Branding You in the Business of Sports

Branding You in the Business of Sports
by Drew Mitchell – January 2016

Who are you?

What separates you from everyone else in your business? How is your brand perceived by others?

“Branding you” was the topic of our panel discussion held at the new Foster Campus for Business and Innovation at Baylor University. The audience consisted of students from the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program as well as sports industry executives. The panel included Tami Walker, Head of Brand Management for Phillips 66; Derek Blake, Vice President of Partnership Marketing and Military Programs at La Quinta Inns & Suites; and, Greg Grissom, Vice President of Corporate Development at the Houston Texans.

The discussion yielded important insights on how to brand yourself in any business, but specifically in the business of sports.  We each have a personal brand that makes each of us unique, as the iconic Dr Pepper brand reminds us, we are “Always One of A Kind.”

The Four Pillars

Derek introduced four key underlying principles of who you are and how others will see you.

  1. Connecting – Be a networker. Help people meet other people, which in return broadens your network.
  2. Humility – Unless you are an entrepreneur, you will always have a boss until you become CEO. And then you will have a board of directors. Always have the mindset of WIT–whatever it takes. Be willing to do anything, even if it means taking out the trash or making the coffee, no matter your seniority level.
  3. Integrity – “Don’t shift with the wind.” Do the right thing, even when no one is watching. During hard times don’t stray from core principles and values.
  4. Giving – Set yourself apart by giving back, regardless of how much money you make or what your position. Plenty of people know how to take. Being a giver means you are a service to your peers, business, society and the community.

Why Ration Passion?

Tami talked about how it was important to have a framework for your personal brand. First, you must develop expertise. Whether it’s through education, experience or a combination of other learning opportunities, expertise sets you apart from others. Know what skills and talents you possess and what skills you need to acquire. Second, you must have passion that distinguishes you from others.

Mike Libeckimike libecki is an example of someone who pursues his passion. Life is sweet–the time is now–so, why ration passion? Don’t hold back who you are and showing others what you love. Being passionate is being human. Don’t place a limit on your passion. Combining passion with expertise is a great combination.

Relatedly, Greg emphasized three ingredients to your personal brand:

  1. Passion – See a common theme here? Passion can change and evolve as you experience life, but decide what passion really makes you tick now.
  2. Competitiveness – Compete. Be bold. Make decisions. As a young adult and student, this is the perfect time in life to be bold and take a risk with your career.
  3. Trust – Your personal brand reflects those who surround you. Others see who you trust and those who trust you. Building trust with the right people in your network is important in building your brand.

Market your Brand

After you understand your personal brand, the next step is to market your brand. What good does your brand do if nobody knows about it? Here are a few pointers from the panel:

  1. Use the Power of Who – One of the commonalities among panelists was the power of your own personal network. Who you know influences the content of your brand and how you market it. Bob Beaudine has a great book titled “The Power of Who.” Read it if you want to grow your brand. One point Beaudine emphasizes is to use your “who” to market you.
  2. Get Involved – Involvement in a variety of activities places your brand across a wider market. I joined St. Jude as their Corporate Chairperson this past year. I am passionate about the cause. I wanted to share my talents. Serving introduced me to a totally new network of people. Get involved to serve. Don’t overlook the opportunity to build your network while you serve.
  3. Be Different – Being your own brand means being different. For example, since everyone is so consumed with social media and email, we forget about the power of postal mail. Executives may (dis)miss an email, but every hand-written note gets read. When you meet someone new, send them a hand-written note. That makes you different.
  4. Promote –Promoting your own personal brand is as easy as coming up with a username and password. LinkedIn is a free platform to share your talents and skills and connect with others. One approach–sometimes required by corporate policy–is to create separate professional Facebook and Twitter accounts. Use social media and digital strategically. Be careful. Most future employers will review before hiring.

Develop your Brand

Now that you understand what your brand is and how to market it, develop your brand. Notes from the panel include:

  1. Risk-taking– Green paper buys things. We like it. But don’t let money get in the way of your passion. Use the time early in your career to take a risk while responsibilities are low. Go deep on why you are passionate. Then ACT on that passion without caring about the financial compensation. Now is the time to set the momentum for your career. Money will follow.
  2. Learning Agility – Be a “seeker of knowledge.” The number one predictor of career success is learning agility, which includes people agility, mental agility and strategic agility.
  3. Power of Mentors – Mirror others that have success. A proverb provides, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Identify seasoned veterans as mentors. Each executive you see today still has mentors who offer advice and serve as a mirror for the future self. Find someone who shares the same core values to help lead along your journey.
  4. Build your network – You always have room to add to your network. The bigger your network, the more visible your brand. It is still true: Who you know gets you the job. What you know keeps you there.

