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  • Brett Zalaski

When to Negotiate in #SportsBiz Sales


Had an MLS season ticket sales rep write into the website with the following question:


'Loved the article on negotiating vs. objection handling. You gave a good example of negotiating on the 'time' objection. How would that look for other important objections like money, team performance, etc.?'


As a reminder from that article, the essence was that once you handle an objection, if the client doubles down on it (says it's still a problem) it's time to negotiate with the client, because we never want to argue with a client.


For example, if the client says 'My schedule is crazy,' and we handle the objection using our very special 4-part plan created exactly for clients like them, and they are still uncomfortable about attending that many games...it's time to reduce the number of games.


The goal is not to jam a ticket product down the throat of the client that YOU think is right, it's to put them in a comfortable ticket package that THEY think is right. You don't have to buy it...they do.


From that article, here's how the negotiating on the time objection might sound:


I can appreciate that the amount of games in the plan is still an issue, Brett. How about this? Instead of season tickets this year, let's go with a half-season plan. It will get you coming out more regularly, but will also be half the commitment, time and money, you're worried about. As you get used to coming out more frequently, we can then talk about season tickets for 2023. How does that sound?


So what can it sound like to negotiate on the money objection? Remember that a ticket package consists of number of tickets, seat location, and number of games...so we can reduce cost by impacting any of those. So here's what I would ask:


Appreciate that money is still an challenge for you. Which of these is LEAST important to you as you think about a ticket package with us; the number of tickets in your plan, the number of games in your plan, or where you sit in the stadium?


What if they continue to double down on living too far from the stadium? Remember this is the cousin of the time objection, so the lever to pull is the amount of games.


I can see that the travel remains an issue for you. How about this? Instead of a season ticket this year, we focus on getting you out a LITTLE more frequently than you have. Let's have you do the half season plan this year, and we can look out to season tickets for 2023 once you get used to coming more often.


And what if someone just won't let up on team performance, specifically how bad your team is? Remember that we can't over-talk these people. They've got their minds made up. If we say we're good and we're bad, then we're lying. They won't trust us. So what can we do? Re-frame! Here's how:


Listen, Brett, I've got to talk with fans like you all day, so I can promise no one wants this team to win more than I do. It seems like you've got a long history of coming out to games with your family and friends, and I'd hate to see those special moments with them end because we aren't winning this year. Is it more important to you that we win, or more important to share really cool experiences at our stadium with people you care about?


If they say it's team performance to that? F**k 'em. They weren't buying no matter what you did.


My definition of negotiating in sales is 'choosing to respect when a client double or triples down on an objection.' Sometimes the issue is the issue. Instead of solving for that, especially when we already tried, it's important we step back and work with our client on a solution they are comfortable with.