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.
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?
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?
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”).
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.