A lot of time when I am talking with sports business professionals in the States, I am still amazed at how the sales model in too many places relies on things that aren’t necessarily supportive of driving attendance, selling in a modern sales environment, or achieving a relationship with the customer that can lead from single ticket buyer to season ticket or plan holder.
You may know some of these tactics that are less effective but still prominent like:
- Cold calling with no rhyme or reason or pattern
- Always be closing high-pressure sales tactics
- One size fits none pitches
All of these things are likely to dig your inside sales team into a deeper hole than you may already find yourself in, but they are also indicative of several larger scale, strategic issues that need to be fixed before we can expect our sales teams to be as effective as they need to be.
1. Lack of full cycle marketing efforts:
The promise of digital marketing was that advertisers would be able to better manage their marketing and advertising efforts because they would know exactly what was producing results and what wasn’t.
In theory, this would enable an organization to better target “buyers” and eliminate the waste in their marketing spend.
The challenge is that just focusing on direct marketing efforts through digital marketing had the unintended impact of making many things that didn’t benefit from commoditization into commodities.
This had the benefits of undercutting many businesses that benefited from long-term brand building, relationship building, and had an intangible value derived from the connections they developed with their markets.
In sports business, we have seen this play out in the manner that fans have become more prone to waiting until the last minute to buy tickets, creating an environment where the game can often seem like a secondary entertainment option than the unique experience any live performance is.
A shift in perspective would require teams to spend more time and energy building and growing a wider fan base of fans at all levels of the fan cycle from dedicated fans that the authors of Soccernomics call “Hornbys” (fans that are die-hard!) all the way to fans that haven’t quite figured out who or what they really even expect from a fan.
Total marketing experience would focus on creating a fan path that had eventualities and emphases on putting fans through a full path from unaware to Hornby.
2. Failing to ask the magic question: “What does our customer find valuable?”
I will admit that I am often amazed at what people find valuable and part of my business is helping people walk through that process all the time.
But one of the big challenges that threaten the success of any organization is losing sight of what their customers view as valuable.
Peter Drucker made asking a variation of this question one of his 5 essential questions and my challenge to most organizations is how often are you really walking through and thinking about this question.
If you ask this question often enough, you are likely to be surprised by the answers you uncover.
These answers are going to help your inside sales team because they are likely to open the door to better ways to position your tickets, better ways to offer value and better conversations based on the world that your customers are seeing and not the world that you hoped they’d see.
3. Overcoming the fear of change to allow room to test and learn how new tools, technologies, and tactics can create opportunities:
One of my big words for the new year is Kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that is meant to convey constant business improvement.
I’ve taken a Kaizen approach to all aspects of my life, but when you are dealing with many businesses, the idea of embracing the new or being focused on constant improvement can be a bit scary.
Certainly, teams will bring in sales trainers, but sales trainers that are meant to reinforce the way they’ve always done things.
Certainly, teams will talk about embracing new technologies, but often not nearly as quickly as necessary or in a manner that actually produces impact.
The key to using new tools, technologies, and tactics is to put the focus on outcomes.
What do you need the new tool to achieve?
If it is a CRM tool or a digital marketing technology, what would success look like for you?
If you are going to use social media as a prospecting tool, are you asking what would be meaningful for your prospects before you use it?
Or, are you just posting photos of tie-clippings, culture awards, and discounts?
The key to using change as a positive is to help your inside sales team achieve better results is by giving your inside sellers room to test out new ideas, measure how much of an impact they have, see if they have room to be implemented team wide, and be willing to recognize that some of these tools, technologies, and tactics aren’t going to be successful, but that failing is part of the improvement and innovation cycle.
Here’s the key, without embracing the new, you will get the same results you’ve always achieved.
If you don’t recognize that the value your customer receives from you is different than what you might find valuable and that customer tastes are always changing, you will constantly be at a disadvantage.
Finally, if you don’t put emphasis into marketing in a comprehensive manner, no amount of new sales reps, cold calling, or training is likely to help you overcome the void that poor marketing creates.
What say you?
Let me know in the comments below.