We’ve all had it sent to us. Different teams, different titles, but same request. Either ‘we’re having a sell-a-thon’ or ‘we are asking you to buy and donate tickets to our charities’ etc. Many teams use these as ‘ticket donations’ for group sales. But in the end, they go through their contact list and send to everyone they know, all across the country, hoping to bring in the numbers required generally for a contest. Some of us get repeatedly asked, numerous times throughout the year. So is this group selling or a plea to help sell the group tickets?
There are a number of things happening here when this type of sale – or plea – is made. Generally, it’s done to increase group sales. It’s an ‘everyone sells in the organization’ mentality in which there is a contest and everyone is required to bring in x number of sales. This takes pressure off the group sales department and ends up putting it on the rest of the company’s contact list. Second, tickets are used for donation. This takes pressure off the corporate sales department or again, the group sales department to find companies or individuals locally willing to sponsor a block of tickets for charity. Last, it tends to be a statement that the team is not hitting their goals or needs this to help try to hit their goals.
What does this say to a group sales department? Right off the bat, it tells them they need help to hit goals. Is this a motivator or de-motivator? While the focus is shifted to asking our contacts to buy blocks, we are not, as group sales people, focused on prospecting and setting meetings. Instead, we are focused on begging everyone in our contact list to buy something so we will hit our expectations.
Is this sales? Done online, on the website, it’s a donation request to the public. Done in emails or text to one’s contact list, it comes across as begging: begging to help the organization reach their goals, begging to help the individual in the contest, begging to help their charities.
What is sales? According to one dictionary, sales is a process of persuasion to get someone to take action. The process is the actual relationship building, recommending based on needs, and then exchanging the goods or services for money. In that sense, yes the online requests for help are a sales method. They are a request for everyone to be responsible to help us do our job.
What could we do instead to actually sell the groups rather than beg? Perhaps having a donation page on our site or a rep or two dedicated to a portion of their time working with businesses and individuals to donate and provide them with a reward for doing so. Create an actual sales plan with it. Know the categories of ‘who’ you will reach out to, the ‘how’ you can get people together to make this request, the ‘what’ the request will look like, the ‘when’ of the timing for this ask, the ‘where’ of the radius of people you will be asking, and the ‘why’ of the logic of doing this and the why specific groups need the tickets. Come out with a structured sales program and you will probably find a base in your community that wants to donate and often will specify for whom.
Creating an actual sales plan with the request does a couple of things: it empowers the sales rep to create a plan, prospect, and carry it out. It’s a true sales strategy. The second thing it does is give value to the program. Blasting an email out to everyone in your contact list does not do anything to make this a valid, valued sales process. Instead it screams ‘please, please, please buy from me so I can get my quota in.’ In a sense, we are feeling the pressure of what non profits feel when we ask them to sell our tickets for us as a ‘fundraiser.’ Creating a strategy and attaching it to an actual charitable program creates validity to the program and the ticket.
Next time your team decides to have everyone sell for a contest by blasting out to their entire contact list, pause a moment and ask yourself…is this actual selling or begging? Is the message I’m sending one of true charity or more a plea to help us sell tickets? Can we create a bona fide program that has a strategy and structure to this or would we rather keep going to the well?
Tickets for charity is a great idea. Begging is not. Create a strategy that can be sold to businesses and individuals in your area. Make it a program that is sold vs a plea across the country. You will find the program will have validity, respect, and grow. THIS is sales.
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
Limited sales training left for the first quarter of 2019: Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org