From the Vault: “AAA” Rated Prospects

As time goes on, there is more and more content buried deep in the archives of this blog, so every now and then, I like to reach into “the vault” and revisit an old post. So this week while I’m on vacation, I thought I’d bring back this piece on my system of identifying your top sales prospects. Enjoy!


One of the most fundamental aspects of selling tickets is identifying the people that are most likely to purchase (the “Glengarry” leads, for those Glengarry Glen Ross fans out there). You want your sales staff to have the best leads possible in order to increase the chance that they will be able to close sales. This seems pretty straightforward, but making sure you have the best leads is not as simple as it seems.  In many situations, your list of current and former customers isn’t large enough to reach your sales goals, and purchased lead lists can be a mixed bag in terms of quality, accuracy and relevance. So what does it take for an individual to be a top sales prospect?

To make this easy to remember, I’m taking a page from “bond ratings.” If you’re familiar with finance, you probably know that AAA is the highest rating that a bond can have. Well, in order to identify the best leads, you also want to shoot for an “AAA” rating. In our case, the three A’s you need to focus on are:


Let’s break this down one “A” at a time:

Affinity: This is the most fundamental element of the three A’s – clearly, your best sales prospects tend to be consumers that are already fans of your team. The degree of their affinity usually correlates with their purchase behavior. Putting aside the other A’s for a moment, the more affinity you have for a team, the more you tend to spend on tickets, either in quantity, quality or both. A more casual fan with only moderate affinity can still be a customer, but their purchases will be smaller or less frequent.

Ability: Being a fan doesn’t mean you are going to buy tickets. Unfortunately, for many die-hard fans, tickets are simply too expensive to purchase, at least with any regularity.  So having the ability to buy, meaning the prospect has the financial resources to afford tickets, is critical to identifying top leads. You can also think of this “A” in terms of “affluence,” especially when selling high-value items such as club seats and premium season tickets.

Action: This third “A” is often overlooked, but is still quite critical in identifying the best leads. Action is all about prospects that have shown a willingness to purchase your product, or a comparable product.  For example, you could have a very affluent individual that has been a fan of team X for his entire life. However, he prefers to watch his team on his 80″ super-HD TV in his “private theater” room.  In this case, he’s missing the third A since he’s never shown an interest in the act of attending a game in-person. In addition, action does not limit you to your own previous customers. Any related purchasing action (concert tickets, merchandise, etc.) can improve their quality as a prospect.

The other nice thing about this “model” is that it breaks down into components very well. We know the best prospects fit into all three categories, but you don’t always have the luxury of knowing about all three A’s.  As a rule, three A’s are better than two A’s, which are better than just one A. For example, you might know that someone is a fan and has purchased tickets, but you don’t know what they can truly afford. Or your organization might be able purchase a lead list of high-income individuals who spend money on entertainment, but you don’t know if they are fans of your team.  You should always strive to have information on all three A’s, but when that’s not possible, you can try to manage with two of the three. In these scenarios, your conversion rate will be lower, but with more quantity and time, you can still achieve your sales goals.

By the way, technically there is a 4th “A” that I haven’t mentioned, but it should go without saying – AREA.  You should always focus on the  most logical geographic area, usually a 50 to 75 mile radius around your stadium location. It is not worth the time and financial resources to extend your sales efforts beyond this area, as the likelihood of sales drops dramatically. I’ve written a bit about this before when reviewing a team’s direct mail campaign.

If you keep these three A’s in mind as you are building your lead generation and data modeling strategy, I’m confident you will see the results in your conversion rates, and in turn, in the satisfaction of your sales staff!