With Apple’s headquarters right down the street, you would expect the teams in Silicon Valley to be digitally-savvy and data-driven. We were not disappointed, as the teams from San Jose demonstrated how they employ business intelligence to generate revenue.
Sharks Leadership Analytics-Driven
Flavil Hampsten, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, began honing his sales & marketing analytic skills to drive revenue while completing his MBA at Arizona State in 2009 and serving as Vice President of Ticket Sales at the Phoenix Coyotes, before heading to the Charlotte Hornets and now back in the NHL at the Sharks. Neda Tabatabaie was brought in at the Sharks to implement a cohesive data strategy when Mr. Hampsten arrived in 2015.
CRM Boosts Sales
S3 graduate McKenzie Bryan said, “I really enjoyed hearing from the Sharks on how well they integrate CRM/Analytics into the sales department and all of the ways a solid CRM system helps sales.” The Sharks organization encourages utilization of CRM to achieve more efficient and effective sales numbers. Beyond this, however, the Sharks want salespeople to be analytical and intentional as they attempt to make connections with current and future fans.
49ers Commit Headcount to Analytics
Hayley Di Naso, Hospitality Sales Executive (S3 ’15), hosted us at the 49ers. Following a stadium tour, Demar Amacker and Paul Epstein explained the organizational structure and integral nature of CRM as strategy working hand-in-hand with sales. The Business Strategy & Analytics group, led by Moon Javaid, includes five staff members with analytics responsibilities.
S3 Senior Jacob Kurian appreciated how “every aspect of the experience at Levi’s Stadium has been thoroughly planned out.” The 49ers have created an authentic atmosphere in the stadium that reflects much of what people in the area value. Levi’s Stadium uses repurposed redwood finishing in its concourses and has 16 (Joe Montana’s number) native plant species growing on the patio atop the building. The stadium also showcases an impressive collection of local artwork.
StubHub and Baylor S3 created a partnership to reward motivated, analytically-talented S3 students with an expenses paid trip to the Bay area. The inaugural S3 StubHub Analytics All-Stars group visited San Francisco for three days, gaining valuable interaction time with representatives from some of the Bay’s sports industry leaders. Thanks to StubHub’s generosity, we spent three days visiting with executives from StubHub, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Sharks, and San Francisco Giants.
S3 Senior Ian Young said, “It was great to see the variety of career paths people have taken to get to where they are in the sports industry. I really got a feel of how closely connected people are in the sports industry and how best practices are shared among teams.” Young also commented on the value of being data-driven as an organization. Each organization relies on a data strategy to generate revenue utilizing analytics, CRM, and BI/BA to derive actionable insights.
The StubHub Data-Driven Culture
Our group began the circuit of Bay area sports and entertainment properties by visiting StubHub’s corporate offices. Located in downtown San Francisco, the office encapsulates much of the Silicon Valley atmosphere and emphasis on creating a comfortable, enjoyable work environment.
S3 students received a tour of the office followed by interactive panel discussions with six StubHub employees whose positions touched many of the company’s various focuses. S3 Senior Jonathan Roselli found value in “understanding how analytics are used to report, optimize and predict performance.”
If you are interested in the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program at Baylor, visit www.baylor.edu/business/s3. Prospective students and transfers can find out more about their tickets to a career in sports. Like StubHub and other S3 Leadership partners, organizations can learn about supporting the growth of talent for the industry by visiting www.baylor.edu/business/s3/board. Look for more stories with insights from executives we met at the Warriors, 49ers, Sharks, and Giants in the coming weeks.
Since launching the first Sports CRM & Analytics track in the U.S in 2011, the S3 program is the leader in placing graduates in data analytics roles at teams [Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Texans, San Antonio Spurs, Madison Square Garden, New York Yankees, Denver Nuggets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Orlando Magic, Miami Dolphins, , Utah Jazz, University of Southern California] and sports-related companies [KORE Software, Stone Timber River, Eventellect, E-15 Group, The Company, Legends Hospitality, and SportsDesk Media].
According to Nielsen, Millennials spend more time on mobile devices than on TV. So, how do we reach them? We find them where they are and sell the way they like to buy.
Geo-Targeting: Raiders Case Study
Where people come from influences how they buy–and how much they’ll pay and when. Working with our partners at StubHub, we find out-of-town fans are willing to pay significantly more, even as game time approaches. Below we see the difference in ticket prices paid for Raiders games in 2016, which is similar to other markets with respect to time and distance. Using geo-targeting, we can target campaigns (e.g., Google AdWords; emails) based on location.
