Introducing MailChimp for iSportsTix

We are excited to introduce you to our newest feature: MailChimp for iSportsTix, the perfect way to keep your MailChimp marketing lists up-to-date right from your iSportsTix sales management portal. Forget about the hours you’ve spent exporting and importing your marketing lists … now your Ticket Reps have the power to keep the email interests of their accounts and prospects updated at a moments notice.

iSportsTix 3.19 officially launches the first week of June … here are a few more features that are included:

  • MailChimp Integration
  • Lead Generation Tool
  • New Client Type: Contacts
  • Expanded Lead/Prospect Importer
  • Enhancements to Order, Transactions, and Balance Sheet reports

… and we’ll get right back after it over the summer! Look for future iSportsTix features like automated sales flow, VOIP phone integration and several sponsorship module enhancements.

The Hottest Leads … YOUR RENEWALS!

I don’t have to argue the fact that the hottest ticket revenue leads, year in and year out, are your current customers … people who have experienced your product and hopefully like it! Some sports organizations are fortunate enough to have a waiting list, but for the majority of teams this is not the case and we must focus our efforts on getting that renewal percentage to 80% and above!

So HOW and WHY do clients renew? Over the course of several years in sports business I have observed some key factors that I feel are essential to a successful renewal season.

Start Renewal Season Early

Start your renewal season early and don’t be afraid to launch the process during a current season! It may seem obvious to strike while  excitement is in the air, but I have seen many organizations wait until after the season ends to approach their ticket plan holders about renewing their tickets for next season.

It never hurts to start prior to the playoffs, of for that matter, before playoff seeding is decided (hey, less than perfect seasons happen to everyone). Approaching your fans while they still have that ‘playoff hope’ might help you elude the “our team sucks,” NO WAY responses.

Make Paying Easy

In my early years I witnessed the “escalating” payments approach to season ticket renewals. The thought process here was to get fans committed to purchasing season tickets with a low down payment and then hit them with the big payments when they were excited for the new season. The problem we encountered with this method is that in general, most fans are not good at budgeting and people could never make the “balloon” payment that was due before the season. The solution? Budget for them!

Years back I was buying a car and was astonished by the number of people in the dealership wanting to talk about their monthly payment … that was literally the first and most important thing on their mind. If your customers want a monthly payment well then, give them a monthly payment! We took this to heart and implemented a 12-month payment plan with auto-billing to a credit card and our clients enjoyed the easy, low payment option. Of course, for a full 12-month payment plan to be an option, you have to “Start Early”

Note: I would suggest you offer a handful of payment options to cater to your clients, but keep it as structured as possible. Too much flexibility will bog down your sales staff and 80% of their work will be done for 10% of your ‘needy’ clients. Leaving less time to make focus on the new sales!

The Warm Fuzzy

Season ticket holders want to feel special … and they should! They are a huge lifeline to your organization. To keep them feeling special focus on adding value to their renewals, giving them a sense of being in that ‘exclusive club’. This could be anything. Something as simple as an exclusive sweatshirt or as elaborate as the new push towards a “Membership Model” which outlines year round exclusive events and access for continuing to be a faithful client.

Season ticket holder gifts are great, discounts are not-so-great. I suggest you avoid the “discount for renewing early” option. Many of the customers who renew early will do so even without a discount and you end up giving away a percentage of your ticket revenue. Instead of a discount for paying early it may be beneficial to incentivize paying in full by a certain date, for cash flow reasons of course.

So, in a nutshell … the key to a successful renewal season is to have a highly functional plan so that you can quickly get to your 80%+ renewals and then focus your sales and marketing efforts on new sales!

If you’re lucky you utilize a software like iSportsTix that automates the renewal process quickly and easily.


Turn Your Groups Into Super Events!

Are your group outings SUPER?

Last weekend was the Super Bowl, the Superest of Supers. Yes, the NFL is popular in its own right but the Super Bowl is a worldwide event which mesmerizes people — most of whom don’t even like football! It is an event that takes over a city for days with concerts, fan fests and media frenzy — all prior to any kickoff! The event itself is so colossal that it creates ancillary events around the world (just don’t call it a Super Bowl Party).

I was in Phoenix this past Thursday and Friday for business prior to my annual ‘guys weekend’ in Vegas for the Super Bowl. Phoenix was buzzing with events and you know Vegas is always in a frenzy during Super Bowl weekend. Most of the “event” that is the Super Bowl has nothing to do with first downs, completion percentage or the final score for that matter.

We have the ability to take this over-the-top mindset and apply it to our own group ticket sales. It is this mindset that will turn your 35-50 person group into a 200 person group outing! To accomplish this we must think of what we can use outside of the game itself to add value to these group outings.

Selling your assets is a common sales tactic, and a good one, but I believe we can take it a step further.

Example 1: The National Anthem

Along with performing the anthem try to mix in another performance during a stoppage at the game allowing to feel like a larger part of the night. Then setup a process to provide a DVD or email a digital movie of the performance to everyone. They will have a lifelong memory of singing in front of thousands of people which they can then show to their friends who will want to participate in the next anthem group!

