I walked in, he said, “I like the bow tie, it makes you different.”

From that moment forward the bow tie was a signature of my “personal brand.” So I ask you:

  • What is your signature?
  • When people mention your name in conversation what association is made?
  • When you walk into a meeting, what is your go-to opening that breaks down the wall of conversation?

Whatever you choose to be the signature of your “personal brand,” ensure that your promise, pricing and results are in line. It does you no good to have a signature only to have someone think of it in a negative light. Just like you protect the intellectual property of the company you work for, you need to have a constant understanding of how the actions you take with everyone around you affect your signature; that is, what you leave with them.

3 Brand Relationships

There are three types of brand relationships:

  • Brand Awareness: I know you exist.
  • Brand Identity: I know who you are.
  • Brand Loyalty: I like who you are.

One of the key takeaways of the workshop was: “Industry leaders make the effort to convert brand awareness and identity relationships into brand loyal ones by offering new and improved features of their brands.”

Assuming you want to be the best at what you do:  Take a look at individuals who are probably loyal to another personal brand or know who you are–but aren’t buying. Come up with a tangible action plan to convert them to be brand loyal to your brand.

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Your personal brand

The question is, “Who’s buying?” [/dropshadowbox]

Understanding that the world of selling premium products and sponsorships has evolved so much in the past decade, relationships are still the most important part of what we do.

My relationship with others is based upon their personal brand perceptions. The question is, “Who’s buying?”  For personal and professional reasons, I need to be conscious at all times to represent my own personal brand as best as possible.

What does it really mean to delight premium customers?

What does it really mean to delight premium customers?
by Kirk Wakefield – July 2013

Sports franchises may draw some of the less-discerning masses with dollar hot dog night and all-you-can-ingest seating sections, but luxury seats and suite buyers expect intimate personalization. 

You can’t get intimate with an advertised special or promotion night. As with any other relationship in life, intimacy doesn’t lend itself to just anyone who makes an offer. As customers, we are only willing to commit ourselves to those who take the time to get to know us, understand what we like or prefer, and are interested in our past. Then, maybe, we can talk about having a future together.

What does it mean to delight customers?

Consumer psychologists have studied the concept of consumer delight–the consequence of surprise mixed with joy–for over two decades. Not all surprises are good, of course. Surprise mixed with anger results in outrage. Good to avoid those types of surprises.

More aggressive, proactive properties now go beyond trying to satisfy customers to interact on a very personalized basis. Why?

Selling suites and luxury seats caters to an expert clientele dissatisfied with what everyone else gets.

Fans with limited resources and experiences (novices in terms of sport & entertainment consumption) may be excited just to see a game from the upper deck. But expectations are much higher in premium sales situations and it takes much more to truly delight expert consumers.

Start with knowing your customer

Steve Massi
Steve Massi

Steve Massi, Director of Marketing and Client Strategy at International Micro Systems, explains, “Customer delight is driven by one primary insight: Know Your Customer. At IMS, we transform our customers’ businesses through unique utilization of real-time customer-centric data, resulting in more relevant customer engagement, customer experiences and organization-wide ROI.”

How can this kind of technology lead to delighting customers? The STADIS© Data Integration, Promotions and Engagement Platform empowers properties to use customer data two primary ways:

intimate personalization
Fan Intimacy
  1. First, to drive real-time behavioral engagement and incremental revenue at the transactional “moment of truth,” and
  2. Second, by making this customer-centric data accessible and actionable to develop more relevant offers, communication, and customer experiences.

Mass/group focus vs. Individual focus

Pre-planned, scripted elements of the event experience are aimed at masses or groups. No surprise there. And no delight.

Venues with commercial messages seen on TV surprise no one. Bored or annoyed would be more like it.

Groups brought on the court for special occasions are expected. The only possible delight is when the little kid in the dance squad performs in some unexpected way. Of course, those in the group benefit from belonging, connecting, and recognition (see Fan Intimacy matrix). Semi-scripted portions are more enjoyable.

