In the ‘Sales Failure!’ series, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston takes real-life examples of ineffective selling, and uses them as tools to learn how you can avoid the same mistakes, and what to do instead to improve your own sales results….
In this edition of ‘Sales Failure’ we take the example of Saracens Rugby Club when I was trying to buy tickets for a Premiership Rugby game recently. My ‘experience’ trying to buy the tickets serves as a usual example for us to ‘dissect’ and discover what we can learn from it to help increase our own sales figures!
Now, regular readers of my articles and people I’ve worked with in the past will know I’m a fan of Sale Sharks Rugby. In fact, more than a fan – I’ve been a sponsor for the past 10 years and attend most of the games and the corporate sponsors events (when I’m in the UK).
This particular ‘Sales Failure’ situation happened when I rang up to get tickets for the Sale Sharks away game at Saracens……
Me: I’d like to get 2 tickets for the Sale Sharks game please….
Me: Can I get them with the Sale Sharks fans please as I’m a Sale supporter…
Them: No, we can’t do that here.
Me: I’m sorry?!!
Them: We can’t sell tickets in the Sale section, we can only sell Saracens tickets.
Me: So how do I get tickets for the game and sit with the other Sale supporters?
Them: I don’t know. We don’t sell them here. Try Sale themselves.
Now this was pretty bad…. but wait…. it gets worse!!
Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens please….
Them: We don’t sell those, you’d need to call Saracens.
Me: I’ve just called them, and they told me I’d need to ring you as they can’t sell tickets to Sale fans.
Them: Oh really? We don’t sell them here. Let me give you the number for the stadium….
Slightly confused by now, but determined to buy these tickets, I make my third call…
Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens…
Them: We don’t have any here.
Me: Oh, Saracens told me to call the Sale ticket line and they then sent me to you!
Them: Let me check for you….. we did have some, but the allocation was returned to Saracens a week ago – you’ll need to call them.
Now by this stage I’m getting a bit annoyed and more than a little frustrated… luckily for Saracens I’m a motivated buyer, so I’m still wanting to buy at this stage…. so I made my fourth phone call…
Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Me: I’m a Sale fan, so I want to sit with the other Sale fans. Your colleague said you couldn’t do that, and to call Sale. I’ve called the Sale ticket line, they sent me to the stadium, and they’ve sent me back to you as their allocation has been returned. Can I buy 2 of those tickets please?
Them: No we can’t do that. We can only sell tickets for Saracens allocation.
Me: ?!!! So how do I buy 2 tickets for the game?
Them: You can buy them from me, but I’ll have to sit you with Saracens fans.
Me: There must be another option surely?
Them: Nothing I can do. I can give you a number to call the ground?
Me: Okay, I’ll try that…..
Frankly at this point, it’s getting ridiculous. Is it this hard to buy tickets for the game?!! Luckily for them, I really want to go, so I’m motivated enough to make another phone call!
So, here I go with my FIFTH call!….surely I’ll be able to buy the tickets this time?!!
Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Them: You’ll need to call our ticket line to do that.
Me: I’ve done that already. They said as I’m a Sale fan they couldn’t do that. They sent me to the Sale ticket line. Who sent me to Sale’s ground. Who sent me back to Saracens ticket line. Who have now sent me over to you. Any chance I can actually spend some money with you and buy 2 tickets with the Sale fans.. before one of us dies?!!! (Slightly frustrated and a good Fawlty Towers reference, for those of you that remember!)
Them: We don’t actually have a separate section for the Sale fans. We’re just mixing you up with Saracens fans, so a normal ticket will be fine.
Me: You’re kidding?!! Why doesn’t anyone else know that?!! That would have saved me a lot of time and effort if I’d have known that before!!!
Them: I’ll sort you 2 tickets out from here mate, save you calling the ticket line again.
Me: That would be great – thank you….
Now I’m sure you’ll agree – the situation was more than ridiculous! So what Sales Lessons can we learn from Saracens Sales Failure?
This is such a simple lesson, but one which a lot of companies fall foul of! It’s true in pretty much ANY sales situation, but even more so when your product or service has competitors, or other places people can go to purchase a similar offering!
In this case Saracens were lucky. They had a ‘unique’ offering at a time when I was already in London (this Saracens game was played at Watford), so I had already decided to purchase, and had strong motivation to do so. Had that not been the case, they more than likely would have lost this sale…. and probably many others too!
How easy is it to buy from your company? Have you ever rung your own company and tried to do so? Might be an interesting experience…..
The cause of many companies lost sales – the Sales Prevention Department! These people thrive on telling you why something ‘isn’t possible‘, ‘we don’t work that way‘, or ‘we can’t do that here‘.
These people are one of the biggest causes of lost sales. Think about where they might ‘live’ in your organisation… Accounts Department perhaps? Project Management? Or even worse – the people handling the incoming sales enquiries?!!
In most cases, it’s where ‘non-salespeople’ get involved in the sales process. Like office managers, sales support, accounts, IT, in fact – most departments really! They thrive on telling you policies, procedures and process – and love to say ‘no’. They’re almost like the Traffic Wardens of business! And they’re costing you sales right now!
It often astounds me how much money companies spend on generating incoming sales leads – advertising, marketing, web sites, social media, networking, SEO etc…. and then don’t focus on the people handling the incoming sales enquiries in particular!
Where are these people located in your company?…
In reality, most people are busy people. And they can get irritated quickly, particularly if they perceive what they want to buy as a ‘simple task’ – and it turns out to be anything but!
Therefore your sales process needs to be as short as possible (combined with my ‘easy’ point in Sales Failure Lesson 1 above). The quicker that people can buy, the better – and the more likely they are to do so. This is even more true when it’s an ‘instant purchase’ item like tickets are in this example.
How short is your sales process right now? How many ‘hoops’ do people have to jump through to buy from you? And can you shorten the process?
So above are 3 of the lessons you can learn from Saracens Sales Failure in this situation. Put them into practice in your company, and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on…..