Dec. 26: Kathy’s Sports Sales Mailbag… “Hey Kathy!”


The holiday festivities are winding down, and (argh!) many have to return to work. The show (game) must go on!!!! While some sports are gearing up to a start of a season, others are gearing up for the second half of their season.  Whatever you are gearing up for, make sure you are ready to hit the ground running! This week, the majority of questions I received focused on retention:

“Hey Kathy,

In today’s sports world, what do you feel is one of the most important departments?”  C, NW

Hi C,

If I were to pick, right now I would say it’s a sales/retention department.  I put the two together because they are inseparable in a sense.  You can’t retain (or have a much harder time) without smart selling and you want to sell new so you  are not selling the same seat year after year, so retaining them is key.

Smart selling involves never ‘pitching’ our product (selling TO) but rather recommending what fits their needs (partnering WITH).  If we sell smartly we give our retention group a much greater chance to renew that client. If we sell TO, we generally lose them and have to continually resell that seat.

Retention also includes adequate types and numbers of touch points…crucial to today’s renewal.


“Hey Kathy,

Our retention department has a sales goal..not just renewal, but new sales goal. The goals are to increase the existing clients by adding on groups, suites or seats. That would be fine, but important, caring touch points are harder to get as the focus is more on selling to them every time we call.  It’s getting to the point that I don’t enjoy this anymore. It started out I was there to assist the client and touch base with them monthly. Is this the way it is now and should I move on?”  A, midwest

Hi A,

This is really a great question.  I have worked with a number of teams that have set sales goals for retention and I often ask them to reconsider.

It is great in the course of your conversations to recommend based on needs (ex:  in conversation you find out that they are having a family reunion…you recommend they come to a game as part of it).  But if you are calling every month trying to put them in and then move them up a pipe line again, you are going to lose them.

What do most clients want? Conversation. A recommendation that might help them. General conversations. Videos. Caring about them with a gift. They want true touch points not monthly sales points. Our job (as in the question above) in retention is to keep our clients. Retention is crucial and the majority of our focus should be on that. If it is focused on selling, we are losing site of the relationship that needs to be nourished.


“Hey Kathy,

We want to make a couple of adjustments to our group. We have some people in positions that would be better suited both personally, professionally and above all be able to help the organization more in different roles better suited to them. Unfortunately, a couple of people are feeling it’s a demotion and we hesitate making those changes now. Your thoughts?”  P, southeast

Hi P,

In any business, leaders try to make sure that they are helping put their people in positions where they can excel.  It sounds you are trying to do the same thing. Keeping them where they are will either a) not enable them to grow or b) create complacency.  It also sends a message to the rest of the staff. At the end of the day, you want the company to succeed. To succeed, we have to have the right people in the right spots.

How this is presented is crucial. What are their strong points? Where do their strengths lie? Why is this next position one in which you feel that they can excel in? Is it an opportunity to create their own department or an opportunity to bring new ideas and energy to an existing department?

If they still don’t want to change, I encourage you to make that hard decision.  Are you doing them a service or disservice keeping them in that role? Keeping them in the role they are not excelling in can be the thing that holds the company back. Weigh your pros and cons. If you want, feel free to contact me and bounce your thoughts off me. Generally talking through them with someone else makes the decision come alive for you.  Good luck!


Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

Sales / Leadership Training:  If your season starts up in the next few months, this is the last chance to fine tune and hit the ground running. Contact me asap for any available dates left for this quarter:

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