Derek Blake sums it up, plain and simple, “My name is all I have.” At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, people buy you, not the product you sell. Be intentional–have a plan–on how to market your brand. Be the brand others can’t live without.

Want to know how to find your perfect employer in sports? Read on!

How sponsorships can add to the fan experience

How sponsorships can add to the fan experience
by Lynda Carrier-Metz – December 2015

What is the first sponsorship question?

The first question we ask as we develop each partnership with a sports team is: How can our involvement benefit our customers? The second question quickly follows: Will this partnership ultimately drive sales for our company?

When I was in college (quite a while ago), the athletic director needed to ramp things up. He brought in camels to race during the half-time entertainment.  I don’t recall a sponsor. It was a desperate act to get fans in the stands.  It was high on the shock-level, but not very interactive.

That was then…

When we signed our first sports contract a couple of decades ago, stadiums had limited sponsor signage. Game time sponsor entertainment was sparse. Sponsors were less sophisticated about how to leverage opportunities with sports teams.

Fast forward to 2016: Schools push back on sports management companies. They say there are:

  1. Too many signs,
  2. Too many (2-3) promotions in each break, and
  3. Too many spectators numbed to the exposure overload.

How can a sponsorship add to the fan experience?

What can we do? How can we add to the fan experience–rather than add to the over-commercialization of sports? Both seller and sponsor are responsible for assuring they enhance the overall event.  Otherwise, everyone loses.  Fans stop paying attention. Sponsor messages don’t cut through the clutter. Contracts aren’t renewed.

This situation happened to us with a long term partnership. We nearly walked away from future sponsorship. The cost was high. We didn’t believe the impact was what we once had.  Both parties reviewed what we were doing. We saw what was working and what wasn’t.  After months of discussing solutions, we found new events fans would enjoy with ways to focus our media to cut through. How?

  1. Own the opening game segment. Own the beginning of the game, both on TV and in-stadium.  During our post season review we determined the in-stadium activation was a really fun promotion. The kid-fans experience was great. But, awareness was low.  The promotion ran prior to the game before many spectators were in the stands to see it.  Rather than ditching a good idea the kids enjoyed, we did the promotion and ran a recorded “recap” immediately prior to the game.  Fans now in their seats see kids having a great time. Our brand is associated with that fun fan experience that can only occur by attending the game.
  2. Activate post-game purchases by tying it to the results of the game.  While supporting their team, fans know if the team wins. When they do, they win a way to buy our product for less.  We increased views and received only favorable comments on Facebook throughout the football season. We used social media and traditional media to promote. The sales results are great. (We lucked out with a near perfect season. If the team isn’t expected to win many games, make the tie-in connected to points scored or some other favorable outcome.)

These kinds of approaches work because we connected the promotion with (a) a clearly identifiable event that happens every game and (b) an enjoyable consumer (re)action. As a sponsor, align your brand with the team to offer a better product by focusing on how to make the fan experience more enjoyable.


Cover photo courtesy of Dustin Holmes.

Help us help you: How to utilize your marketing team to grow sales

Help us help you: How to utilize your marketing team to grow sales
by Alexis Sidney – October 2015

Successful sales teams build strong relationships. Client relationships are important. Building strong relationships within the company and specifically with the marketing department is also important. Marketers support revenue generating goals by crafting a strong and memorable message, building an effective and integrated promotional plan, and reaching beyond the typical target audience.

The sales staff and management can work effectively with the marketing team to maximize sales and revenue by following these five guidelines: 