We only begin to make real progress when we begin to reward and acknowledge individuals with meaningful, relevant methods illustrating our understanding of the customer as an individual.

Brandon Steffek
Brandon Steffek

Personalization

Brandon Steffek, Director of Sales at Full House, helps properties delight customers by incorporating variable information into the designs and content of email and direct mail collateral. Through analyzing market and customer data, Full House can use variable information such as surnames, demographics, company names, industry specific images and content to appeal directly to the behaviors most applicable to customers. Brandon emphasizes, “This approach creates a more personalized and meaningful touch to our email and direct mail efforts both internally and for our customers.” 

The Oakland Raiders, for instance, can personalize emails and mailings to individuals who’ve leased a suite in the past or are identified as potential suite customers.

suitelife

First thing to do

The first thing you must do to delight premium customers is simply to understand that’s the goal. If you think it’s just to sell them space in a seat or suite, provide an entertaining experience, and good service, they can get that at a lot of places. If you continue to do only what expected, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.

The second thing you must do is take advantage of the technologies available to us today to market, sell, and service on an individual personalized basis. We’d love to hear your ideas and examples of ways you’ve found to truly delight premium buyers in your markets. Leave a comment or tweet to us @BaylorS3 and @KirkWakefield.

Download our Sales and Technology Presentation from the 2013 ALSD Conference.

Creating the right culture for your sales team

by Jake Reynolds – July 2013

Creating the Right Culture

What is culture?

We hear the word thrown around in the sales industry about as often as actual sales are being made.

monumental swagGallup defines culture as “the attitudes that employees have about the environment in which they work.” Every organization defines and creates culture in different and unique ways, but most agree the key to a successful sales culture is engaging your employees and creating an environment that promotes and allows them to have success.

At Monumental Sports, we strive to create a culture within our sales department that displays our commitment to becoming the best at what we do through education, hard work, accountability and having fun! We keep employees engaged through team building events, sales contests, and consistently communicating expectations for success.

Create an identity

An important element of developing a solid culture is creating and communicating an identity as to what your team values and promotes.

At Monumental, we created an identity within our Inside Sales department to accomplish these goals known as the S.W.A.G. program. This program helps identify the culture and core pillars of what our program is built on and promotes: Success, Wisdom, Attitude and Growth. Through recruiting, daily management and tracking progress, we consistently communicate our expectations and use these characteristics to build our foundation. What do these four pillars mean?

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Brian Norman
Brian Norman

“Strong culture is at the core of every successful sales team. Culture is especially important for entry-level departments that feed the rest of the organization. Employees take pride in the culture and traditions they helped establish, and bring that with them as they move into senior level positions within the company. Strong culture is paramount in building a successful and sustainable sales and service team.” [/dropshadowbox]

Success We will put employees in a position with the tools necessary to be successful. Success is defined differently for everyone – learning, selling, driving revenue, making money, getting promoted – we will work to find what your goals are and provide you with the necessary resources to accomplish your goals and be successful.

Wisdom Learning never stops! We believe in continued education and development for all reps. We want our dedication and commitment to training and year-round development to be unrivaled in sports. Our focus and goal is to give employees the foundation of wisdom and knowledge to grow and build their career on. The focus is on career not a job.

Attitude We help guide employees to understand what it takes to be successful by reinforcing the attitude and confidence needed to reach their full potentials. Our goal is to be the best in the business and expect nothing less.

GrowthThe primary goal and motivation of our Inside Sales program is to give employees the opportunity, knowledge and tools needed to grow their careers and grow within Monumental Sports. We promote from within. Our success is defined by how many careers we can start and grow within our company. Over the past two years, we promoted 33 reps internally to senior level positions within Ticket Sales, Group Sales, Guest Services and Sponsorships.

What about you?

Every organization has different philosophies and principles that guide and dictate their culture, but the key is engage and lead your team to help establish what your guiding principles will be. In establishing the culture within our department, I followed the roadmap below to help achieve our identity.

