It’s keeping team owners and sales VP’s up at night – and everyone else that’s involved in professional sports. Facedwith the threat of a potential labor strike, those who are in sports ticket sales are being asked to continue to stay the course and call their prospect lists. While managers are saying “Business As Usual”, there are big challenges in making sure that the revenue stream from the sales department continues to be “Sales As Usual”.
How can sales reps approach this objection in the best possible way? Here are a few suggestions:
For renewals – Focus on the risk of losing their place in line. Season ticket holders have earned their spot in the stadium, based on the many years they’ve been a ‘member of the club’. Let them know what a shame it would be to lose all the seniority they’ve built up over the years, and to have to start from scratch with a seat location that won’t be nearly as good when they return.
Ask them if they’ve come to know the other people in their seating section. The relationships that are built as a STH can be very strong, and many people look forward to the company of those around them as much as any other part of being a seatholder. In your renewal conversations, bring up what a disappointment it would be for them to miss out on seeing those friends you’ve come to know at the games over the years. The labor situation will eventually work its way out, and when it does, you’ll be able to pick up those relationships right where they left off.
If it’s a corporate client, ask them to consider how many people have benefitted from the tickets you’ve had in the past. As competitive as the business landscape is today, relationships will continue to be a key driver of decisions being made into the future. How many relationships have they strengthened as a result of the seats they own? What opportunities might they lose if these seats aren’t there in the future? When the players and owners finally agree, they’ll want to continue to take advantage of those benefits going forward.
For new buyers – Focus on the unusual opportunity the situation represents. Just like in real estate, it’s those who see an opportunity when others are looking away that can yield the most return. In this case, it’s the seat locations that may be available based on the negative publicity that could be that diamond in the rough. If for whatever reason the teams don’t come to terms in time, let them know what your plans are to issue a full refund. It’s a guarantee that no one in real estate is making!
Point out that you’ll be locking in a price that may not be there once the agreement between owners and players is reached. The potential is always there for teams to adjust their pricing, depending on the way the CBA works out. By buying now, you’ll be guaranteeing their price for seats, and regardless what happens with the CBA, their price will be set because they took advantage of the opportunity they have with you today.
(NOTE: My regular Sports Ticket Sales Newsletter always gives several answers to some of the toughest objections in ticket sales in each issue; subscribe for free here.)
Whoever you’re calling, it’s important NOT to offer your personal opinions on either side of the negotiating table. Remember that even though you may not feel like an important cog in the big wheel of the team, you are a bona fide representative of the organization, and your ‘opinion’ may be attributed to the whole company in certain circumstances. Using “I hear you”, “I understand how you feel”, or “I can certainly see where you’re coming from” shows that you’re objectively absorbing what’s being said by the prospect without reinforcing it with your own opinion.
Customers will continue to use the labor issue as an objection not to buy. As professional sales reps, our job is to continually help our prospects focus on the things that the media doesn’t talk about that are direct benefits of being a seatholder – the memories, the experiences, the business potential, and all the things that happen to people as a result of being at the games. Whatever the outcome of the labor situation, the bottom line is that it’s a temporary situation, and chances are things will get worked out and the games will go on. If the games aren’t played for whatever reason, their money will be refunded, so it’s actually riskier for the seatholder NOT to buy today!
Don’t back down easily, help your prospects focus on the potential good of a decision to buy, and ask for the business. Now more than ever, those basics should be in play on every difficult conversation.