Single-game buyers and, increasingly, multiple-game buyers prefer choosing individual games (vs. ticket plans) when they want to buy and when they want to go. Young consumers have always been variety-seekers. But, Nielsen reports all buyers are increasingly focusing on a wider variety of entertainment options than in the past. Buyers aren’t just thinking about your team (i.e., the Raiders). They may just as easily click on the next Groupon, social media offer, or Yelp recommendation.
Today’s ticket buyer is twice as likely to visit ticket websites (primary & secondary sources) than to directly contact the team. Younger buyers expect frictionless[ref]Read more about frictionless service here.[/ref] experiences. That’s why teams optimize for mobile sales and distribute tickets on secondary markets to take advantage of buyers where they are and how they want to buy.
What do buyers really want?
You need to know how seats are moving in the open market to appropriately set season ticket and individual game prices to maximize revenue.
Ticket distributors (e.g., Eventellect) and sellers (e.g., StubHub) help teams understand the dynamic nature of markets by analyzing what inventory sells through and at what prices. Sample data for an NCAA property (left) illustrates a typical pattern of average ticket prices (ATP) by seating area and the percentage of those tickets which sold (STR: Sell Thru Rate).
Buyers are less price sensitive for sports & entertainment events than for pretty much anything else. [ref]Wakefield & Inman (2003), “Situational price sensitivity: The role of consumption occasion, social context and income,” Journal of Retailing, Vol 79(4), 2003, 199-212.[/ref] Here, the highest priced premium seats ($900+) and the Field Club ($250) seats sell through well (75-80%). The lower STR (67%) for Stadium Club seats suggests needed adjustments to improve perceived value compared to the more or less expensive seats nearby. The high STR on New Alumni seats suggests the team could raise those prices, but may have overshot the mark on the Gold Zone seats. Without this data, this team would continue to leave money on the table or empty seats with inefficient pricing schedules.
The right side of the charts above show the hottest seat sections on the market for this team. If they offer inventory using dynamic pricing, share revenue with a consolidator, or (opaquely) distribute via a ticket provider like StubHub, they will capitalize on the high demand for specific sections (e.g., Benchback I and Gold Zones W and CC).
When should we release inventory and adjust prices?
Most individual game tickets sell during the week prior to the event. Well over a third sell in the last 72 hours. As the sample data shows below, advance ticket buyers are willing to pay more (ATP = $128) compared to those buying in the month leading up to the event (ATP = $72).
When should tickets be released for individual purchase? Earlier is better. Some teams hold tickets back to release close to game time. But, we can see this is not the best time to get the highest price. In a forthcoming journal article, we find that experienced sports & entertainment buyers have learned it’s better to wait to buy. But, if you want to sell high–like to out-of-town visitors and other infrequent, inexperienced buyers, supply needs to increase well in advance.
We’ve been analyzing retail pricing strategies for over 25 years. Pricing strategies in sports are quickly catching up with corporate practices, but much less is known about pricing intangible services than pricing tangible goods and products.
If you’d like to learn more about opportunities to analyze your ticket data or gain more insights, feel free to reach out to our friends at StubHub: Charlie Rockman, Nick Rudolph, and Adam Budelli. If your organization is interested in collaborating in our research center, please contact Kirk Wakefield.
StubHub sells a ticket at least once every second. Over 21 million unique highly qualified buyers visit StubHub every month. Last year (2016), StubHub sold over $4.2 billion in tickets. That total essentially places StubHub in a league by itself, comparable to the NBA or Premiere League and more than the total revenues of the NHL, Bundesliga or La Liga.
In this article we present three of these insights related to demographics, search habits and mobile use in ticket purchase. Next month we will follow with insights on geo-targeting, conversion to ticket plan buyers, and inventory management given the timing of purchase behavior.
Demographics of online ticket buyers
Knowing half the females in the DFW metroplex are Dallas Cowboys fans, the Cowboys launched www.5pointsblue.com to offer content written by female staff members. The content appeals to the female fan base, but a broader audience as well, generating 350,000+ monthly visits. Other properties would do well to emulate the initiative to serve its entire fan base in a way that meets needs and preferences.
As seen below, we see a slight shift in females buying online (43%), but more importantly the Average Order Value (AOV) increased among first time female buyers versus first time male buyers. As millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest generation this past year, so has the percentage of younger buyers. These young buyers may see concerts and other events as viable entertainment options to sports. Commensurately, we see more lower-income first-time buyers–who will be tomorrow’s potential season ticket holders. The question is: How are teams serving the buying needs of this younger segment that will translate into future ticket buying fans?
Ticket Search: Event, Team or Date?
Knowing how people search is one of the keys to successful Google AdWords campaigns. Which of these is most likely to show up in a relevant search?
