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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.

 

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.

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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.