Selling Collegiate Sports: Happy Customers = Sales

Selling Collegiate Sports: Happy Customers = Sales
by Bryce Killingsworth – May 2014

Collegiate ticket sales departments continue to expand. Some hired into these new sales positions have training in professional selling, while others may have worked their ways through college internships into the first open position that suits their aptitudes and attitudes. So, whether we are trained to sell or are just thrown into the fire, it’s always good to examine the fundamentals of adaptive selling–particularly in the collegiate setting. It all starts with creating connections.

Creating connections (prospecting)

sales funnelConsistently creating connections prevents sales slumps. Prospecting fills the funnel to prepare for the future.

In college sports, this aspect seems to be overlooked or at minimum on the bottom of the priority list. Hopefully you have a priority list.

Investing time and energy generating prospects reap the benefits of new business as you build relationships. A few primary ways we prospect at Oklahoma State include: Warm calls (not really cold calls with the data we have), asking for referrals, and networking at our athletic events.

 Analyzing needs (understanding customers)

Understanding customer behavior and preferences will improve customer satisfaction which in turn will increase retention rates. To sell, up-sell and cross-sell to multiple sports, use data to:

  1. identify when a customer places an order,
  2. how they pay,
  3. where they like to sit,
  4. where they are traveling from (residence), and
  5. other data collected that influences ticket purchases.

Consistent–systematic–contact helps inform them of packages and offers and to receive valuable feedback.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Mike Wendling“The more information we have about our consumers the more ‘Surprise and Delight’ opportunities we can orchestrate. These unique touch points show our fans that we care more about them than their check book.” – Mike Wendling, Director of Ticketing Analytics, @WendlingMike[/dropshadowbox]A simple tool our Director of Analytics utilizes to help understand customer needs is by asking a couple of questions when the customer creates an online account with us. For example: Which sports are you interested in? Are you interested in Suite, Club, or Stadium seating? Being creative is imperative at a university as you may be operating with limited funds.

 Addressing customer needs (proposing solutions)

How you address needs can make or break a sale. Remember, you are a problem-solver, there to help make their lives better.

Briefly describe one or more solutions of product, service, or combination of both to offer the customer. Proposing an unknown or unsought, but valuable, solution creates loyal followers. Examples include:

  • [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]jess martin“Customer service is not just a skill set; it’s a culture that is contagious when you hire the right type of people. In today’s competitive world, fans desire to do repeat business with organizations that they trust and are comfortable with. Having a great customer service culture in place gives you a definite competitive advantage at earning and keeping their business.” — Jesse Martin, Senior Associate Athletic Director, Oklahoma State University, @JesseMartinOSU[/dropshadowbox]payment plans for a young family,
  • aisle seats for a tall person,
  • top row of the section below the concourse for an elder with knee problems,
  • suite for a company who now realizes the benefits of entertaining clients, and
  • placing customers in a seating section (e.g., West end zone area) to avoid the sun.

Discussing benefits

One of the primary benefits of a season ticket holder is social distinction. Season ticket holders enjoy feeling that sense of a community among fans, but also enjoy recognition as a member of an exclusive group. Creating limited discounts and perks among only the season ticket holder community is vital in order to prove it’s more beneficial to pony up for the entire season.

Utilizing data to identify specific types of benefits to engage season ticket holders may be the deciding factor in closing a sale. It could be exclusive access, memorable experiences, or valuable savings that enhance the value of season tickets. If you have the data to know that Bob buys 4 hot-dogs for his family per game, Bob will most likely appreciate a 30% off concessions discount compared to 10% off apparel at the stadium store.

Overcoming objections

real time sales tracking food & beverage merchandise
Real time sales tracking

In overcoming an objection focus on:

  1. empathizing,
  2. transparency, and
  3. appreciation.

Most customer problems can be readily handled if we actively listening and identify the customers concern. Remaining honest, transparent and open goes a long way.

If you think about it, objections come from customers who want your product. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t waste time explaining. If you’re honest about the best you can do with seating, pricing, etc., more times than not the customer will accept your best option–if they trust you.

To retain customers and gain referrals, show appreciation to customers and even former customers. By responding to the drop in business with nothing but respect and understanding, you create a pleasant experience resulting in valued word-of-mouth. Even without the expected ROI, appreciate them because you’re a professional.

Establishing & maintaining relationships

One of the primary reasons a customer intentionally desires a relationship with you is because you have become a treasured resource.

Maintaining a relationship and becoming a resource begins with consistency and reliability:

  1. Return phone calls,
  2. Follow up on a deadline,
  3. Be available at times the customer needs you,
  4. Ask customers for feedback, and
  5. Picking up the phone.

Asking for feedback with a purpose speaks volumes about your commitment to the service you provide, and how you can better the customer experience.