  1. Create an identity
  2. Consistently communicate principles and expectations
  3. Follow through and live your brand

Every successful organization has an effective culture that helps drive big results. What will yours be?

S3 Leadership Spotlight: Dave Nottoli @GM

S3 Leadership Spotlight: Dave Nottoli @GM
Dave Nottoli
Dave Nottoli
by Blake Cargill – July 2013

Dave Notolli, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager at General Motors, has worked for GM for over 30 years. A graduate of Purdue University, Notolli has enjoyed the automotive business from the moment he became a part of it. The automotive business has a unique, challenging aspect to it because of the competition and fast paced environment.

Managing the Escalade brand

Pinned as the first brand manager of GM, Notolli was given the difficult task of promoting the Escalade in the early 1990’s. This proved to be a challenging time for Notolli as he learned different roles and responsibilities.

The goal was to establish Escalade as its own brand. In order to do this, Nottoli said, “I had to try to change the mentality of the company and think of each car line as an individual brand.” Notolli was extremely successful, and the Escalade remains as a leader in the premium SUV category today.

Sponsorships fuel global expansion

Manchester United 2014 Jersey
Manchester United 2014 Jersey

Internationally, GM signed a record deal (Reuters estimates the seven-year deal at between $60-70 million a year) as title sponsor of Manchester United. Chevrolet is looking to make a huge push internationally, as its jersey sponsorship with ManU begins in 2014.

Chevrolet is the fastest growing brand in the world right now. Nottoli stated, “It is very important to be a global brand and get global recognition given where markets are growing.”

Regarded as one of the most popular and recognizable soccer teams in the world, Manchester United reaches over 650 million fans worldwide.  This new sponsorship is an excellent gateway into growth and sustainability worldwide.

Digital marketing

What marketing methods seem to be working best now for GM? Notolli pointed towards two fundamental changes related to digital marketing:

cadillac music festival

  1. Product: Equipping cars with technology and digital components to reach a younger crowd.
  2. Promotion: GM’s most successful dealerships effectively use digital marketing and promotions and individual GM brands activate through sports & entertainment sponsorships integrated with social media (see Cadillac inset).

Leadership qualities

Notolli believes team goals always take priority over individual goals. This philosophy contributes to the development of teamwork and collaboration within the GM organization. However, Nottoli believes first and foremost, “We must show integrity in everything we do, being honest and open.”

Nottoli is known for his consistent ethical and moral values as a leader. Ken Mussmann, Chevrolet Field Manager adds, “There are three things about Dave that come to mind when I think about his leadership: First, he is trustworthy. Second, he has an intimate knowledge of the business. And, third, he really cares about the people that work for and with him.”

Stephen Flynn, Chevrolet Marketing Manager believes, “Dave’s work ethic and decision making are always based on his moral compass. Do the right thing, be honest with others, and act with total integrity.”

Differentiating GM from its many competitors is not an easy task. Nottoli regards having great products, customer service, and marketing as the three contributors to making GM stand out among the crowd.  Nottoli believes in his product. He put it best when he said, “What’s good for GM is good for America.”

Where is the next tech battlefield? Predicting the future of sponsors on the field

Where is the next tech battlefield? Predicting the future of sponsors on the field
by Eric Fernandez – July 2013

Microsoft Surface on the sidelines

nfl surface tabletIn May, the NFL announced a ground breaking partnership with Microsoft that would bring interactive features to fans watching at home through the X-box One console (in-game Skyping, split screen to view game feeds with stats and fantasy updates, etc) and provide a significant tech upgrade to the field of play.

Until now, with the exception of headset communication, all technology had to be turned off 90 min before game time.  Coaches used Polaroid images, static play sheets and wipe boards as in-game teaching aids.  With the Microsoft agreement, the Surface tablet will make its way to sidelines allowing coaches a new, dynamic medium to provide players feedback and coaching in real-time.  Additionally, referees will use the Surface tablet to monitor replays from the sideline.