Event (Cavs vs. Rockets)
Team (e.g., Cleveland Cavaliers) or artist (Justin Timberlake)
Date (Friday, December 1, 2017)
We might think new buyers typically want to see a specific event on a certain date. We would be wrong. Instead, buyers increasingly and foremost search for the team or artist, rather than having a specific event or date in mind. Furthermore, last minute purchases (33%) and on-the-go (not at home/office) are the major reasons for purchasing via mobile. So, if we want to reach people where they are–with phones in hand–we best be mobile and search-engine optimized for quick access.
Mobile First Strategy
In 2014, 41% of traffic and 20% of sales came via mobile for StubHub. Just two years later, 60% of traffic and 42% of sales came via mobile. In general, revenue from 2015 to 2016 is increasing via online purchases, but disproportionately via mobile in terms of tickets sold (+25%) and total sales (+44%) compared to tickets sold via desktop (-3%) and total sales (+10%). (See graphic at the top of this article.)
Expect the trend toward mobile to continue. In the past the majority of time spent on mobile was searching, but most purchases of goods and services were made on desktops. But, as StubHub and others with native apps improve the mobile experience, more will shift to mobile purchases. As seen below, the majority of purchases are still on desktops, but more bought via mobile devices and native apps in 2016 than 2015. The most mobile-friendly buyers are football (NCAA & NFL) fans, but the growth in mobile purchases will extend across leagues.
In short, the takeaway insights are:
Target females the way they consume content and make purchases.
Manage search engine campaigns aimed at team/artist searches, more so than event or date.
Optimize for mobile ticket purchases. If your mobile sales are not growing at the same rate as the market, you are not mobile optimized.
When do people buy? And what happens to average ticket price over time? We know over one-third now wait until the last 72 hours to purchase. To learn more, come back for next month’s release.
After arranging & supervising hundreds of sports internships for the last dozen or so years, Dr. Darryl Lehnus and I devised a system that works well for us.
Ideally, partners provide the internship with the same objective of developing and evaluating talent in view of future employment there or elsewhere. Our partners see intern successes as their successes, as it reflects on their abilities to train, motivate, and model excellent performance.
Among others, the Pittsburgh Pirates B.U.C.S Academy and the New York Mets are ahead of the game in organizing internships and recruiting to careers. While many teams and companies provide summer internships, the Houston Texans (sponsorships) and Houston Astros (CRM) provide 9-12 month postgraduate internships specifically for our graduates to gain more in-depth training before launching careers.
Initiate follow-up with interviews to (a) hire or (b) refer for hiring.
Five Not-So-Easy Steps
From a process standpoint, partners follow these five steps. We’ll explain each in turn.
Prepare students for careers.
Determine parameters & responsibilities.
Define, communicate and evaluate on criteria that predict success.
Hold students responsible.
Review insights & follow-through with students.
Prepare students for careers
Ask employers what they want. Continue to ask.
Too many prepare students for sports marketing or sports management jobs. The only problem is no entry level positions exist for “sports marketer” or “sports manager.” Entry level positions do exist in ticket sales, sponsorship sales & service/fulfillment, CRM, and analytics. Design coursework and programs accordingly.
Business schools have courses in professional selling, database management, statistics and predictive modeling, and data visualization (Excel, Tableau, etc.). Take advantage of these courses in planning curriculum requirements. When employers see you take them seriously, they’ll line up for your students.
Determine Parameters & Responsibilities
Once employers agree, we send them a link to an online form to identify the supervisor, time frame (start, finish, hours per week, pay or course credit), and responsibilities. Most likely you’ve already discussed this, but best to not be surprised at the end of the term that the internship didn’t include a vital part of what they needed to experience.
After selecting the type of internship, the employer completes the appropriate section for what the intern will do. Our forms are below.
Define, communicate and evaluate criteria for success
Every year the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) publish a list of attributes most desired of new hires. These could differ among some, but odds are they are the same. With a little adaptation, we use these for midterm and final evaluations by the intern’s direct supervisor.
Responses on the primary criteria (below) are shared with the intern in a meeting with the academic advisor. We also ask about punctuality, attitude, performance, and overall grade from the direct supervisor of the internship at the employer. The entire form may be downloaded here.
Sports Internship Evaluation Criteria
Specific to our own preparation and values, we ask students to be 2nd milers. When asked to do something (walk a mile), go above and beyond expectations (go the second mile). Supervisors rate the intern accordingly (below).
Hold students responsible
Students should perform well in the internship. We expect that.