Pick up the phone. Not just to answer an incoming call. Pick up the phone and call your customers.  You’re a robot to them until you provide some personal connection. And it’s difficult to become loyal to a robot…unless your name is Siri.

 

 

 

 

 

Ticketing technology: How can we reduce barriers for renewals?

Ticketing technology: How can we reduce barriers for renewals?
by Chris Faulkner – April 2013

As technology rapidly moves forward and clients become more savvy using social media and mobile technology, we need to adapt the way we conduct our ticketing business. 

Premium seating, in particular, deals with ample amounts of data from proposals from salespeople, accounts, data, contracts, and paperwork.  With all of the fancy mobile devices, apps, and tablet technology, how can we start to simplify processes to get better results, more sales and more renewals?

Tuning into the right channel

At the Denver Broncos we turned to Channel 1 Media and their e-brochure technology platform.  The e-signature technology was key in order to create fewer hurdles to doing business and simplify our internal processes.

This past season we had 2,691 seats up for renewal in our United Club, giving our small service staff a huge task in getting all accounts renewed and more importantly making a large piece of our total revenue pie at risk.  The e-renewal piece would capitalize on the excitement of the season, but more significantly allow our clients to sign their renewal electronically in a couple of simple steps.

In years past we created a printed brochure, including personal mail merged contract information specific to each account, mail out, and follow up with a phone campaign to chase down renewals.  Our clients would then have to sign the renewal contract, mail or scan back to us, we would countersign and email or mail back to the client: a painfully slow and dated process.

Rescuing at-risk renewals

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Dennis Moore
Dennis Moore

At the Denver Broncos we strive to be on the forefront of ticketing technology as it evolves into the future. Our goal is to create efficiencies for our staff and allow more frequent and easier interaction with our most valued clients. [/dropshadowbox]The e-renewal piece also allowed us to capture the specific renewal data in real time and target specific “at risk” accounts over the course of the 4 -week renewal period.  We had 883 unique Personal URLs (PURLS) created for our 2,691 expiring seats.  After emailing out we could see immediately who clicked on their links, what pages they were viewing, how long they were on the site, and ultimately when they signed the renewal.

Once signed, an email notification was sent directly to the service rep on the account for follow up.  Over 85% of the links were clicked through multiple times. We were able to renew at our highest percentage since the building opened.  We targeted accounts not opening the link along with those that opened but had not e-signed the renewal yet.  We also converted the same piece to an iPad application for service reps to take to present the offer on face-to-face appointments in-game and outside the office.

Looking forward

As a sales manger, reporting real time data and understanding the behavior of clients helps the organization as we make pricing and renewal incentive decisions moving forward.  The ultimate focus, creating less hurdles for the customer, in turn, resulted in a higher renewal rate.   By embracing the growing technological developments, ticketing and client service operations become more efficient while providing an overall exceptional experience for the client.

 

 

How has social media changed consultative selling?

How has social media changed consultative selling?
Monika Fahlbusch
Monika Fahlbusch
by Ben Milsom – March 2013

“Business is social.  So my number one tip for impressing our recruiters is connect and interact with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter” says Monika Fahlbusch, SVP of Global Employee Success at Salesforce.com.

We have far more advanced tools than ever to find information about anyone.  For the right price you can buy software to provide detailed information about anyone you want to meet, including their friends and spouses.  I was recently on a phone call with a colleague of mine discussing a potential job candidate. He paused and said, “Let me check their LinkedIn page before calling them.”

There’s no where to hide anymore. You really can’t afford to. Social connectivity can make or break your personal brand, help you get to know your clients or prospects better, and can even get you that dream job. If you’re in sales and service, social media is critical to your success:

“Social media allows for a 360 degree view of the customer with so many more touch points to the customer and interaction it is easier to get a full view of what the customer needs and wants.” ~ Bryan Apgar, Associate Vice President of Sales and Business Development, www.websitealive.com.

Bryan Apgar
Bryan Apgar

People expect you to know more about them than in previous years.  With LinkedIn and company websites, one should never ask a prospect, “What do you do? How did you get to this position?” or “Please tell me about your company.”

Let’s get personal

I retrieved this email from my deleted folder. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”650px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Hello Ben,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to follow up on an email that was sent to you earlier regarding Clueless.

Clueless is a global leader in support software. Our tool, Clue-On enables you to create, manage and deliver content in multiple formats with one click. I have attached some general information for your review.

I would like to schedule a quick call to chat with you about our product and see if it might benefit you and your organization. Would you be open to discussing this?

Thank you,

Bill Smith
Account Executive
Clueless, www.cluelesssoftware.com
254.710.5555
bsmith@cluelesssoftware.com[/dropshadowbox]

Bill is sending hundreds of these emails a day hoping five people will respond.  He only personalized by changing my first name. Bill even asked the dreaded open-ended question.  If Bill mentioned what I do, some potential challenges I may face, or even searched LinkedIn to find a mutual connection, I would have responded.