Sponsors getting on the field

From a branding standpoint, the NFL field-of-play is arguably the most premium available real estate – a three hour engagement opportunity with no brand clutter.  Branding opportunities have been limited to three categories:

  1. player uniforms and coaches apparel (Nike),
  2. isotonic drinks (Gatorade) and
  3. coaches headsets, which until last season was owned by Motorola, but is currently available, and noteworthy that is was not part of either the Microsoft agreement or recent Verizon NFL extension.

Tech brands are finding the field-of-play, in particular the NFL gridiron, as the battleground for building their business and brands with consumers.  Consider some recent examples and what might happen in the future:

Victor and his glasses
Victor and his glasses

1) Now: US Women’s tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands using Google Glass as a training aid for her Wimbledon preparation.  As a player, it providers her coach a first-person viewpoint of how she’s reacting.  As the video lead-in shows, in addition to providing her training benefits, it provides a unique and intriguing camera angle for TV viewers (which is not available…yet). Or just check out Victor Oladipo at the NBA draft.  The Future: Imagine NFL referees wearing Google Glass or better yet, quarterback’s helmets equipped with Google Glass to provide a unique TV camera angle.

2) Now: I.F.A.B., soccer’s preeminent lawmaking body, announced in 2012 that chip technology would be implanted in balls to identify when they’ve crossed the goal line.  Using Hawk-Eye and GoalRef technology, the English Premier League has tested the technology to aid referees.  The Future: The NFL should not be too far behind since one of the most controversial, and time consuming, officiating decisions is goal line touchdowns.

3) Now: Technologists are developing brain sensing pads that can be placed in NFL headgear to measure hit impact for concussions.  The Future: Still in the early phases, given the NFL’s focus on game safety, I’d anticipate this rolling out by 2014.

Given the scale and deep engagement of the NFL, I’d anticipate more tech companies looking to use the NFL as a platform to build their business.  If they can integrate their technology to improve the game and the fan experience, it can serve as a relevant content platform that would be better than any form of paid advertising.

How to build trust in relationship selling

How to build trust in relationship selling
by Dan Rockwell – July 2013

All successful relationships require trust

Good salespeople build relationships because organizational success depends on it. If trust is something “they” do, you are the problem.

Research shows three important consequences related to trust and performance.

  1. Overall business performance for organizations is higher when salespeople trust their managers.1 
  2. Individual sales performance is better among salespeople who engender high trust.2 
  3. Employee retention is higher in organizations with high manager-employee trust because the quality of life in the workplace is better.3

How do sales managers and salespeople build strong, resilient relationships?

You learn to behave

Stephen M.R. Covey, says, “Relationship trust is all about behavior … consistent behavior.” (From: “The Speed of Trust.” Today, seven years after publishing, it’s still #2 in Business-Life, Ethics, on Amazon.)

Covey explains 13 behaviors common to high-trust individuals:

  1. Talk straight. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language.
  2. Demonstrate respect. Genuinely care and show it.
  3. Create transparency. Tell the truth in a way that can be verified. Err on the side of disclosure.
  4. Right Wrongs. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible.
  5. Show loyalty. Give credit freely. Speak about people as if they were present.
  6. Deliver results. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses.
  7. Get better. Thank feedback and act on it.
  8. Confront reality. Take issues head on, even the “undiscussibles.”
  9. Clarify expectations. Disclose, reveal, discuss, validate, renegotiate if needed, don’t violate, expectations.
  10. Practice accountability. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate.
  11. Listen first. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others.
  12. Keep commitments. Make commitments carefully. Don’t break confidences.
  13. Extend trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned it. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning it.

Do you want to move up?

Axel Köster
Axel Köster

Axel Köster, General Manager for the Manhattan Group, recruits executives and managers for premium properties such as the Peninsula, Regent, Hilton and others around the world.