  1. Build a relationship. As with any coworker, build a rapport with your marketing contact so you aren’t only reaching out when you need something. Show an interest in his or her job and learn what responsibilities s/he has. Encourage them to get familiar with your role as well.
  2. Share your strategy. Let marketing know your goals. What does success looks like for each project? In general, salespeople and marketers provide unique perspectives on the same task. Inter-department collaboration on a marketing and sales plan will encourage teamwork and promote an understanding of each other’s goals.
  3. Get a point person. At the Mavs, a marketing position serves as the primary liaison for ticket sales creative and promotional requests. The marketing contact collaborates with ticket sales and gains a thorough understanding of their needs while maintaining final creative approval. It also encourages a sales focused perspective when making marketing decisions such as theme nights, promotions, premium items, etc.
  4. Plan ahead. One of the most important factors in creating a successful marketing campaign is preparation. Sales employees are sometimes shocked to learn the lead time required to send a seemingly simple message. Many moving pieces need to be coordinated internally before going public. Marketing needs time to design graphics, create messaging, schedule promotions and advertisements, and ensure accuracy before moving forward. Messages can change quickly during a season, so it is important to prioritize major or recurring sales goals in advance to ensure that these messages get necessary time and attention.
  5. Keep open lines of communication. Marketing contacts are usually the most informed on the upcoming communication priorities across the organization. Be sure to include at least one marketing contact in your annual planning and relevant department meetings. Keep them up-to-date on your upcoming priorities. This will allow them to integrate fresh sales messages into promotional schedules and recommend additional sales opportunities throughout the year that might otherwise be overlooked.

Although we work in different departments, we are all on the same team. It’s everyone’s job to sell tickets, “put butts in seats,” generate revenue, drive fan engagement and create memories. Help us help you (and hopefully you’ll help us too).

8 Tips to Getting Promoted in the Sports Industry

8 Tips to Getting Promoted in the Sports Industry
by Rocky Harris – October 2015

Managing expectations

I get asked all the time what it takes to get promoted in the sports industry. Over the last 15 years the industry has encountered rapid growth, which has provided more professional opportunities and raised expectations for getting promoted faster.

When I got my first full-time job with the San Francisco 49ers, I felt lucky to have an entry-level position. It was highly competitive. No one seemed to get promoted or leave for other jobs. Upward mobility was more aspirational than realistic. Today, people enter the industry expecting to become athletics director, president or general manager by the time they are 30. Somewhere along the way, we stopped worrying about excelling at our current jobs and only focused on reaching the next step.

How to advance in 8 easy steps

Instead of trying to reverse the course of the industry, I have some direction for those looking to advance their careers.

  1. nickbakerExcel at your current job: Many people think all they have to do to get promoted is meet the minimum expectations for their current positions. I always tell my staff that the first step is to excel at what you were hired to accomplish. AEG Senior Vice President Nick Baker, who started at AEG as an intern and worked his way up, explained: “You have to have proven excellence in your current role before you can be considered for additional responsibilities and opportunities.”
  2. Impact other departments: Once you effectively manage all current responsibilities, the next step is to positively impact and contribute to other departments. It shows you are a team player. Other leaders within the organization will notice your contribution in helping them reach their goals.
  3. Focus on solving organizational objectives: I was told early in my career to solve the problems of the most senior decision-maker in the department (president, athletics director, owner, etc.). After perfecting the job you are hired to do and helping other departments reach their goals, spend your spare time figuring out ways to solve organizational problems. Delivering a solution to an issue that keeps the team owner up at night will help you get noticed and promoted.
  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses: Focus on using your strengths to deliver short-term results. Develop and display a skill set relevant to the objectives of the organization. Example: If your boss is a luddite, and you are tech-savvy, your technology skills can deliver value to the organization that no one else can that sets you apart.
  5. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have: One employee asked for a promotion because he felt he was ready to take on a more senior role. I told my boss about his desire for advancement and we were considering it. The next day, the employee walked in to the office with tennis shoes and his shirt un-tucked. My boss said he refused to promote him, regardless of the work he produces, until he learns professionalism.
  6. Find mentors: I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of others. It is critical to your professional development. Mentors can help you develop your personal plan and provide much-needed guidance.
  7. Build relationships: Have a positive attitude. Be the kind of person people want to work with. Leaders can easily identify divisive people. Dividers will not be promoted regardless of the results they drive.
  8. stevewebbBe open to change: Executive Director of Compliance at Arizona State University, Steve Webb, has lived in four different states to pursue his goals in the sports industry. Webb said, “In the sports industry, you have to be willing to change jobs, move and take on new roles in order to grow. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will move up the ladder quicker.”

 

These steps do not guarantee you will fast-track to the top of an organization. But, if that is your goal, these pointers will give you the best chance to reach your career goals.


Cover photo courtesy of Pascal.