We also expect them to reflect on what they learn. Keeping a daily or weekly journal is recommended.At the end of the term, students must submit the S3 Internship Report Form (click to download) regarding a weekly log of hours, assignments, volunteering, accomplishments, application of class material, issues (problems or challenges & resolutions), culture, behavioral adaptation, recommendations, and net promoter score rating for the internship.
Review insights & follow-through with students
Meet with each student to get his or her take on the evaluation provided in Step 3. Usually there are no surprises. Employers do a good job of picking up on areas for improvement that you’ve likely noticed in class. So, it’s nice to have someone else see it and say it.
Generally, these are great times to encourage students in careers. On occasion, you can use these to give appropriate kicks in the pants. We’ve seen these have fairly drastic effects on capable students who needed to get with the program. On occasion, you find some who need to find another program. The wide world of sports, perhaps the same as other industries (but we think more so),demands a high level of commitment. We help students by holding them to a high standard.
Providing good internship experiences takes effort on the part of the academic advisor, student, and employer. But, working together, internships are the foundation for successful careers. No class, book or assignment can substitute for on-the-job reality training.
The very best part of what we do is to see students succeed in their careers.
Feel free to borrow, steal, or adapt any or all of the attached materials! If you’ve found other things that work well, please let us know!
Business intelligence is old school. Business analytics is new school. Sport business analytics is finally going to school. In the past decade, interest grew beyond the 100 or so nerds at the first MIT Sports Analytics Conference to sellout crowds (>3000 geeks and wannabes) today. At the same time, courses and programs have emerged to educate tomorrow’s sports business analysts.
In all fairness, I acknowledge a number of the chapter authors are associates. My intent, then, in this book review is to not treat them as I do my friends, but will instead try to be considerate and complimentary.
The Evolution & Impact of Business Analytics in Sport
The question, “What is analytics? Really?” is often raised among academics. Professors and data scientists tend to think of analytics as using advanced statistical techniques to model and predict behaviors based on (big) data. Practitioners may refer to analytics when they really mean reporting.
In the opening chapter overview of the text, Scott Bukstein states the core purpose of sport business analytics is “to convert raw data into meaningful, value-added and actionable information that enables sport business professionals to make strategic business decisions, which then result in improved company financial performance and a measurable and sustainable competitive advantage.” In short, analytics is any “data-driven process as well as any actionable insights derived from data.”
Consistent with this understanding, the book chapters provide good case examples of data-driven processes that produce actionable insights. In large part, many of the chapters read as a series of case studies with examples of how organizations implement analytics. The chapters provide instruction to understand what leading teams and companies do on a day-to-day basis, as well as propose thought-provoking ideas for practitioners.
In Chapter 2, Jay Riola offers replicable examples of how the Orlando Magic use customer data to target and engage fan segments through appropriate digital channels and devices. Other teams would do well to learn from the success of the Magic’s Fast Break Pass and season ticket holder app, as thoroughly explained by Jay in this chapter.
Using ticket pricing analytics, Troy Kirby does a great job explaining how the secondary market is the primary market, in Chapter 3. Troy makes the argument that a ticket may eventually evolve beyond its current revocable license legal status to a material good, allowing greater freedom for fans to use and resell however they wish. The practical upshot of these two chapters is teams must more quickly adapt to digital channels–whether owned by the team or others–to provide value to fans. Teams with NIH attitudes will suffer.
Data Management & Marketing
Ray Mathew offers a basic understanding of how teams use CRM to gather and analyze customer data for use in targeted marketing campaigns in Chapter 4. Since CRM coordinators are typical entry-level positions, interested learners should be motivated to self-learn, intern, or take courses in CRM to prepare for careers in data management in sports. This chapter provides a good foundation for students to understand if this is a viable career path for them.
Michael Farris provides an overview of the Aspire Group’s 8-point ticket marketing, sales and service philosophy in Chapter 5. Academic programs lacking courses in marketing strategy will benefit from the Aspire Group’s marriage of marketing with analytics. Programs housed in business schools will also appreciate founder Bernie Mullin‘s sound approach to management and marketing. The application of the model to the experiences of Georgia Tech are particularly insightful for NCAA programs. Plus, students in classes adopting this text will go into interviews with Aspire knowing what they’re all about!
Research & Applications
Chapter 6 leans closer to the professor or data scientist’s POV of business analytics. Michael Lewis, Manish Tripathi and Michael Byman address the importance of calculating, tracking, and managing customer lifetime value (CLT) and related functions of brand and fan equity. CLV is critical to model retention and seat-buying decisions. The authors present insights into NFL team’s fan equity and social media equity to pinpoint pricing and promotion opportunities. Updates among leagues are available on Michael Lewis’ blog at Emory University (follow link here).
