4 ways to make an impact during these unique times
by Lowell Berg – Director, Ticket Sales & Services – University of Texas Athletics | April 13, 2020
To say these are unique times for us all right now is certainly an understatement. As my direct report, Drew Martin, has said to us multiple times; there’s no handbook for this. Most of us have never lived through a similar situation in our careers. We’re learning together. So take what you like from the below; ignore what doesn’t resonate, listen to what others are sharing, and take the best advice you get from all that and run with it.
As I settle into my work-from-home environment, here are a few tips I’ve learned thus far for ticket sales representatives looking to demonstrate value and make an impact. Many of these transcend our current times.
1. Be positive
This may be the golden rule in ticket sales, regardless of the day, week, or year. In our current environment, keep in mind how intertwined sport is in the daily lives of many people. At some point, sport will bring us back together. The first event back will likely create one of the most euphoric experiences we’ve ever been a part of – it will be a can’t-miss event.
While today may not be the most appropriate time to ask for the sale, what are we doing today to build relationships with our fans and their businesses so that when we are ready to let sport bring us back together, we can capitalize? We’re going to get rejected… stay positive, find the silver lining in each ‘no’, and stay focused on being the best that we can be on a regular basis.
2. Put ourselves in the customer’s shoes
How do we think our prospects are feeling when they see an unrecognizable phone number call them? The NY Times estimated our current unemployment rate to be close to 13%. If that’s correct, one in every ten people we call will be jobless. Tell them that we hope they’re doing okay. Tell them we hope they’re staying safe. Show empathy; show them that we are a human too. Express gratitude for their support as a past buyer or season ticket holder. Ask how their overall experience was.
It’s perfectly okay, in my opinion, to be transparent. We may not know when our team will resume play, but we want to be a resource for them. If today isn’t the day to ask for the sale, what sale can we earn on that call? Is it a referral to a decision maker? Is it a virtual meeting to build out an ideal group theme night? Have a goal in mind, LISTEN, adjust that goal, and finish our calls by achieving something. Don’t be afraid to ask what our teams can do to help them or their business right now. That simple gesture can create a lifelong fan.
3. Focus on the industry’s that might yield the most return on our investment
I spent some time today calling Churches in our area with one of my teammates, Will Cochran. While we both were likely hesitant to pick up the phone and call someone that has cancelled services, postponed social events, closed operations, and seen a dip in funding, I couldn’t have been more excited about our progress when we hung up the phone.
We were able to empathize with group leaders, laugh about how we wish we could just watch some sports in-person, ask what we could do to help, and gain referrals to decision makers. What groups or businesses are being pushed to their limits to serve our populations? Doctors, grocery store employees, First Responders, and parents (yes, parents!) are a few easy ones. At some point, these heroes deserve all of the recognition in the world. Our sports teams should recognize these folks, but if we can’t control that, their employers likely will. If we can build relationships with them now, we can make sure they are recognized at our sporting events.
4. Provide feedback to our leadership teams
Our executive teams may be in meetings putting together recommendations on what they could do to make it easy for fans to support their teams during these difficult times. However, as I mentioned early on, there’s no handbook for selling during COVID-19. What’s stopping us from providing feedback to them directly from the fans? In my opinion, the best businesses in the world let the customers lead and innovate.
Do we need to be more flexible on payment plans? Do customers care about seat location or do they just want a seat in the building? Are hard copy tickets still going into scrapbooks or should we use mobile tickets to provide more flexible payment schedules? What assets are free to us that can be leveraged to drive sales? This information can help a team make data driven decisions based on what fans want, spur innovation, and delight customers that we took the time to actually listen to their feedback.
These are unique times for all of us. The above are just a few tips that came to mind as I face the same challenges we’re all facing… and we are all facing them. Take some time to re-connect with your network, build some new connections, and listen to what they’re saying. We’re all in this together, and we’ll all get through this together. When that first home event rolls around and we re-open the palatial front doors of the arenas and stadia we’re lucky enough to call our offices, it will all be worth it. Be positive, be a human, be smart about where to spend our time, and don’t be afraid to speak up and provide feedback directly from the fans.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think! @LowellBBerg
Lowell Berg is the Director of Ticket Sales & Services with the University of Texas Athletics department. He oversees sales and customer service for 7 different ticketed sports, and has been in sales management since 2014, when he took over as General Manager of Ticket Sales at Penn State University at age 24. His team has broken attendance records for Texas Football, Texas Baseball, and Texas Softball in the last two and a half years. Prior to working in-house for the University of Texas, Lowell spent five years working with IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions at Syracuse University and Penn State. In his time with IMG Learfield, he was named Salesperson of the Year (2013), Sales Trainer of the Year (2016), and led his teams to Group Sales Property of the Year three different times (2012, 2014, 2015). He’s a proud Ohio University alum, and is open to connect as a new member of our mentorship program. You can set up a mentorship call with Lowell in theClubhouse here.