Posted by: johnocunningham | June 24, 2013

Do You Have an Active or Passive Sales Culture?

One of the highlights of the recently concluded 10th annual RainDance conference of the Legal Sales and Service Organization (“LSSO”) was the keynote address by Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham.

He demonstrated to attendees how the Celtics went from a cellar-dwelling team to a perennial contender, reminiscent of their winning traditions of the last millennium by transforming from a passive sales culture to an active one.

In basketball, as in law, the approach to sales used to be passive – you sit and wait for demand at the box office, and then respond to it.

But the Celtics took a totally different approach that other teams are now imitating. They re-established Celtic Pride by moving away from a belief that you must win to sell tickets, and by embracing the notion that you can sell tickets to win (building a fan base and a revenue base that justifies the investment in higher-salaried players).

In the new active sales culture, the Celtics targeted corporations, community organizations and families, offering them innovative ticket packages and chances to appear on the floor, or talk to the players and otherwise engage with the Celtics organization.

The Celtics not only hired a team of sales professionals to identify and call upon potential purchasers of tickets, they used regression analysis and other sophisticated techniques to determine the optimal pricing for various types of seats (to get the most attendance and revenue) and the optimal timing of ticket releases to the public (for best price and demand). They also came up with a vastly greater number of price points to optimize attendance and sales, varying their ticket prices according to day or night game times, days or nights of the week, quality of opponents, and other variables.

Furthermore, they surveyed their ticket holders in person about the game experience, the concessions, and the service. Not only did they survey them in person, they did so by means of “seat visits” during the games, often sending down a well-known ambassador of the organization (including former players) to ask people how they like their seats, their meals and drinks, the prices, and the overall game experience. They also asked for ideas about how it could be made better.

The result was that the Celtics started selling out even before they started winning lots of games again, and one year after they had one of the worst records in the NBA, they signed Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen  and some key role players to bring home the Celtics’ 18th championship banner.

So when you look at the Celtics’ example, you might ask yourself: “Is my organization built on an active or passive sales and service culture?”


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