John Breedlove illustrates how teams use analytics to improve the performance of sales reps with targeted campaigns to open the door to warm leads. In this chapter (7), John illustrates the importance of keeping analytics simple to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Combining public (secondary) and private (primary) data can provide insights to make decisions, as when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used public geodemographic information to help set prices and target customer segments. This chapter provides a good explanation and case study for A/B testing.
Digital Media Analytics
Duke University serves its huge fan base through its crowdsourced data visualization platform know as #DukeMBBStats. Ryan Craig provides an engaging explanation of the process Duke followed to grow the platform. Ryan’s chapter (8) offers direction for other NCAA and pro organizations to create fan profiles to authentically and personally engage fans with effective marketing strategies to enhance renewals.
Michael Lorenc and Alexandra Gonzalez present a fascinating chapter (9) on leveraging digital marketing to drive revenue, relying on data from their employer (Google) to paint a picture of today’s digital buyer. Evidence shows the potential ROI on digital marketing informed by audience, acquisition, and behavioral and conversions data via Google Analytics. You’ll be analyzing your own website and digital marketing before you finish the chapter.
Sponsorship Valuation & Affinity Groups
Adam Grossman and Irving Rein provide one of the best summaries I’ve read on the state-of-the art in sponsorship valuation. [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Where audience analysis often fails is the inability to recognize that it is never static.” ~Grossman & Rein[/dropshadowbox] The authors provide descriptions of inherent valuation (profits generated by sponsorship assets), relative valuation (comparing CPMs across channels), and comparable valuation (comparing the price of assets offered by different properties), as well as how best to communicate to particular audiences. In addition to teaching at Northwestern (along with Professor Rein), Adam founded Block Six Analytics, using analytics and technology to help brands and teams generate revenue.
Co-editor C. Keith Harrison of the text, along with Suzanne Malia Lawrence, introduce the concept of “live analytics” in Chapter 11 to study and understand affinity groups and develop marketing plans accordingly. Live analytics, in this case, means distributing surveys during events, collecting and analyzing the results, and then creating innovative ways to engage fans. They provide an example of the Gridiron Girls football clinic at Montana State University. Another good example at the pro level is the Dallas Cowboys 5-Points Blue designed for female fans, based on extensive primary research and analysis of other NFL teams to differentiate the affinity group.
Talent Analytics & Data-Driven Storytelling
Brandon Moyer explains how the Aspire Group and others use analytics to hire and develop talent in the business of sports. At Aspire, they look for employees with WHOPPPP:
Honesty, integrity & character
Openness to learning
Passion for sport business & sales
Potential for leadership
This chapter (12) provides other examples of how teams and companies (should) use data-driven approaches to hire and evaluate personnel.
Ryan Sleeper illustrates a variety of data visualization approaches to enhance storytelling–or communication–with the intended audience in Chapter 13. Effective visualization reduces time to insight, increases accuracy and improves engagement. The lesson here, again, is: Keep it simple. Ryan offers engaging examples of how to hook an audience–like converting a league standings table into a map to quickly gauge relative team performance. See more of his Tableau tips at his website. While we are at it, we strongly recommend taking a course in Tableau if your goal is to succeed in the business of sports.
Michael Mondello provides a concluding chapter on how to teach a sports business analytics course. Dr. Mondello provides helpful examples of his approach to class relative to content delivery, class assignments, and exams.
The approach in the Sport Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program is to combine the Sport Business Analytics text (most Mondays) followed by lab instruction (most Wednesdays) using Microsoft Dynamics 365 to learn CRM and marketing automation processes reliant upon analytics. Microsoft IT Imagine Academy provides video instruction for learners at member Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance schools. Code Academy offers free courses on related data management topics, such as SQL.
To assist others using the text, below is a list of key terms for each chapter. To give the reader of this review an idea of the concepts and content, the first and last chapter are complete with definitions. The first chapter outline also provides tips on studying, just in case some students are still trying to figure that out. Other chapters contain key terms/concepts only. Feel free to download, edit and use for your own class purposes.
Efficient and effective salespeople convert ticket buyers into season ticket holders and serve their needs. However, the secondary market is the primary market for many fans who do not differentiate between buying from StubHub, TicketMaster or the team’s website. What do these buyers look like? How do they buy? Where do they buy? What is important to them?
The Online Ticket Buyer Profile infographic offers an overview of our initial findings from a wide-ranging study of 688 recent online ticket buyers of tickets. Given the time of year and panel source, we draw primarily from NFL, MLB, and NBA ticket buyers, but also have representation from NHL and a few MLS buyers. All bought tickets within the past 12 months.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Three things will make CRM a great tool for your organization:
ease of use, and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.