 

2015 Baylor S3 Board Meeting in Pictures

2015 Baylor S3 Board Meeting in Pictures
by Kirk Wakefield – October 2015

The 2015 Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Board Meeting was held October 20-21 along the banks of the Brazos in beautiful Waco, Texas. With over 80 executives and managers attending and over 40 managers interviewing S3 juniors and seniors for internships and positions, it marked the 12th year of continuous growth for the program. The S3 program admits up to 38 highly qualified students into its junior class each year to focus on sports sales, CRM & sales analytics. In 2015, 97% of graduating seniors were placed in industry positions.

2015 S3 Board Meeting Attendees

First Last Organization First Last Organization First Last Organization
Alan Aldwell Pittsburgh Pirates George Killebrew Dallas Mavs Bryan Apgar Website Alive
Spencer Ambrosius LA FC Kenny Koperda Minnesota Timberwolves Jody Bell Pizza Hut
Deno Anagnost Tampa Bay Bucs Andre Luck Houston Astros Derek Blake La Quinta Inns & Suites
Lindsay Beale San Antonio Spurs Clark McCormack Dallas Mavericks Larry Brantley The Company of Others
Derek Beeman Houston Texans Matt McInnis FC Dallas John Burnett Consulting
Brandon Bittel AEG/LA Kings Shawn McIntosh Houston Dynamo Brooks Byers Sports Desk Media
Joe Clark San Antonio Spurs Eric McKenzie San Diego Padres Laura Cade La Quinta Inns & Suites
Matt Clark San Diego Padres Nick McNeil Pittsburgh Pirates Lynda Carrier-Metz Pizza Hut
Murray Cohn NBA Drew Mitchell Texas Legends Tory Castillo Jack Morton Agency
Elliott Crichfield Denver Nuggets Jayson Morgan Dallas Cowboys Travis Dillon The Marketing Arm
Hayley DiNaso Minnesota Timberwolves Brian Norman Philadelphia 76ers Eric Fernandez Sports Desk Media
Justin Dunn Columbus Blue Jackets Pat O’Connor MiLB Tom Fletcher IMG
Jeff Eldersveld Columbus Blue Jackets Sean O’Connor Charlotte Hornets Bill Guertin 800 Pound Gorilla
Rob Erwin Dallas Mavs Sarah Proctor Philadelphia 76ers Jon Heidtke Fox Sports Southwest
Chelsea Fenstermacher Philadelphis 76ers Mitch Ried Cleveland Cavs Hunter Klop General Motors
Shannon Fischer Houston Rockets Jay Riola Orlando Magic Jose Lozano The Company of Others
Makinzie Foos Memphis Grizzlies Joe Schiavi Detroit Pistons Ryan Luckey AT&T
Sean Foster Houston Dynamo Andrew Sidney Houston Rockets Dan Migala PCG
Travis Gafford Dallas Stars Steve Timms Houston Golf Assoc. Bill Moseley AT&T
Mitch Gall Air Force Academy Jake Vernon Minnesota Timberwolves Jay Ory IMG
Brian George IMG-Baylor Andrew Vitale Memphis Grizzlies Tom Parsons Time Warner Cable Business
Stephen Gray Austin Spurs Adam Vogel NY Mets David Peart Root Sports
Greg Grissom Houston Texans Wil Walters Minnesota Timberwolves Katie Scallan Gulf States Toyota
Flavil Hampsten San Jose Sharks Lauren Ward Houston Rockets Jake Shockley State Farm
Leslie Horn Dallas Stars Heidi Weingartner Dallas Cowboys Bill Spicer Consulting
Anthony Horton San Antonio Spurs Jake Winowich Houston Astros Tami Walker Phillips 66
Tyler Howell Portland Trail Blazers Tommy Wright Houston Golf Assoc.
Chase Jolesch Baylor Athletics Tickets Justin Wynter Austin Spurs
Chase Kanaly Houston Astros Rob Zuer Denver Nuggets

2015 S3 Awards

Hunter Klop, District Sales Manager, presented the Chevrolet 2015 awards for outstanding service to the S3 program. Heidi Weingartner, Chief HR Officer of the Dallas Cowboys, received the Chevrolet Award for Outstanding Team Board Member. Kelly Roddy, President of Schlotzsky’s, was recognized as the Chevrolet Outstanding Corporate Board Member. The Chevrolet Award for Outstanding S3 Alumnus went to Brian George (S3 ’07), General Manager of IMG/Baylor. The Chevrolet Outstanding S3 Report Writer Award went to Andre Luck, Manager of Inside Sales at the Houston Astros, for his article, “5 Characteristics of the Best Salespeople.”