Jeff Eldersveld

With so much information available it only tells me Bill and his company are too clueless or lazy to use it.  I doubt I’d ever respond to this company in the future.

” Teams need to do everything within their power to provide outstanding customer service because one bad experience can be exacerbated when released in the digital and social media world.” ~ Jeff Eldersveld, Director of CRM and Analytics, Columbus Blue Jackets

What to do?

In this environment of social connectivity and transparency I recommend:

  • Be different.  Emails and texts are common, personal touches make a big impact.
  • Dig deeper.  Know your client or prospect and ask them questions you can’t read in their LinkedIn profile.
  • Care about your personal brand.  Be sure you are up to date on how you want your brand to be perceived.

How to manage the new generation of sellers

How to manage the new generation of sellers
by Murray Cohn – January 2013 

Part 1

“I want it all. I want it now.”

On a recent team visit I met an entry level ticket seller who’d been there two months.   He said, “Murray, I am ready to manage my own staff. I know everything I need to learn about ticket sales.” Laughing, I looked at him and said, “I have been doing this for 25 years and I still learn every day.” I added, “Plus, to make that statement, it might help if you were first on the sales board instead of eighth out of twelve.” Read more

What drives fan passion?

What drives fan passion?
by Kirk Wakefield – January 2013

What makes a passionate fan?

A passionate fan devotes heart, mind, body, and soul to the team. The consequences of a passionate fan base are increased ticket, media, merchandise and sponsorship revenue to the team.

But what are the antecedents to fan passion? What causes fans to be passionate?

Researching passion across thousands of fans and all major sports, we can now explain the vast majority (~75%) of the WHY fans are passionate for a particular team and not a fan of another team. Teams become popular when it becomes part of CULTURE.

Colin Faulkner
Colin Faulkner

In Chicago, “Cubs fans are part of a special group; the best fans in baseball who get to call the best place to watch baseball their home, Wrigley Field,” explains Colin Faulkner, Vice President, Ticket Sales & Service with the Cubs. The experience fans get at Wrigley make it cool to be a Cubs fan and it provides a positive identity for fans. It’s become part of the Chicago culture.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Fan passion is based on the team’s CULTURE:

Cool: Is the team cool, original, and different from other teams?
Unique: Does the team occupy a distinct space in the sports marketplace based on their exclusive logo, brand name, and singular quality, design, colors or style?
Love: Do fans love the players on the team? Are fans emotionally attached to players?
Trust: Do fans trust the organization running the team to be dependable, competent, responsive, and to act with integrity?
Utility: For what fans get for what they give up in time, effort, and money, what is the value of a ticket to a game?
Relationships: What does the image of the team say about fans to others? Does following the team bring social approval?
Experiential: Does the game environment allow fans to enjoy the experience and entertainment? Does the game experience build evangelists for the team?[/dropshadowbox]

 

We can score and rank teams on how strong the CULTURE is for teams in their markets. This data offers marketing diagnostics for teams and quantifies value for brands evaluating sponsorships.

An example

We took a sample of 430 students at Baylor University to measure their passion for professional teams in Texas. Given our location 90 minutes away, students are biased toward DFW teams.1

 

Culture, Passion, and Fans

Implications

1. Fan perceptions of team performance doesn’t necessarily predict passion. Students accurately see the Texans as one of the best performing teams and the Astros the worst, but this doesn’t correspond with how passionate they are about these teams. In fact, once we statistically account for the other elements of CULTURE, performance doesn’t help explain fan passion at all.

2. The Cowboys have not performed particularly well on the field in the past 15 years. Why are they so popular? Because they effectively position themselves as a cool, unique franchise with an exciting game experience. They have become part of the CULTURE.

3. The Spurs are frequently recognized as one of the best run franchises. While these students have a bias toward the DFW teams, they recognize the trust fans have in the Spurs organization.

Mike Birdsall
Mike Birdsall

4. The utility–or perceived value–of ticket prices is closely related to fan passion and the experience at the game. The true value of tickets is never a matter of cost, but always a matter of passion and past experiences.

What can teams do to build a CULTURE of passionate fans? Next month we’ll discuss, among other things, how organizations can build passionate fans by upgrading the experience and developing coolness.

“At Penn State football, if you missed the awesome touchdown catch, no worries. Pull out your smartphone and watch as many times as you want from multiple angles,” explains Mike Birdsall, FanConnex. “Don’t want to wait in line for food? At Stanford you can order food from your seat and receive a text when it’s ready to pick up at a special express window.”

 

 


Survey was taken the week prior to the Rangers falling out of first place.