“No matter what the industry,” Axel shares “at the top level of any successful organization you must have someone you can truly trust. If you want to move up in your organization, the most important thing you can do is build a reputation for trustworthiness.”

The bottom line is success in relationships and relationship selling depends on your trustworthiness. And so does the trajectory of your career.

Getting started

How do we improve trust? By being intentional about it. Make a copy of Covey’s 13 behaviors. Put it in front of you at work. Find a peer who wants to do the same thing. Keep each other accountable. Practice being happy.

Bill Yates
Bill Yates

Bill Yates, Senior Associate & Partner at the Sports Advisory Group, adds, “Provide solutions to their problems and you’ll be rewarded with trust.”

Continue building trust with colleagues and clients and whether you move up the career ladder or not, at least you’ll be one of the happy ones.

 


Sources

  1. “Making things happen through challenging goals: Leader proactivity, trust, and business-unit performance,” Crosley, Cooper & Wernsing (2013), Journal of Applied Psychology.
  2. “The interrelationships of empathy, trust, and conflict and their impact on sales performance,” Plank & Reid (2010), Journal of Marketing Management.
  3. “Trust your teammates or bosses? Differential effects of trust on transactive memory, job satisfaction, and performance.” Gockel, Robertson & Brauner (2013), Employee Relations.

Show me the money? The truth behind effective sales commission plans

Show me the money? The truth behind effective sales commission plans
by Jeff Tanner – July 2013

Are salespeople motivated just by the $ sign?

Show Me the Money

Perhaps the greatest myth in sales is that salespeople are only in it for the money, especially when it comes to sponsorships and premium sales in sports.

Our research regarding salesperson motivation showed money as the primary motivator for no more than 15% of all salespeople. What about the rest?

Since money should follow performance, the majority are motivated more by:

Independence, Challenge, anGenuinely serving customers

So, that’s what motivates salespeople. What’s the number one way de-motivate salespeople? 

Let’s talk about the role of incentives and commissions and then we’ll get to how to lose your best salespeople.

The Value of Incentives & Commissions

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george killebrewA commission plan must be consistent year to year and fairly simple to understand. We have made only minor adjustments over the last 12 years.

Salespeople do their best when consistency exists and they aren’t thrown a bunch of curve balls.

Money is not the only motivating factor. In fact I think it isn’t even the most important. The ability to have a sense of autonomy, to feel like you are an important team member, to feel like you work for a company that values you, are all important factors to sales success.

mavs logo~ George Killebrew, SVP Business Operations, Dallas Mavericks

[/dropshadowbox]What compensation structure works best to direct salespeople’s activity?

Short term sales incentives are effective motivation when sales tasks are (a) repetitive and (b) don’t require a great deal of creativity. The intrinsic nature of the job just isn’t enough; it takes creative incentives, including well-designed contests to focus salespeople on the right activities. Dangle a carrot in front of a ticket rep and get out of the way. 

Incentives don’t work as well for sales positions like sponsorships that require a lot of (a) creativity, (b) customer care, and have (c) long-term sales cycles.

How to demotivate your sales force

Commissions are excellent motivation to sell and service key accounts in sponsorships or premium ticket sales. You know you’ve succeeded at demotivating your sales force if any one of them begins saying things like, “They cut my commission!” “They keep changing the plan.” Or the worst one, “They owe me…”

In spite of the motivating power of incentives and commissions, organizations can also find ways to break the trust with their salespeople:

  1. Delaying an announcement of compensation plan details: salespeople don’t know what to sell, 
  2. Lowering commission rates in the middle of the selling season in order to boost profits by lowering pay, and
  3. Delay payment while quibbling over minor points in the plan.

Yes, you can just get more salespeople to replace the ones who leave. But when you finally get some good ones back on the team, how many sales were lost?

Solutions

Spend the time to run the compensation plan through tests before launching it. What’s the worst case scenario? The best case?

Think like a rep and figure out what the best sales strategy is to maximize compensation. Can you live with that result?