S3 Board in Pictures

Tami T. Walker
Tami T. Walker

The Phillips 66 S3 Banquet was held at the Hilton in Waco, Texas. Special thanks to Tami T. Walker, Phillips 66, for helping us enjoy the evening with fine food & festivities! Pat O’Conner, President & CEO of MiLB, was guest speaker, hosted by Dan Migala (see cover photo).

 

 

[slideshow_deploy id=’9276′]

 

 

 

The board meeting was held at the new Paul L. Foster Campus for Innovation and Business on the Baylor campus. Drew Mitchell (S3 ’06), CRO of the Texas Legends, led a panel discussion on “Branding you: Making yourself stand out in the business of sports,” with Tami T. Walker (BU ’86), Phillips 66; Derek Blake (BU ’86), La Quinta Inns & Suites and Greg Grissom (BU ’94), Houston Texans. Murray Cohn, the NBA’s Vice President Team Ticket Sales, led a group of All-Star Managers to guide S3 majors to position themselves with positivity, work ethic, coachability, honesty & integrity and remembering that good is the enemy of great.

nba panel

Dan Migala led a panel discussion on “The Art of the Deal: Emerging Trends in Structuring Partnerships,” with panelists Jose Lozano (BU ’93), The Company, Brian George (S3 ’07), and Ryan Luckey, AT&T.  Bryan Apgar (S3 ’08), Website Alive, moderated a panel on “Selling in the Social Space,” with Joe Schaivi, Palace Sports, Mitch Ried, Cleveland Cavaliers, Andrew Vitale (S3 ’14), Memphis Grizzlies, and Brooks Byers (S3 ’14), Sports Desk Media.  You can find these and many more in the slideshow below!

We look forward to next year’s board meeting on October 11 & 12, 2016. For more information, contact Dr. Darryl Lehnus or Dr. Kirk Wakefield.

[slideshow_deploy id=’9298′]

How to Win Fans Regardless of Team Performance

How to Win Fans Regardless of Team Performance
by Scott Adamek – October 2015

Winning is the lone word too many people think will solve every single problem in a sports organization.  Don’t get me wrong; when team performance flourishes most things get better. Personally, I don’t have much experience with such situations. You might call me unlucky, but I consider myself one of the luckiest people. Why? Because I’ve learned and developed ways to sell a losing team.  Team performance is one of the biggest objections we face in selling sports.   Below are three tips for success, regardless of how the team is doing in the standings.

1. Win the heart or mind of your prospect

What kind of person are you dealing with? Is emotion (heart) or logic (mind) the best route to talk with them?

Connect with emotions by sharing personal anecdotes. Have them open up about experiences with your team or venue. Ask about personal game-day stories. Reminisce in the great times they’ve had.  For many people, buying tickets is an emotionally-driven buy.

Win the minds of analytical, price/data-driven people by helping them solve a complex problem. Selling to businesses and partnerships requires developing a partnership approach. You are helping them identify a need. They may not have been able to specify the real need. Use proof to discuss your ticket/partnership solution in very tangible ways.

“Always sell the experiences and the memories. I vividly remember going to games when I was young. The things I remember are the fun experiences I had with the people close to me, not the win or loss. Sales execs need to tap into those experiences, and who they spent them with.  Those are the things you’re after. Not wins and losses.”  – Rob Kristiniak, Director of Group Sales, Florida Panthers

2. Groups, groups, groups

Group tickets are the heart and soul of an organization not performing well on the field or court.  Theme nights attract groups. Groups mean hundreds or thousands of tickets bought by people who would not come to that specific game in the first place.  Some successful theme nights include sports disability night, singles night, breast cancer awareness day, and armed forces day.

Provide a unique experience and purpose to sell the group leader.  The group event or theme night exposes thousands of new people to your product who you can now prospect as warm leads. In turn, they may progress into partial plans and season tickets. Successful theme nights require planning and attention to detail, but the experience will be memorable for both you and the attendees.

3. Sell hope

Hope can be defined by “a feeling of expectation, trust, and desire for a certain thing to happen.”  How do you think the Baylors of the world got so good at football? Coach Art Briles sold two and three star recruits on the belief and hope of where the football program was going.

