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  • Brett Zalaski

GROUP SALES MONTH: The Adam Dunn Approach to Group Sales


Group Sales Month on Empowerment of a Salesperson is sponsored by FEVO. FEVO is a sales amplification tool used by industry leading pro sports teams, colleges, and festivals. For more information check out FEVO.com.


I've touched on this topic before...and now I want to dive all the way in. Adam Dunn, if you don't know him, was a professional baseball player for 13 MLB seasons. He made over $112 million dollars in his career and was consistently was one of the highest paid players of his era, while only making two All-Star Games. Adam Dunn got paid because he was a threat to hit a home run EVERY time he came to the plate. He's 37th on the All-Time Home Run list despite being 242nd in career games played.


In his career, Dunn walked (1,317 times), struck out (2,379 times), or hit a home run (462 times) in an astonishing 49.9% of his plate appearances. Mike Trout, known for being an awesome player and threat, who will also strike out, has only done it 41.3% of the time. That's bonkers. He basically created the baseball phrase 'Three True Outcome Player.'


As we really focus on new business development on the group side, we need to start thinking about ourselves as Adam Dunn. How can we start this mindset? Think about the math. If your goal is 20,000 group tickets in a year, it would take 1,000 groups of 20 to hit your goal. You don't have enough time in your year to do that. You'd literally have to close 2.7 groups per day...including weekends and holidays. Yet, it would only take 20 groups of 1,000 to reach that target. You can absolutely accomplish that. While the reality of what your book of business will look like is somewhere in between, that shouldn't stop you from aiming HUGE when you look to add new opportunities to your book of business.


In the first article of group sales month, on time management, we discussed that 25% of your year should be spent prospecting. That 25% should be spent prospecting like Adam Dunn. Every time Adam Dunn walked to the plate, he was trying to hit a home run. Because of that approach he would strike out (aim for a big group and get told 'no'). Because he aimed big, he was also feared by opposing pitchers and would be forced to take some walks (aim for a big group, close a smaller group in the process). And because of that approach, only 36 other players in the history of baseball hit more homers than him (aim for a big group and connect). You can't hit a home run if you walk to the plate looking to hit a single...but you can hit singles when you walk to the plate looking to hit home runs.


While prospecting new groups, spend the bulk of that time researching and aiming for groups that will make a significant impact on your business. Why call a marketing company of 20 people when you can call a staffing firm of 2,000? Why focus your Rescue Animal Night on one shelter when you can include 10 of them? Why continue to see your team's 5k night lose numbers each year when you can partner with the Glow Run or Zombie Run and get thousands of people? Think big, act big, and try to hit home runs. They'll make a significant impact on your business.


But, Brett, what happens when I reach them? How can I ensure that I maximize this opportunity? I did an autopsy on the biggest groups that I was a part of and found two major commonalities:

  1. Hook: Every one of those groups had a hook to them to attract the non-sports fans. They had a speaker, a hat, an incentive, an experience, etc...something beyond just a price discount that enticed people who weren't a fan of that sport to come. A fan who doesn't like a sport will not go to a game just because there's a discount on the ticket. They WILL go to the game to share an experience. To hit an Adam Dunn-sized home run with groups, you need to appeal everyone that the group will touch...not just the fans of your sport.

  2. Anchor: Every one of those groups also had skin in the game to start. When an organization just pushes out a link or a flier without skin in the game, the enthusiasm with which they push it out it usually pretty muted. They are doing it to check a box...not for it to be wildly successful. That said, when the company has committed something up front, or have something to lose if it doesn't work, they tend to push behind it MUCH harder. These groups have skin in the game. The first ones don't. Get your groups committed up front, or committed to an outcome, and you'll see a tremendous difference in their success.

The best group sales reps I've ever seen have a book of business that has its walks, singles, and doubles, but it has a large part of it taken up by genuine home runs. But you can't hit a home run if you don't swing for the fences consistently, and you can't hit a home run if you just expect the home run will fall on your doorstep when an opportunity arises. You need to aim for them consistently, and maximize them when you create them. Hopefully you can see how to do that through this article!