4 key differences in the group sales and premium sales processes

by ashley hall - sr director of premium sales and service at the la galaxy | January 09, 2020

It’s common to see high achieving group sales reps make their next stop in premium sales. While there are plenty of similarities between group and premium sales, here are four ways to think of group sales and premium sales in contrast while considering your next career step.

1. Who you are trying to sell

When selling groups, salespeople typically call whoever is likely to be the group leader. That could be the youth league president, activities coordinator, or Chamber of Commerce events planner, the idea is to get the person who will be making the event happen on the phone or into a meeting. This person understands what goes into planning a group night, or at least understands what their group is looking for. Mostly, these people are happy to hear from sports teams like yours. Making the calls and having great conversation with these people is just easier. Even if the sale never comes to fruition, these are the types of prospects who are readily available for meetings and calls, and they are happy to chat it up.

In premium, salespeople can reach out to a variety of contacts at a company. Really, anyone with budget to spend might be a candidate for a premium purchase (although client facing departments like sales and marketing are usually the best). These conversations are more challenging to get started because as soon as a seller says they're calling from a sports team, the prospect knows it’s a sales call and isn’t as excited to talk. Sports ticket purchasing isn’t usually central to their business and they weigh the priority of talking to a salesperson versus their other daily responsibilities. In fact, just getting to a conversation may take several emails, calls, and texts. Then, when you’ve won your original contact over, almost inevitably, there is more than one person who will need to agree to the purchase which means there are always more people to sell.

2. Why they are buying

Group buyers usually purchase to provide some kind of added value to their group members, gain exposure for their organization, or fundraise by reselling the tickets. These buyers want to have an amazing event, usually one time in a season. Group sales often hinge on the fulfillment of the group fan experience. The reason a group salesperson calls, is because they have an idea of how a particular group could use one of their experiences, whether its the playing field for youth, interaction with players, or cause awareness and appreciation for their organization(s). The centerpiece of these sales is community.

Premium buyers are looking to have many memorable experiences over the course of the season with a variety of different guests. Even if their purchase is for personal use, a client who invests in a premium product is expecting multiple opportunities to entertain and reward. While they may not get to have a unique interaction with the team on every occasion, the client does want to feel important and special. This is a key to building a premium product: ensuring that the experience is seamless and feels bespoke for every guest, every time.

3. How much it costs

The biggest difference between group and premium sales is the price of the products. Not only are premium memberships more expensive overall, but groups tend to be positioned around a "per ticket" price whereas premium products are often "all-in" prices. Think, “that will be $15 a ticket” compared to “the premium package is $50,000 annually.” While it may seem intimidating at first, the value of both products is usually quite good. Rather than looking at price alone, salespeople should understand all of their offerings well enough to be able to justify the investment. Group sales typically include a nice benefit or experience, but Premium sales are also loaded with additional perks that once sellers and clients are aware of, it makes it much easier to discuss. It's not simply the same product for more money. It's the “next level” of product. Additionally, the people who are considering premium entertainment are accustomed to paying more for a better experience. Premium buyers are certainly price conscious but not because they don't have the money, it's that they want to spend it in the most responsible and justifiable way to show positive ROI.

The biggest challenge in premium is learning to simply state the premium prices without hesitation or apology. The best ways to become comfortable doing this is to discuss the product benefits with your colleagues and practice saying the prices aloud. Additionally, do not shy away from the discussion of price. If we avoid it, the looming reveal of price weighs on our minds and is a distraction from the conversation. Business is run on transactions so embrace the fact that money is a central part of what will make the deal work, and there is nothing to hide. Premium products are designed to appeal to people with an eye for the finer things. It's appropriate for the price to reflect that and for the sales executives to feel proud of what they are selling.

4. What it takes to get the sale 

The real sale in groups is to the members within the group, usually not the group leader themselves. Getting that "yes" from the central figure is necessary but that isn't what makes the sale a success. Once the champion is discovered, they are usually on board and excited about the event. As salespeople, we must find ways to make the group sale appealing and accessible to everyone within the group. This means working with the group leader to create an event on a date that works, with an experience that draws guests, at a price that is within an expected range, and there must be an easy-to-use buying process. These details may vary between a heritage night, youth sports group, or alumni event, but they are vital to the success of the group sale.

For premium sales, the sales work is communicating to the buyers what they can expect, how their purchase will work, and all the aspects that make a premium product worth the investment. Most premium buyers want a product that will help them build relationships so the sales process must be an effective demonstration of how things might work for them on game night, through a combination of meetings and entertaining them face to face. The service team will step in to ensure clients are making the most of their investment once the sale is complete. However, the salespeople often build such great relationships during the sales process, they remain friends with their clients. This all takes some time and it’s common to feel like nothing is happening at all... but it is. Remember, in premium it takes patience and persistence to see these sales through, but they're worth it in the end.

Every ticket sales product is different. What are some differences or similarities you've seen in your ticket sales products?

Ashley

Ashley Hall has been in the sports business for 13 years. The majority of her experience has been with the LA Clippers where she was for 10+ years. In that role she gained experience in general ticketing, group sales, analytics, corporate sponsorship, service and leadersihp. Two years ago she transitioned over to the LA Galaxy in MLS. She started as the Director of Premium, but has since grown to oversee both Premium Sales and Service. She's always open to helping others and you can learn more about Ashley by visiting her LinkedIN profile here.