Authors note/plea: Don’t comp tickets for your anthem! I promise you can find choirs and bands that will want to stay and watch the game after having the chance to perform. I have worked with large choirs where some students (and parents) did not feel they should have to pay to participate with the singing. We said no problem we will just escort you out after the anthem is over because the ticket is to stay and watch our game. An overwhelming majority of the choir and parents chose to purchase tickets and stay for the entire event.

Example 2: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

Scout troops are a very common group to target for an outing. Be sure to think outside of the game on what can be done to make it a lasting and memorable event. Create a scout patch for the outing … or take it a step further and look at having a tier of patches with a higher ranking patch awarded for the scout that sells the most tickets and raises more money for their pack. Include a camp-out so that the scout can sleep over after the game or award a concourse or exit table to a pack so that they can sell cookies to fans or showcase a project they have accomplished over the past year.

These are just a few common examples of enhancing a typical asset and group. The key is for you to apply this mindset to each and every group you work with … so ask yourself:

  • What add-ons can you create to make it more than a just a group?
  • What can be done outside of the game itself to create a lasting memory?

Creating that SUPER buzz will allow your groups to become super events which grow and grow over the years.

Practice?!? Are We Talking About Practice?!?!

Professional athletes practice far more than they perform. Think about that. Now ask yourself how often, and how well, do you practice your sales processes? Many teams will have a once or twice a year sales training excursion. Some organizations even set time aside for a weekly sales training meeting. Sadly, I have seen teams that put no resources into continual sales training.

I think it is important that you make a commitment for continual sales training. A weekly meeting, ideally separate from your sales meeting to review numbers, where you set aside time each week for practice!

Now that you have the practice time set up, what do you do? Below I have highlighted a few practice drills that sales coaches can use to improve their game time performance.

Role Playing

Nothing like a live scrimmage to fine tune those fundamentals! For me, role playing was like running poles at baseball practice, a necessary evil. Even as a young sales rep, I had to admit it did help, no matter how awkward I sometimes felt amongst my peers.

Set the scenario and let one of your sales reps “call” another rep while everyone listens. Many times this is more of a challenge then actually cold calling a stranger. This sales training tactic allows everyone to analyze what was good, or bad about the call. They can learn from each other and challenge themselves at the same time.


Success Stories

Winning is contagious! Take the time to analyze a couple recent sales and what tactics worked to land that new client. I can’t even count how many times I have used success stories to help reiterate a sales training point. It is much like reviewing game tape of a touchdown and analyzing the good blocks, the proper reads and the execution. This will drive home the point that doing the proper sales processes will lead to points on the board!

Trackable Effort

As a coach it is your job to steer the ship. Just like a sports coach calls the plays the players run, you need to have a game plan on what is expected of your team. One of my old colleagues actually called this his “weekly game plan” that he would distribute to his team each Monday during their sales training meeting.

If you know renewals are around the corner, let your team know you need at least 40 calls to current clients this week to check in. Big group game coming up? Let them know the weekly goal is to get a minimum of six group links to customers to purchase group tickets to that game (easily made with iSportsTix of course).

Motivation and Attitude

Team morale is important! Don’t forget that we function better as a team rather than merely an office of individuals. Play a game, share a motivational quote, go for pancakes, award a weekly WWE belt. There are a ton of fun and meaningful things to keep us working together as a team and having some fun while we do it.

Don’t Let Sales Goals Make You Stupid!

100 New FSE’s, $1.5 million in revenue, 1,000 group tickets per game, 80% renewal rate — whatever your sales goals are, do you know what it takes to reach them? We put so much focus on what our sales goals are, that I think we are losing sight of the process it takes to attain the goals.

I don’t think I have ever heard a professional football coach say their goal is to score 35 points this week.

Coaches don’t say, “What did we do at practice? Well I wrote 35 points on the white board and said that is our goal, let’s go out and score some touchdowns this week!”

OK, thanks coach.

That is not how it usually goes, so why do we take this approach in the front office?

Don’t let sales goals pull your focus away from what it takes to reach those goals.

Coaches get results through research, breaking down Xs and Os and giving players a gameplan that will help them succeed.

In the front office, we should be doing the same. Rather than just writing sales goals on a white board and expecting our staff to attain those goals, we should be putting in the time and effort to practice the process of reaching our goals. We need to review and teach what it takes to sell 100 new FSE’s.

Do you work with your staff to make sure they have enough qualified leads? Are they getting to the red-zone but not scoring? Maybe a weekly sales meeting on closing and analyzing the objections from hot leads.

Don’t let sales goals pull your focus away from what it takes to reach those goals. Be sure practice the steps it takes to attain your goals, rather than letting your weekly sales meetings be reduced to just writing numbers on a board.

Most of all: Don’t Let Sales Goals Make You Stupid!