We will always have bandwagon fans. You won’t win them all over. But, tap into their hearts and minds about the hope of good things to come, the tradition of coming to games, and how it’s a “party” no matter what.  Hope and tradition can go a long way if you know your product and [act like you] know where your team is going. When the team is down:

“The best recourse to take is high energy. People won’t get excited about the team if you’re not excited about the team. Stand up, talk with your hands and really get into it when you’re on the phone. You have to sell the energy and excitement that will be there regardless of team performance. When we sell our home games, we are selling 40 hockey parties a year, and going to make sure it’s truly a party.” –Travis Gafford, Premium Sales Executive, Dallas Stars

Conclusion

Just remember, improvement is a process. Success is a process. Becoming the best is a process.  Success takes time. Being one of the best is hard. It does not happen overnight. Work with passion. Mentally prepare to give your best. The best salespeople can push past hard – don’t let it stop you!

Increase Season Ticket Renewals by Identifying At-Risk Accounts

Increase Season Ticket Renewals by Identifying At-Risk Accounts
by Daniel Venegas – September 2015

Identifying At-Risk Accounts

Many factors go into the buying decision whenever customers receive renewal invoices.  Team performance, usage, cost, and value are just a few of the buzz words we hear every year.  The issue is knowing which accounts will bring these up and how to identify them beforehand.

Simplifying the renewal process has been one of our paramount objectives for the past three seasons. We focus on identifiers of at-risk accounts.  Team performance is important and measurable, but beyond our control. We chose two metrics to identify at-risk accounts early in the process:

  • Season Ticket Tenure
  • Attendance

Understanding these two elements and what they indicate allows us to influence accounts at the beginning of the season as opposed to waiting to hear objections.

Season Ticket Tenure

You can tell a good deal about customers by how long they have been with the organization.  Over the past two seasons alone we can tell that first year customers are 9% less likely to renew than second year customers and 17% less likely to renew than third year customers.  Obviously, new season ticket holders should be a major focus of your renewal campaign.  You know who they are from the very beginning so there is no excuse for not being proactive with these accounts.

Karlis Kezbers
Karlis Kezbers

“When it comes to first-year season ticket members, education can help drive success.  It’s important to educate the client on every possible aspect to utilize their tickets in the most efficient way.  Don’t assume a first-year account knows everything about their membership.” -Karlis Kezbers (@karliskezbers), Director, Retention and Ticket Operations, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Ticket Attendance

Attendance at games is another great quantitative measure to identify at-risk accounts.  Customers with an attendance of 61-70% are 6% less likely to renew than those customers that attend 71-80% of games and 9% less likely to renew than customers that attend 81-90% of games.

Tracking attendance early on in a season can help you identify customers that may have issues utilizing their tickets. Be proactive with these accounts and to help them identify ways to better use their tickets.

“The responsibility for getting a ticket used is slowly but surely transferring away from the client and onto the team.”  -Karlis Kezbers (@karliskezbers)

Face to Face: The Throwback Solution

Now that you know the potentially risky accounts, what do you do with them?  You can’t change their tenure.  You may be able to influence their attendance, but probably not much.

Go meet them in person!

Take time out of your week to show customers how much you and the organization care about their business.  It is your job to consult with them on the product you sold.  Let them know 1st year STHs often aren’t aware of the best ways to utilize season ticket benefits compared to tenured accounts.  Walk through the benefits to see how you can help.  Tell customers when you notice they are not utilizing their tickets as frequently as most.  Offer solutions to manage missed games or to better utilize future games.  When you have done this:

Go see them again!

Sam Bays
Sam Bays

Sam Bays, Director of Business Development at the Arizona Coyotes, shares,

“Whether it’s at the arena, in their office, or over a lunch, nothing solidifies the relationship between an AE and a client like a face to face meeting. As a sales professional, the more you can make yourself the ‘face of the franchise’ in the client’s eyes, the more likely they are to renew.”

You may or may not be able to influence attendance or utilization of seats, but your actions influence renewal rates. Accounts that use 61-70% of their tickets renew at a rate 10% higher than average if their reps visit them more than once during the season.  You also can’t change the fact you are working with a first year account, but you can show them the real value they purchased.  First year accounts that have more than one face to face visit from their reps during the season renew at a rate 6% higher than the average rookie account.

Day one of your renewal should be the first day after your deadline.  These numbers are specific to my organization but the relative impact can be the same for you.


Cover photo courtesy of PresseBox.

 

Illustrated CRM: How CRM Process Helps the Sales Process

Illustrated CRM: How CRM Process Helps the Sales Process
by Alex Karp – September 2015

Three things will make CRM a great tool for your organization:

  1. consistency,
  2. ease of use, and
  3. documentation of activity.

