Like football, sales prospecting is a contact sport. Identifying qualified leads, crafting the perfect pitch, and reaching out in the right way at the right time all take strategy, tenacity, guts… and the right data.
About three years ago our sales reps started telling us that when they called into Atlanta as it was raining, everybody answered the phone, and they made more sales. Industry research shows the single biggest obstacle that sales reps face is reaching busy decision makers.
Could the weather actually affect sales by affecting the ability to reach people? We put our data scientists on the question and they came back with a resounding “Yes!”
Then our reps noticed that before big sporting events like the World Cup or when Jimmer was sinking his wicked 40-foot 3’s, the whole game of sales seemed to be affected. Could sporting events also affect sales prospecting? The Moneyball model Oakland A’s have already been a model for predictive analytics in sales.
This week, InsideSales.com’s data scientists looked at national and regional datasets collected over the past three years in our Neuralytics predictive analytics engine to see how the Super Bowl affects contact rates between sales reps and their leads.
Big Game Hangover
National contact rates drop just after playoff season, and descend even further after the Super Bowl. Hordes of fans around the country are mourning losses and need some time to recover. Over the past three years, the Patriots displayed the biggest decline (-46 percent) in contact rates of all participating teams. Let’s hope (for the sake of sales reps calling into the Boston region) that the Patriots take home a win this year.
This is especially true for the losing team’s region: For the three weeks after the Super Bowl, losing regions decrease their likelihood to accept sales calls (25 percent) and experience an even greater decrease in their contact rates (about 29 percent) (see Chart 2).
The Joy of Winning
There is an exception to every rule, and the exception here is with the winning team. Winning regions experience a significant spike in their likelihood to accept sales calls (32 percent), with contact rates increasing by nearly 10 percent for a month following the game (see Chart 2.)
The fans of teams that eventually become Super Bowl champions are unlikely to answer as their eyes are probably glued to ESPN. Contact rates for these fans maintain below-average rates during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but skyrocket following their eventual win (see Chart 2).
Here are a few “key plays” every sales team should consider:
Start Early to Tap Into Nationwide Euphoria
Four weeks before the Super Bowl, the NFL playoffs are in full swing and fans around the country are electrified and hungry for a chance at Super Bowl glory. This is an optimal time to contact Americans nationwide for a sales pitch (contact rates increase by 15 percent). However, you need to know when to back off as contact rates drop off significantly as teams are eliminated.
Don’t Bother Me, I’m on ESPN
During the week prior to the big game and for two weeks following, people across the nation are less likely to accept sales calls.
East Coast vs. Central vs. West Coast: Understand the National Fandom Heat Map
All fans are not created equal as passions play out regionally in the week following the Super Bowl. The Upper Midwest wins the true “fanatic” title in the variance of swing of willing to engage in phone contacts, with Central not far behind. Eastern and West Coast fans have a more laid back reaction to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat (refer to Chart 3). Use this little nugget to sharpen your sales prospecting strategies in real-time.
Just Happy to Be Here
From a historical perspective, regions that eventually return home without a victory have contact rates above average during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but drop off significantly following their big loss (see Chart 2).
Are these fans just happy to make it to the big game? Who knows, but sales teams can take advantage of their excitement before their team loses with some targeted prospecting.
The Super Bowl is only one of many factors that influence whether a sales rep will be able to reach a prospect (and, in turn, close a sale). The outcome of sporting events doesn’t have the same impact on contact rates as immediate response to leads, time of day or day of week, for example.
To win in sales or football, you have to take risks, and based purely on the historical data on contact rates of winning and losing teams in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and admittedly correlative and probably not causative, and if contact rate profiles were the primary deciding factor; then New England fans are matching contact rate profiles of a winning Super Bowl team this year.
So, here goes… New England for the win.
How fanatic are you?
What’s your prediction?
NOTE: Here is a more in-depth analysis of the InsideSales.com Super Bowl Sales Playbook.