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  • Brett Zalaski

Mega-Sizing Groups

In a #sportsbiz landscape that's been increasingly defined by empty seats, group sales is the solution that many teams look to to create big solutions in a shorter timeline. Most teams have group minimums between 10-20, and, ultimately, that's the majority of what group sales reps churn out...groups of 10-20. It takes a LOT of 10's-20's to make a real impact...and those 10's-20's, who have little skin in the game, tend to renew at very low percentages.


Reps do also have a lot of consistent group sales clients at higher numbers than that, too. The problem with those groups is that many see decreases year-on-year because events seem to lose steam when they're done the same way every year. Just like the 10's-20's, the decrease in specific groups (not to mention losing some big groups completely) puts a vicious dent in a rep's ability to create consistent group sales success.


Where am I going with this? Two specific places:

  1. We need to maximize every group opportunity that makes a decision to work with us.

  2. We need to constantly innovate and add to our group pipeline. Like, not weekly, daily.

So, let's tackle both of these...

Maximizing: First, let's define maximizing. Maximizing is ensuring that we get every possible person and dollar that we can out of those groups that are connected to us. This can be done by creating a more nuanced group event, adding value to the package, or working with the price point to ensure maximum revenue (both up and down). Can you maximize your group of 100 to 1,000? Can you maximize your group that spends $10,000 to generate $25,000? Here are some ways to do just that:

  • You know your stadium, they know their constituency. A lot of times we think we need to be the ones who need to say what the group event will be. This is patently wrong. The first, and most important, question to ask them is 'You know your constituents best, what would get them to come to a soccer match?' Only then should you apply the solution from your stadium.

  • Momentum is critical. If it's a link deal, or they're taking orders, what have you put in place to ensure interest in the group jumps at the start? A fan experience? A price break? A piece of merchandise? We know how big a group's legs are within 24 hours. If people jump, we've got something. If no one jumps, it's going to be a slog. You know your resources...what can you deploy to get them to jump?

  • Get a fan involved. There has to be a fan of your team in the office. At the very least, a fan of your sport. Incentivize that fan (or, better yet, fans) to help start that momentum. Can you invite them to a suite for a game if they help get the group to a certain number? An on-field experience at the game? Ask during your initial meeting who the biggest fan in the group is, and, then, your conversation with that fan will help spark the idea here...so just do it.


Innovation: So here's my take on innovating in group sales...and it's a controversial one. You need to take the Adam Dunn approach. The who, what? Adam Dunn was a power hitter most notably known for his time with the Reds and Nationals. Almost every time Dunn came to the plate, he did one of three things...home run, walk, or strikeout. And he struck out. A lot. He's also 37th on the MLB all-time home run list and 42nd on the MLB all-time walks list. He also made almost $113 million in his career. He swung hard, missed big, connected big, and took the walks when they came. That's how a great group sales rep attacks innovation. They aim big all the time. Not just in off-season planning, but they constantly innovate with the 1,000 person group, or the high $ group in mind. They take the 10, 20, or 50 person groups as they show up or renew, but remain focused on hitting home runs...and don't worry about striking out. Here's two great things about striking out, too. Worst case? You learn and don't make the same mistake again. Best case? You aim for 1,000...you get 250. That's still a good group!


So how do we maximize our time as group sales reps? We maximize every opportunity we get, and we innovate constantly to hit home runs. It takes a LOT of singles to make $113 million. It takes WAY less homers. Just ask Adam Dunn.