Sports Activation Advantage

Activation Sales

The best activation happens when you get the prospect to your stadium. Once they see it, they begin to imagine the results possible through the sports product. It’s no different than the perception sold to the athletes on the field.

In Major League Baseball, the home team wins about 54% of its games. Home team fans go home happy in the NFL about 57% of the time. In the NBA, that number is closer to 60%.

In sports, some believe home field or home court advantage is merely a matter of perception. In sales, perception is reality.

Home Field Advantage Activation

Recently I was reminded about the value of home field advantage in sports sales. I met with the owner of a local automotive services group. His company repairs windshields, fixes fender benders, and sells cars too. For the convenience of the owner and his team, we scheduled the meeting at his office.

On the day of the meeting I sat down with the owner and his key staff in their conference room and we conversed about the many ways they could use our team to get results. We discussed their unique value proposition, the value that our tickets and sponsorships deliver, and the specific ways they could use our brand of family fun to connect with prospective customers.

The Essence Of The Experience

After an hour we had made some progress. We had a few rough ideas about our next steps, but we hadn’t struck up a partnership…yet. My presentation materials were professional. The photos we selected were sharp and captured the essence of the ballpark experience. The activation cannot be felt at this point. There’s no experience that can be provided in a solitary meeting. The overall dialogue was positive, but something was missing. They hadn’t said yes.

Sensing that they weren’t sold, I invited the owner and two key staffers to the ballpark for a brief tour later that same day. That’s where the activation came in. Because activation creates imagination about what is possible. We walked around the stadium and they had the opportunity to experience the environment firsthand for themselves. The owner and his key staff had been to games before and seen the ballpark in its full, mid-season, carnival-like state. Until they were walking through the concourses and sitting in our seats though, they couldn’t fully connect the dots. They only had part of the picture.

Creating The Commitment

About halfway through the tour, the owner started asking questions that could best be described as buying signals. How much does it cost? What’s the best available location? It only took about 15 minutes inside the ballpark for the owner to commit to the key components of a new, multi-year partnership agreement.

Meeting at your prospect’s place of business is a commonly extended courtesy, and it’s a practice reinforced by sales reps in other industries. We need to insist on being different.

Immerse The Prospect In Your Environment

As sales reps, we know our product. We even know how to dig deeper when we hear objections about budgets, weather and team performance. At times though, we underestimate just how little our prospects truly understand about our teams, leagues, players and sports. We can paint our best and most vivid pictures with words, photos, and video, but there’s no substitute for immersing your prospect in the environment itself.

Even the most die-hard, committed fans aren’t completely in tune with a team’s full array of ticket offerings, sponsored programs, and community outreach efforts. If you’re introducing your team to a new prospect, the learning curve is beyond steep. Invite your prospect to your stadium or arena. Let them know that other clients have found it beneficial, and perhaps even more efficient, to meet on your home turf.

If your customer can personally observe the majestic view from the party deck or cozy up in a club seat, you’ll close more deals. So be conscious about your choices and you too may find that you win more often at home.

Greg Coleman

Greg Coleman is the President of the Erie Seawolves of Minor League Baseball's Eastern League, a Double-A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Coleman will be teaching "Engaging Sports Marketing Sales Tactics" at the Sports Sales Boot Camp in Pittsburgh on June 28, 2016.

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