For the better part of the last 50 years, attending sporting events has always been a unifying gathering – averse to national and even global tragedies. After 9/11 and the countless horrific school shootings, sports has always been that medium to gather people together to celebrate, rejoice and overcome. However, this time around, sports has met its Achilles heel in the form of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As I try to put my thoughts from pen to paper, I don’t think it has fully sunk in that sports leagues have come to a screeching halt. The one quote that comes to my mind in a situation like this is Herb Brooks from the 1980 Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice”, “Great moments are born from great opportunity…”
For any new sales reps starting out in the industry, or established sales rep that may be joining a new organization, or the senior sales leaders and management that may be looking for ways to keep their teams focused and productive; this is the “Great Opportunity” in front of us right now.
Here is what we’re doing in Phoenix with the Coyotes that I hope other teams can use to positively impact their sales process:
1. Technology and communication
Technology is an essential tool for all us. We’re accustomed to attending meetings with tablets, answering emails on our phones and taking part in Skype/Zoom calls. Now, thankfully, the power of technology has allowed us at the Coyotes to IM and conduct our morning daily briefings as if we were all still in the office thanks to the Microsoft Teams app. Being in sales has also been a job that has required us to be self-sufficient and self-motived, but ultimately, we are all chasing down the same goal of Season Ticket Memberships. As good as the technology might be, there can also be some drawbacks to working from home and not having the compliment of your normal set-up in the office. For instance, I am not provided with a company laptop and therefore I am fortunate to own and be using my personal MacBook Pro, but it isn’t compatible with the Ticketmaster Archtics software. In sum, communication is key to ensure we can proceed as business as normal despite some abnormalities in the day-to-day routine.
2. Approaching customers
Our main focus thus far has been maintaining strong relationships with current clients, as they are our biggest supporters. This consists of thorough communication via phone calls, Zipwhip (texting) and emails to provide updates on the season (even if there might not be one), with the underlying purpose to build the trust between the rep and the client. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about your clients that you might not have known thus far, which can lead to referrals and cross-selling opportunities down the road. Having an untapped pipeline will pay dividends in the future.
3. Empathy and sympathy
There is a difference between ‘empathy’ and ‘sympathy’ and I had a glaring realization that most people didn't understand the separation between the two (don’t feel bad if you don’t). Empathy is feeling the client’s pain and putting yourself in their shoes. Sympathy is acknowledging the client’s pain, but not communicating that you feel it with them. I’ve always believed that a good sales rep is the ones who empathizes with their clients and makes the relationship feel natural and organic.
4. For the new sales reps
- Stay the course! At a time like this, it can be easy to second-guess if you made the right career decision. For many new and junior sales reps, the biggest piece of advice is continuing to show the value you bring to the role. Many new and junior reps set themselves apart by leading in calls or talk time in a week. When calls and talk time may be hard to show now, set yourself apart by being organized with documents and emails, lead the team in new idea creation, or be willing to lend a hand at a moment’s notice on some of the smaller tasks.
Best of luck out there and see you all on the court, field, ice, or course (hopefully) very soon!
Justin Peterson is a Senior Business Development Account Executive in the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes. He's been with the organization for nearly 5 years and has grown from a seasonal sales person to a successful sales executive. He graduated from Grand Canyon University and has been in the sports business since 2015. You can learn more about Justin by reaching out to him on LinkedIN here.