And plan for a surprise – like adding a bonus mid-selling season. While nothing demotivates like cutting commission after the fact, nothing has more motivating power than a seemingly-random occasional extra reward.

Greg Grissom
Greg Grissom

As Greg Grissom, Vice President of Corporate Development at the Houston Texans, concludes, ”The right compensation plan is a key tool in sales leaders tool kit to ensure you clearly communicate where success lies both individually and as a team.  By incenting the behaviors and outcomes, salespeople clearly understand where they need to spend their time and effort.”

3 basic questions you should ask premium seat buyers

3 basic questions you should ask premium seat buyers
by Kirk Wakefield – July 2013

Preparation is the key to selling efficiency

Preparation is on anyone’s top 10 list of what makes successful salespeople. Successful preparation is based on asking the customer the right questions.

Knowing the right questions is one thing. But knowing the right answers can lead to more sales and more efficient selling (i.e., close ratios).

A little research

One of our NFL client partners wanted to help their sales staff get a head start in understanding individual suite rental customers in preparation for the upcoming season.  In the two weeks after the season ended we collected responses from a sample of 20% of individual decision makers from the previous season’s rental customers. Among other things, we wanted to know the answers to three basic questions and the relationship between these answers and how likely customers would be to buy again and refer others.

Three basic questions

Corporate buyers are likely to be passionate fans, but that’s not the reason they are buying. They are buying because they believe potential clients are passionate league or team fans. So, sure, it helps if they love the team. But in an NFL city, odds are most everyone locally or regionally has at least some affinity for the team. This leads to the first basic question you need answered.

Where does your business come from?

The results show the vast majority use the suite to build relationships with local (71%) and regional (84%) customers. However, those indicating they also have extensive global (37%) and national (68%) markets are significantly more likely to recommend renting suites to others, representing your best promoters and referral sources.

Know their business

If the premium buyer’s customers are primarily local and regional, promoting the team angle may be useful. But if their customers are more national or global, then we really need to ask what else influences the choice to rent a suite.

What influences which game you’d like to select?

Too many salespeople assume price is the main issue. Don’t start there.

From our sample, almost 1/3 aren’t really concerned about the price. More importantly, concern about the suite rental price had no bearing on whether or not they’d be likely to rent again next season. Statistically speaking, what did?

 

know what influences

 

The most likely return suite rental customers were those who wanted to (1) know who the opposing team was, (2) review the entire schedule when it was released, and/or (3) who were planning a special occasion.

Why are those good answers for you? Because it means they’ve already decided in favor of buying, the question is which game? Greater concern for knowing (a) the kick-off time, (b) day of the game, or (c) the price had no influence one way or the other on likelihood of using a suite the next season.

The upshot is that if you focus efforts on prospects in a true-decision making mode (team, schedule, occasion), your close ratio should be higher.

Compared to other options, how would leasing a suite from us help you win business?

We aren’t the only game in town. Our clients can entertain in other sports & entertainment venues. The heart of this question is what is it about leasing from us that helps meet your objectives?

know why buy

What we see from our study is it’s not what you think. Most don’t think leasing a suite guarantees closing a business deal.

The big insight is that a suite offers the best chance the invitation will be accepted and won’t fall through. What your clients really want is just to make sure they have a chance to close a deal.

What’s the worst fear when we throw a party? The people we wanted to come don’t show up. It’s been the same since high school; now we’re just playing for different stakes.

A second big insight is predicting who will be our best promoters and source of referrals. The ability to predict a client’s NPS (Net Promoter Score) is highest among those who strongly believe the suite provides the best return on objective (i.e., the chance to sell) and is the best choice for doing so in the market (viz., “differentiator in the customer entertainment universe”).

Conclusion: Act

Premium sales isn’t as simple as asking these three basic questions, but it sure helps. The key is in preparation. Teams like those who commissioned this research know that knowledge is power. Now let’s go get some.

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