Similarities Between Getting Sold-Out Sporting Event Tickets, and Making Sales

I’m a sports nut. Whenever I travel to a city I typically check the schedules of whatever pro or college team of any sport to see what I might be able to attend. Also, my friends and family are well aware that I’m pretty good at getting great tickets to games by paying less than face value–even at sold-out events. It’s kind of a game and a challenge, one I usually succeed at. And it’s pretty much sales, just like many human interactions are. Let’s look at some of the sales points we can learn from acquiring tickets to sporting events.

Don’t just wish for opportunities. I see other ticketless people outside stadiums and arenas, walking up to scalpers, paying inflated, crazy prices. They wander around aimlessly, hoping they’ll bump into some tickets at a fair price. My “secret” is finding regular people who have extra tickets, but would prefer to sell them to someone respectable-looking (OK, somewhat, anyway) who will use the tickets himself instead of reselling them and gouging someone else. Therefore I know I must advertise my desire and create opportunities by holding my hand up in the air and saying, “I need tickets.” A big part of sales is simply making the calls. Are you just wishing for sales? Are you creating enough opportunities for yourself?

Don’t be afraid of risk. Every time we make a sales call we put our self at risk of not accomplishing what we desire … or of tongue tying ourselves into the ground, appearing to be blithering fools (by some people’s definitions, anyway.) And to some, I look like a goofball walking around with one, two, or more fingers thrust into the air (people sometimes tell me so). And there are always the people who see two fingers extended and say, “Peace man, ha, ha, ha.” So creative, they are. I couldn’t care less. I know if I want tickets, this is what I need to do. My desire for tickets is much greater than any possible concern I have for what other people think. Bottom line, don’t be afraid of risk. Better yet, change your definitions of what you might be afraid of. So what if you get a “no”? Reframe that to, “At least I tried, and got a decision.”

Believe that you can. Some sales reps totally avoid certain types of prospects and calls because they don’t think they’ll be successful. I laugh when I see media reports of tickets to some high-profile games and events going for outrageous prices. That’s good, I say, because it keeps my competition away. I’ve gotten into the seventh game of a World Series, the Final Four championship game, The Masters, NBA and Major League Baseball All-Star Games, NFL and NHL playoff games, opening night of a Rolling Stones tour … and many others where the media said tickets couldn’t be had for less than quadruple face value. I paid face value and under at each of those events. I knew I’d pull it off before I even got to the venue. And I especially love it when a fast-talking scalper will ask me what I’m looking to pay, and I tell him “face or less” and he tells me I’m crazy. I always respond by saying “I’ll see you inside.” If you believe you’re beat before you even try, it’s always a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Questions are your tools. As I always say, ask questions, listen, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to structure a good deal. I often find that people have extra tickets because they got them free from their company, friends couldn’t show up at the last minute, and/or they are afraid of selling tickets above face value for fear of getting arrested. Naturally, this is all good information for me. The more you know, the more you can tailor an attractive recommendation that addresses their needs and concerns.

Don’t show desperation. I’ve seen sales reps so desperate for sales, they are quick to cut price, or don’t realize the full potential of a sale because they try to wrap it up early before they thoroughly develop the problem and their solution. Likewise, my kids know when they are with me, and I’m dealing with ticket sellers, that we don’t jump at the first tickets we see. They know now, quite well after years of watching me, that they are NOT to say, “Dad, just buy those!”, since of course the sellers could use that to their advantage. Now they’re part of the team, saying, “Let’s go Dad, we can probably do better.” Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it’s not win-win.

Ask, and ask often. It’s such a simple principle You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Lots of sales people leave money on the table simply because they don’t ask for the business. In negotiating for tickets, I don’t want to cause someone to lose money, but I will typically ask for a very favorable deal. Most often I get it.

BOLA TANGKAS