This past weekend, I was in Phoenix for the Diamondbacks’ home opener against the world champion Boston Red Sox.


I have never been to a baseball game where the visiting team had more fans in the park than the home team. Everywhere I looked, there was a sea of Red Sox T-shirts.


Three teams were competing during that game — the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox and the Red Sox fans. The Sox fans were so ever-present and so loud, they completely controlled the energy around the game. I didn’t have a dog in the fight, but I felt sorry for the Diamondback fans, who were both outnumbered and out-invested.


It was fascinating to watch how the Red Sox contingency fired up the players, diminished the Diamondbacks’ achievements and helped their team rally when things weren’t going their way.


Imagine having a fan base for your business that drowns out your competition. Odds are most companies are not going to have fans who rival a rabid sports following. But there are takeaways that we can apply to our organizations to inspire that sports fan type of zeal within our customer base. We are going to need to twist these takeaways, but the results will pay off if we do.


Give them a reason to belong: One advantage that sports teams leverage is the sense of belonging. When you’re a fan, you feel connected.


You know about recent wins and losses, you get updates on the team, and you proudly wear the team’s colors. Odds are your business wins are not going to show up in a news feed or on ESPN. But that does not mean you can’t keep your inner circle informed.


The adaptation we have to make is we can’t just announce our wins or team successes. They’re not that invested. But if we share those stories from the perspective of what’s in it for them, now they do care.


Give them a common foe: Sports rivalries work for a reason. It’s always fun to cheer your team to victory, but it’s even better when they beat the villainous Yankees.


It feels like the stakes are bigger, so the fans need to demonstrate even more solidarity. In the business world, we’re probably not going to hold up our competitor as the identified foe.


The twist in this best practice is that the common foe is usually the problem you solve with or for them. If you’re a not-for-profit, it’s addressing the social ill (homelessness, hunger, water pollution, etc.), and if you’re a for-profit business, the foe should be the problem you solve for them.


Heroes rally the crowd: Every sporting event has a hero. Some teams have a player or two who are always the crowd favorites and the chants begin as soon as that player shows up on the field. Last weekend, the “MOOOOOK” cheers every time Mookie Betts came up to bat were deafening.


One of the best elements of sporting events is that any player can be the hero of the day. An amazing catch, pitching a no-hitter, the rookie who hits the game-winning home run – they are always such inspiring stories.


The shift in this strategy is we need to make sure our client is the hero of our stories. It’s an easy mistake to place our product or service in the hero role, but we should be the sidekick in the story. Our customers should be front and center in all our case studies and examples.


With some focus and concentrated effort, you can activate your customers and prospects to become a fan base that is invested in you and your team. They’ll provide referrals, shout out how you’ve helped them, and celebrate your successes.