New Self-Prospecting Tips
'Self-prospecting' is one of the great buzz words in sports sales. And well it should. Self-prospected leads close at a higher rate, close for more money, and tend to generate more referrals. They do that because of the energy you take to them, and the story you're able to tell when you catch them. It's the reason hunting sales generate over a billion dollars a year in the US. The 'thrill of the hunt' is as true in sports as it is in the woods!
All that said, most sales reps take the traditional approach to self-prospecting. Write the name of a new company as you're driving by here, see a 'Best Places to Work' list there, see a business article here, or have a friend who gives you a lead there. These are all more traditional...but there are tons of other ways to successfully self-prospect. Here are a few of the most successful I've seen in sports business:
1. Sell What Your Friends/Family Do: My best friend works in wealth management. I sold wealth management companies incredibly well. Why? I had a story to tell, I knew what they did, and I knew how they could use tickets. My parents and brother worked/work in education. I worked very well with educational programs. Wonder why? Look for those industries that you are closely tied to. My guess is that your market will have plenty...and then dive in! You'll be shocked the success that follows.
2. Who's Buying Your Sport?: Most companies that invest in sports have offices all over the country. Do you work for a G-League team? Look at all the sponsors of the other G-League teams, the other NBA teams, local youth basketball leagues, local high school and college teams, etc. This may sound crazy, but if those companies are spending money on basketball...they may just spend more money on basketball. Soccer (now NBA) is one of the best examples of this. Reach out to the jersey partner companies on the nights their partner is coming in to the building. My guess is that they have a presence in your market.
3. Double Down on Your Successes: Sometimes we sell to a company...yea! Often times when we do this, we do it in one specific area. The business development department buys season tickets...the HR department gets a group outing...the client services department buys a hospitality space for their top clients...etc. etc. etc. Here's the thing...most companies have all those departments. If you sell to one of them and show them value, ask about the others! My two biggest clients when I worked in Columbus both grew from selling one department and morphing out from there. One company started with hospitality nights and ended up with a full partnership and season tickets on top of keeping the hospitality nights. The other started with regular season tickets, and ended up with premium season tickets, a group outing, and a hospitality night. This happened not because they thought of it...it happened because I asked!
I love this quote from Frank Zappa because I think if we can move past general thoughts on self-prospecting, and look at it as an art, we'll be FAR more successful doing it. Whether you like it or not, you, ticket salesperson, are an artist. Use the methods above, create your own self-prospecting methods, steal from others (like Allen Schlesinger)...but think like an artist, just as a salesperson!