All of these are essential, particularly the last one, if management is going to be able to use CRM effectively. I wanted to share some best practices that I have gathered from my short time in the industry and how those best practices can contribute to the overall growth of your organization.

Focus on the learner: Keep training time short

Let’s consider the documentation of activity.  A wise previous boss of mine once said, “If it’s not saved in CRM, it didn’t happen.” Documenting every activity is the goal every CRM staff member and sales manager strives to meet. It’s not easy.

Whenever sitting down with a new group of sales reps, the first training session should focus on one thing: How to document/save a phone call. Reps do this task a hundred times a day or more. The process of saving a phone call is tied to many other reporting aspects of CRM.  Drill them on this until you know they are doing it right every time. The many other features of CRM (e.g., advanced finds) can be covered later. Making sure reps know how to save a phone call is the first step to helping them succeed.

Another way to focus on the learner is to have training sessions grouped by department. Group Sales and Season Ticket Sales use CRM differently. Training by departments provides relevant content and keeps everyone engaged. Otherwise, people tune out when the training isn’t relevant–and it’s hard to get them engaged again.

Fewer clicks leads to more calls

At Fan Interactive, I get to work on multiple client CRM redesign projects. A project goal is to make CRM a little more user friendly and reduce necessary clicks. As you can see in Panel A , reps have the ability to add an activity and notes directly from the opportunity. This is a bit different than the out of the box version of CRM, where more clicks are required to add an activity to an opportunity. Reps can enter information, save and close the opportunity and move onto the next one. This process also stores the last activity data and counts the activity as being completed, as in Panel B. Reps are then able to search using fields from this opportunity such as ‘last activity date’ and ‘number of activities’ within the opportunity.

Reporting

Now that the reps can easily and document a phone call in a consistent way, what’s next? A daily activity tracker (see Panel C) is a good start. This helps re-enforce the importance of saving a phone call to reps since they will see their results and know where they stand compared to the rest of the group.

With software such as Tableau, which combines the layout of Excel with the power of SQL, you can create scoring models based on rep activity. After tracking activities, the next step is to track the revenue associated with those activities. The campaign report below shows revenue generated in a rollup version as well as a more detailed version.

crm3

These reports were made possible by the re-design (ease of use) and consistent documentation. With a more user-friendly version of CRM, it’s easier for everyone to use CRM the same way, which leads to more accurate reporting.

Conclusion

CRM is a powerful and essential tool for sales and marketing. For it to succeed, sales reps need to enter data in a consistent and thorough manner.  Documenting phone calls in CRM is a process sales reps will repeat thousands of times throughout their sales careers. By making the process easier, both through training and redesign, CRM can help you generate reports and analytics that will allow you to make effective business decisions.

CRM Made Easy: How to Track Account Renewals

CRM Made Easy: How to Track Account Renewals
by Michael Hurley – September 2015

Are you using your CRM system to project final renewal numbers? Are you able to identify accounts that might be harder to renew?

The Way We Were

In 2012, during my first renewal campaign  with the Houston Astros working with then Director of Season Ticket Services, Alan Latkovic, our “CRM system” was an Excel spreadsheet with every single account listed as a line item and the columns  laid out to reflect “touch points” or times of contact with Season Ticket Holders (example below).

hurley tpm

This method of touch point management worked in lieu of an actual CRM system. But, there isn’t much tracking and it’s not easy to project renewals. When we rolled out Microsoft Dynamics CRM before the 2013 renewal campaign, our eyes were opened to the benefits of tracking renewals. Today, after years of tracking accounts and tendencies, we can project renewal numbers to the percentage point even before we receive the first response.

Using renewal scores we have real-time information on which accounts require a little more “love.” We quickly see which accounts have not responded at all. We strategically plan an offsite visit with them and maybe even take Orbit along.

orbit

Using CRM to Track Renewals

Alan Latkovic (@AlanLatkovic), Senior Director of Season Ticket Services and Operations with the Astros, accentuates the importance of using  CRM to track renewals and project the final renewal numbers.

“With the tools of CRM we are able to score accounts who respond to the initial renewal call daily, monthly, and annually.  Providing this data to our analytics team, we are then able to project renewals and carry the information over each season to create new renewal benchmarks.”

