The Argument For/Against Full Menu Selling vs Season/Group/Hospitality

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It seems like every 10 years or so, we tend to change the way we sell sports.  First we sell one way, then someone comes in and we break it down another.  Moving into 2020 and beyond, the trend is definitely moving one way over another.  Which is better for sales? Which is better for the organization? More importantly, which is better for the customer?

Let’s start with full menu sales.  The thought behind this that the sales rep is empowered to find needs and sell the best fit.  That sounds great in theory, and in teams with small numbers of sales reps, it’s a necessity.

The advantages?  The customer doesn’t have to take their wallet out twice.  The sales rep feels more empowered to find needs if they have the luxury of time to focus on the customer vs the sales.  Sales, in theory, are constantly coming in.

What are the disadvantages?  In most teams, there is a season goal and a group goal.  Heavy focus is made on season until the first month of the season, and, if the goal is then hit, the switch is flipped to focus on groups and trying to hit that goal.  In reality, most teams don’t hit the season number that first month and sell prorated, still focusing on hitting that season goal.  What they find then is that groups is continually playing catch up, trying to hit their goal.  In a few instances, the reps are able to hit both goals. It seems that in the majority of instances, one of the two sales will suffer.

How to fix this?  If full menu is the way you really want to go, then a hard start/stop needs to be set for season and for group.  True, a rep can sell whatever is best as they uncover the needs analysis, but there is a hard start / stop in season to sell new season (say the last month of the season is focused on new season sales), then the switch is made to groups until 2 months prior to the season, when the switch is again made to focus hard on season when the conversation turns more around the upcoming season.  After the first full month of the season, the plan should be to have the season goal hit and follow through until the last month of the season with the focus again on groups.

Can this work? It can with discipline, re-education of our clients, and a full strategy behind it.  This strategy needs to include ‘chunk’ selling (hosting influencers where chunks of season can be sold) as well as the who/how/when/ and packages created that motivate the reps to want to sell them.  This is a quarterly strategy that focuses on accomplishing certain sales during certain times, with strong goals set and a sales team that is focused on the goal. This definitely helps the sales reps in the long run, but not necessarily the client.  The clients won’t really get the best of us all year, but rather pieces of us as we focus and come back, focus and come back.

Enter the individual focus sale.  The reasoning behind this is to create focused specialists who are able to hit goals.   A season team and a group/hospitality team, focused on selling / retention year round. Does this mean they can’t sell the other product? Not at all…should the client want a group and you are selling season, of course you can add it on, but then turn that portion of the sale over to the ‘specialist’ to work to retain it (I recommend the existing rep makes that intro). The key is the hard focus is meant to be on perfecting your craft, knowing it inside and out, and being able to focus on one goal and achieving it.  More importantly, it enables you to sell to your strengths.  This works best with a sales team of 6 or more.

The advantages?  In this way, we enable our staff to master what they are best at, which generally will improve culture, meet goals, and enable staff to be able to build stronger strategies and be part of the planning process.  If a sales rep is motivated more by selling and moving on to the next, they are prime candidates for season sales.  If the rep is motivated by planning, listening, and creating an event, they are prime candidates for group and hospitality sales.  What are we doing then?  We are enabling reps to sell to their strengths.    The clients feel that they are getting the best of us.  The focused sales reps feel empowered to ‘run their own small business.’   Most importantly, goals are generally met as the focus is set as a monthly goal on one product that the team feels more confident in achieving.

The disadvantages?  Management has a hard time letting go.  Most management has been raised in a culture of full menu and high stress, and believes that this is best for the client. We feel we are doing the rep a service by enabling them to sell full menu.  Also, it can be a disadvantage if we randomly select who will sell season vs groups/hospitality without giving it serious thought about what the rep is best at and where their strengths lie.

How to fix?  If focused selling is how you want to go (and I believe what is best moving forward into 2020 and beyond), then knowing your team’s individual strengths and passion for selling will be key.  Empowering them to create their own business plan to run their business, and coaching them along the way will enable them to excel and bring positive culture. Setting monthly goals, and creating fun and motivation to hit those goals will bring more positive culture.  Setting benchmarks to be at each quarter will enable sales to move forward.  The team will be less stressed and instead feel as if they are specialists in their field.  Confidence (and sales!) will grow.

Many of my teams lately have changed to the individual menu sales.  In most instances I am seeing improved culture, reps eager to come to work now and focus on their craft, and revenue being brought in earlier than prior.  Long term relationships are being built with clients now as they can focus on touch points monthly.  And there are many more smiles and eagerness to hit goals.

Which is best for your organization?  Teams, feel free to share the good and the bad with your experiences!

Kathy Burrows, Chief Energy Officer, Sold Out Seating

VERY limited sales trainings remain available 2019 first quarter…contact me now!

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