Tracking every conversation and response for each account ultimately makes the big picture become more clear. The Astros use a very simple but effective renewal tracking method throughout the renewal campaign. We categorize accounts based on an initial indication of renewal.  If an account’s initial response to us when they receive their invoice is that they are not renewing, we mark them as “unlikely to renew” in CRM, at the same time if an account lets us know they are planning on renewing and processing the invoice, or “the check is in the mail” we mark them as “likely to renew” in CRM.  Using renewal scores, we can project what an account will do, and by tracking the data of renewal scores over time, we then have an idea of what percentage of accounts in each score grouping will ultimately renew.

The Importance of Tracking Renewals

When it comes down to it, we simply cannot overlook the importance of tracking renewals and building renewal campaigns around the tools of CRM. Katherine Tran, Manager of Membership Services with FC Dallas, stresses the importance of being able to forecast future renewal cycles by using CRM:

“The importance of tracking renewals is second to none.  It allows teams to pinpoint customer trends over the seasons and helps forecast future renewal cycles.  Teams can plan their renewal efforts and campaigns based on data from previous years.”

When following trends in renewals over the years, and knowing which accounts renew and when, a much clearer picture emerges when forecasting renewal numbers.  While using Excel will get the job done, it’s no comparison to the benefits a true CRM system provides.


Cover photo courtesy of Ezhil Ramalingam, India.

 

5 Characteristics of the Best Salespeople in Sports

5 Characteristics of the Best Salespeople in Sports
by Andre Luck – September 2015

As an Inside Sales Manager I am often asked what the best salespeople do to be the best.  Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to manage or mentor over 100 salespeople so far in my career. I have seen many times what the top performing salespeople have done to separate themselves from their peers.  What makes these salespeople great?

Attitude

One of the most important characteristics of a successful salesperson is the attitude you bring to the office every single day.  Although, being positive and having a smile on your face is important, bringing the right attitude to the office is more than just that.  As a salesperson it means fully embracing your role as a salesperson that is tasked with generating revenue for your organization.  It means having a confidence and assertiveness that will help you close sales and overcome tough objections from customers.  And most importantly it means being in total control of how you react to all situations. One of my favorite quotes that I share with every one of my new hires is from Charles Swindoll that says “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I tell my salespeople that no one else is in control of your attitude but you.

Work Ethic

When I was a sales rep I took great pride in my work ethic. I look to hire salespeople with a strong work ethic as well.  Sales is a numbers game. More times than not, the people who put in the most work are at or near the top of the sales board.  Come early, stay late, make five more phone calls, set one more face to face appointment, do whatever is needed to put yourself in the best situation to succeed. Hard work is not the only recipe to success, but long term success is impossible without it.

Consistency

It seems simple: Be consistent. Do the little things right every single day.  But, it’s tough to do. Consistency requires great discipline. It’s easy to fall into bad habits.

Travis Baker
Travis Baker

Travis Baker, Inside Sales Manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks says, “There isn’t much that separates the good reps from the great reps on our staff.  Because of our hiring process everyone is talented and everyone works hard.  So it comes down to day in and day out consistency, as well as a refusal to lose.”

Make a conscious effort to stick to the fundamentals. Do the little things right every day that others do not have the discipline to do. It adds up after a full sales campaign.  I always feel more confident in a salesperson’s long term success if s/he produces revenue consistently instead of making a big sale every now and again.

Discomfort

Some of the best advice I ever received: If you are not stepping out of your comfort zone, then you are not challenging yourself to grow.

For most new salespeople, it’s uncomfortable to strike up a conversation with a random stranger. It’s uncomfortable to ask someone you just met (and then tells you no multiple times) to spend thousands of dollars.  But, you are tasked with doing this as a salesperson.  The fear of the unknown is too much of a risk for some. They play it safe. They stick with comfortable.  The best salespeople understand that if they do not take risks–do not get out of their comfort zones–then they will not reach their full potential.

Initiative

All sales reps typically have the same resources at their disposal.  They receive the same training, same types of leads to call, and the same products to sell.

Success comes down to what you do with the opportunity.  Look at inside sales as more than just another job. The best reps see it as the start to their careers.  They are all-in. They give 100% commitment to whatever it takes to be the best.  Losing is never an option.  When things don’t go their way they don’t make excuses. The best reps proactively seek help from a boss, a mentor, or peers. Even when there’s little overall sales momentum, they find ways to create momentum for themselves and their sales team.  During training with new hires I always share a quote from Will Rogers, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Skip to toolbar